With our MIUT marathon on Saturday, we flew from Edinburgh to Funchal, via Gatwick on Thursday. This gave us time to hop in our hire car at the airport and drive to race HQ at Machico to collect our numbers on Thursday evening, leaving all of Friday to find our feet and get ready for race day.
We were staying in a little Airbnb in Madeira’s largest city and capital Funchal, on the southern coast of the island. A 10 minute drive north, climbing up 20% gradient, hairpin bend roads, is the little village of Monte. This was where we were starting the marathon so we thought it would be a good idea to go there and explore.
We parked up and found some incredible gardens with beautiful native flowers and greenery. Wandering through them, almost by ourselves, we stumbled upon the crowds at the opposite end.
The crowds were watching one of the funniest modes of transport you could take down a hill I think we’ve ever seen! They are described as the carrieros of Monte, but are like big toboggans, with space for two, pushed down the two kilometre long waxed road surface by smartly dressed men in straw hats and boots. It’s something you have to see! Just to believe me.
After the hilarity passed we walked on, past the entrance to the cable car and a few cafes, towards some marked trails.
There were a few options, both detailed with distance and elevation up and down, to choose from and we mixed it up a little. We did a few kilometres of one to capture the views down to Funchal and all of the other to the furthest edge of Monte. We ran a little, walked a little, got used to the terrain and the temperature.
The next day was race day. We ate. Got ready and rested. We would be back in Monte at the start line soon enough.