Running away: the paths of the gods on the Amalfi coast

Amalfi Coast Trial

Amalfi Positano Wine Trail; image source: www.amalfipositanoultratrail.it

 


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Running away: the paths of the gods on the Amalfi coast” was written by Kate Carter, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 31st January 2018 16.40 UTC

Who wouldn’t want to walk in the steps of the gods? Or, at any rate, run and/or hike the Path of the Gods. This stunning route winds through and along the sheer cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. Around every corner is a view of the sparkling Mediterranean, or a bird’s eye glimpse of the coastal towns and villages, like so many dolls houses interspersed with the dark green of olive tree foliage.

The full path is about 13km (8 miles), and you can travel it in either direction, though the views are better if you go from east to west (starting in Bomerano, ending in Nocelle, just outside Positano). Moving in that direction means the best views are always in front of you, and also means the sun will be behind you in the morning – better for both taking photos and not boiling if you are there in the summer heat. This direction also gives you slightly more downhill, though the trail is technical at times, and there certainly plenty of unrunnable stretches – and why would you want to hurry anyway? Some parts of the path also require careful map reading – for which I thoroughly recommend this guide/leaflet with helpful photos from Giovanni Visetti. This detailed guide is also worth printing out, as it lists some picturesque views/pit stops for water en route.

For those who prefer a smoother surface, road running is possible. You just need to keep your wits about you, and get up very early. The roads along the coast soon become very congested with slow-moving coaches (followed inches behind by impatient Italian drivers) and there aren’t any pavements to speak of, so you are taking your life into your own hands. A much better option – if you don’t want to embark on a long trail run – is to find a quiet stretch of hill path and run hill repeats.

Races to enter

Of course, you could enter an organised race. The stunning Amalfi Coast Trail takes place on 26 March and is a stage race totalling 94km, with 5,300 metres of elevation gain. It’s a very small race, of just 40 runners, with an option for 20 trekkers too – this is split over five stages, so it is entirely doable with a reasonable level of fitness. It also functions as an active form of run-tourism itself, incorporating a visit to Pompeii, a section taking in Vesuvius and a start on the island of Capri.

Another beautiful option in the early summer is the Amalfi-Positano Ultra Trail, taking place on 26 May 2018. This is actually a series of races, from the 50k ‘full’ ultra, down through a 35km ‘Trail of the Sirens’ to a 17km ‘Trail of the gods’. The same organisers also run the wonderful-sounding Amalfi Positano Wine Trail, two races in the Furore vineyards, on 27 October.

Then there is the new Coast to Coast race, travelling from Sorrento direct to Positano. Last year’s race comprised an ultra – 54km – and a shorter, 28km race, as well as a 2km funrun open to all. The dates for 2018 haven’t yet been announced, but it’s likely to be in December.

Then, of course, there’s a marathon (isn’t there always?). The Naples marathon takes place later in the year – date, again, TBC – but the half marathon takes place on 4 Feb. And really, what better place in the world could there be for pre-race carb loading than the birthplace of the pizza?

An important note for all racers, however: in Italy (as in France) it is mandated by law that you must present a medical certificate, authorised or signed by a doctor, to prove you are fit enough to run. Many races provide a sample form that you can print out and bring to your GP (who may or may not charge a small fee).

How to get there

Driving in Italy is, well, less than relaxing. Getting our hire car back from Positano through a thunderstorm, around coastal winding roads, during rush hour, to Naples was an experience I never, ever wish to relive. But providing you don’t mind public transport and can live without your own car, it’s entirely possible to get from Naples to Positano by bus – there are two direct ones each morning, or you could get the hourly train to Sorrento then a bus onwards from there. Or you could even explore the ferry timetable, to do part of the journey by sea. A more pricey option is to hire a taxi, though you could save some money by sharing a shuttle.

View from the Viale Pasitea.
View from the Viale Pasitea.

Where to stay

Hotels and restaurants in the area can be expensive, particularly in high season. Positano restaurants, in particular, seem to be twice the price of their neighbours in the stunning towns of Ravello or in Amalfi itself. The best option, particularly for a group or a family, is often to hire a villa. The Luxury Travel Book have numerous properties along the whole Amalfi coast (and the rest of Italy) ranging from €700 (£613) for a week to the sky-is-the-limit. Some of the villas – such as the stunning Viale Pasitea, with a beautiful terrace over the sea – will comfortably sleep 12 people. After an active day working up a sweat on those trails, it is the perfect retreat, with a large fully equipped kitchen also giving you the option to whip up your own meals. And, of course, that terrace on which to sip your well-earned Aperol spritz.

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