Reunion Island's toughest race is currently underway. The Grand Raid de la Réunion, also called La Diagonale des Fous (The Madmen's Diagonal) is a mountain ultramarathon race which takes place annually in October. The 162 km route with 9643m of elevation gain is reputed to be one of the world's most gruelling races.
Organizing The Grand Raid means solving complex logistical problems. For each competitor, either a champion or a glorious anonymous, volunteers are there to help, comfort, feed and encourage them all.
Camping beds, tents, tables, medical equipment, food and drinks, computers, generators and more are transported by helicopter to many of the points along the route. At the Piton des Neiges (the highest peak on the island) a radio relay transmitter is set up to allow the various check points to communicate for the duration of the race. An impressive fleet of vehicles is needed throughout the week of the race; lorries, vans, 4 wheel drives and even 12 buses to transport competitors to the start!
The exculsive race is limited to 940 participants from France, about 100 from other countries and to 1560 residents in Réunion Island.
Journalists from South Africa are currently on the island to capture stories about the race as they unfold.