Long distance runner Svenja and I had been talking about going on a running adventure together for a while, so as she is leaving for Canada soon and I am heading to NZ, we decided it was time to make it happen. It didn’t take us very long to agree on a destination as we both really wanted to run the GR221 on Majorca!
Once we arrived at the airport in La Palma, we got changed into our running gear and packed our running backpacks (I would carry most of the gear in a 25l backpack and she would run with a 12l hydration vest). It was Dirtbag Runner Style time!!!
This meant I had to chuck out half the stuff Svenja wanted to take with her (as it was her first point-to-point running adventure, she was a bit of a princess ;-). She wasn’t impressed once she realised it meant only one pair of socks and one shirt…
We then made our way to the main bus station where we left our clean, normal clothes, and Svenja’s entire running wardrobe in a locker. The bus to Pollença, where the GR221 starts or finishes, depending on which way you want to run it, was just over an hour (mention bus company name and maybe the rough price as people will google the bus and then your blog might come up instead). Pollença is a really cute, little village in the north of the island. We stayed in a refuge for the night sharing a room with a French couple. Bloody French – they are everywhere ;).
The dinner was really nice and there were no problems accommodating our special dietary need (I am vegan and Svenja is vegetarian). We then spent the rest of the evening chatting by the fireplace and looking at the route once again – it was a great way to start the adventure!
Day 1 – Pollença to Refugio Tossals Verds; 34k 1600m elevation
We had breakfast at the refuge and then quickly swung by the local bakery to get a baguette for the road. It was sunny but unusually cold for Majorca. This wasn’t a problem for Svenja as she spent the previous month running in her hometown in Germany but a bit difficult for me as I had just come back from Chile… As soon as we got going, the body warmed up and the temperature wasn’t really a problem anymore.
We were both fresh and so excited to run together again that the miles flew by. We were both amazed and in awe by the beauty of the landscape! We stopped for lunch at the top of one of the numerous peaks on the route. What was supposed to be a quick break turned into a two hour chat about life. We were both quite cold, but neither of us wanted to get going again as it was so nice and beautiful. We finally managed to get a move on and started to make our way to the Refugio Tossals Verds.
Since it was January, we were both a bit worried that the refuge might be closed or wouldn’t offer any food – as we of course didn’t have a back-up plan. The descent to the refuge was stunning, the light at that time of the day was colouring everything in gold. As we descended, we could see the refuge from the distance and noticed smoke coming out of the chimney; phew, at least we will have a roof over our head tonight. The refuge was located in the middle of the mountains and was simply awesome, with yet another fireplace and absolute tranquillity. The guy quickly reassured us that he had food for us but that it would be very basic. Fine with us! When dinner came it was far from being basic! He made us some tasty vegan spinach Cannelloni, it was just so yummy! We both stuffed our faces untill we couldn’t eat anymore and then curled up in bed for a nights rest.
Day 2 – Refugio Tossals Verds to Deia 33k 1300m elevation
After a nice breakfast, we headed out and started with a downhill section. I find it always tricky to start the day with a downhill as the cold muscles never really appreciate that. However, we soon started climbing up some mountain and were rewarded by pretty amazing views.
The trail then took us down and around a lake. The path around the lake was one of those cheeky flat-ish trails; we both tried to make conversation but none of us really wanted to talk as we were both struggling a bit. The first day felt really easy but today our bodies felt pretty tired for some reason…
We finally arrived in Soller where we bought some much needed food. Yup, another baguette. We sat down in the sun and enjoyed a nice avocado and tomato sandwich. Well-refuelled we made our way to Deia. Svenja managed to make a new friend on the way, a very friendly black sheep… I was like “can we get moving, please…” Deia is a really cute village and to our surprise, the lady from the first refuge welcomed us again, this time at the Refugi de Can Boi. Again, she cooked us some amazing food and we sat at the fireplace. Winning!!!
Day 3 – Deia to Banyalbufar 35k 1900m elevation
On the morning of the 3rd day, we quickly noticed that it was quite windy. However, we were oblivious to what was waiting for us higher up… As we climbed up, the wind was
getting stronger and stronger. Once we got to the top, the wind was so strong it would blow us off the trail. Svenja and I are quite lightweight… It made it difficult for us to maintain a decent pace as the trail was also very rocky.
I was getting a bit uncomfortable with the condition as it was not very safe…In my head, I could already see myself having to call mountain rescue when suddenly I heard Svenja shouting from behind me. As I turned around, I saw her on the floor and I almost had a heart attack but she was laughing so I knew she was fine. She had tripped over a rock, giving a warm hug to a bush… Thank god the bush was there or it would have been quite bad on this rocky terrain. How she managed to land on the ONLY bush in sight is a mystery to me!
The section of the GR221 from Deia to Valdemossa was rather tricky to navigate as there were almost no markers. Luckily enough, I had marked the way on a map on my phone. I always use the app Maps.me to navigate on the trails as it’s free, very accurate, and you
you do not need phone signal to use it. I would definitely recommend this app to anyone.
We had a quick lunch in Valdemossa and then ran to Banyalbufar. The initial plan was to sleep in Esporles but we decided to push on so we would not need to have a crazy long day on our last day. However, this initially appeared to have been a very big mistake. When we arrived in the town, everything was closed. I could already see us running through the night… But after 2 hours going around town to find a solution, we met a woman in a restaurant who knew someone who could rent us a flat for the night. We were quite relieved, especially because Svenja was experiencing some lower back pain and was not very keen on carrying on running. The flat was so nice and spacious; we couldn’t believe how lucky we were (well, apart from the shower being cold!).
Day 4 – Banyalbufar to Peguera 33k 1000m elevation
The last day of this beautiful adventure should have taken us to Port D’Antratx along the
coast but the GR221 markers took us to Peguera for some reason. The route might have been changed or we accidentally followed one of the numerous alternatives. Unfortunately, when we realised it, it was too late to turn around, but the trails were still ridiculously beautiful so it didn’t bother us too much. Especially, as we made a cheeky stop for some ice cream and coke ;-).
The last stretch to Peguera was pretty flat which was quite pleasant after all the climbing we had to done over the past few days. We ended the run dipping our battered feet in the cold sea; it felt so good!!! We then took a bus back to La Palma and our flights were the next morning.
Running the GR221 was a great adventure for both of us and we would recommend the route to anyone as long as you come prepared and are up for some technical, rocky trails with breath-taking sceneries. The food and the mountain huts are fairly cheap so the trip won’t break the bank. If you do go in winter make sure you prepare your trip better than we did though, as it could have been really tricky for us if one day we could not find a place to stay, it would have forced us to walk/run through the night which is never ideal… The weather was great as well at this time of the year. It was sunny and warm (around 15 degrees) which makes it a great place to go if you want to escape the British winter.