Since 2005 the Ultra Marin Raid Golfe du Morbihan Association has organised an annual Trail Running event in the month of June. This sport orientated experience involves a number of races along trails comprising of approximately 80% paths and 20% roads marked out by Morbihan Council around the Gulf of Morbihan area. The Ultra Marin winds its way through 16 municipalities including the urban areas of Vannes and Auray as well as Séné, Theix-Noyalo, Le Hézo, Saint-Armel,Sarzeau, Saint Gildas,Arzon, Locmariaquer, Crach, Pluneret, Le Bono, Baden, Larmor-Baden and Arradon.
This unusual, visually appealing and varied running course in the heart of the Gulf of Morbihan and Brittany has been marked out and made safe for competitors day and night during the event. Participants can subsequently enjoy a major sporting challenge in a marvellously magical setting.
Every year competitors sprint their way along coastal trails from one cove to the next, skirting lovely little beaches and rocky outcrops and soaking up the fabulous scenery of the Gulf of Morbihan. Heather and gorse-lined paths take them through pine forests to the old tide-powered windmills of Noyalo andPen Castel on the Peninsula of Rhuys. Participants cross stone bridges and the old suspension bridge at Le Bono with wonderful views of the river and continue on through the many little ports that dot the route including Saint-Goustan, Port-Navalo, Port du Logeo, Port-Blanc, Port-Anna and Vannes.
Menhirs pop into view along the way as well as the megalithic burial mounds atKernours just outside the town of Le Bono.
Runners will also pass timbered houses along their journey such as those in the port of Saint-Goustan with its cobbled streets lined with small restaurants, as well as fishermen’s cottages hugging coastal paths and old Breton stone houses fringing village streets. Participants might also be surprised by the diversity of bird species as they cross the marshlands of Séné, Hézo and Saint-Armel– a wonderful sight for those of a dreamy disposition.
Despite the rugged nature of the coastline, especially at Arzon and at Larmor-Baden, this 177 kilometre course incorporates a total rise and fall in ground level of 1054 metres and does not present any major technical challenges.
However this is a long distance race and as such requires participants to prepare themselves physically to cope with a variety of surfaces from soft sand to hard rock, dirt trails and bitumen. Trails are often littered with tree roots and other stumbling hazards so participants are required to be vigilant and wear a head torch when running at night.