With impressive highs and lows, unique and spectacular natural scenery, a climate allowing for year-round open-air sports, the sumptuous natural scenery of Reunion is regularly the setting for major sporting events. You can sit and watch these events from a safe distance, admiring the competitors, or push your body to the limit and walk away saying “I did it !"
Every year since 1989, more than 6,400 trail running amateurs of all levels come together to cross Reunion, from Saint-Pierre to Saint-Denis, across the volcano and the cirques. You may think that it’s crazy, and you’d be right! This internationally renowned ultramarathon is officially named the Grand Raid de La Réunion, but has earned the telling nickname of “The Madmen’s Diagonal”, and people come from all over the world to take part. This mountainous celebration of effort, performance and team spirit lasts three days and two nights. Some come to win, others come to be tested, and others take part to learn more about themselves. Whether alone, as a couple, or with friends, no one comes out of the Diagonal unscathed, and the experience is a major life event. Just ask those who have completed it !
The best trail runners finish up in less than 20 hours, which is mind-blowing when you consider the changes in height, the variety of paths and the extreme temperatures, from the cold and the humidity of the higher regions, and the baking heat of the coastline. The faces of those who cross the finish line are marked with the inner strength needed to go the distance. A half-trail can be run to test yourself, but the true feeling of victory comes when you can proudly say “I did it!”
Another moment of madness can be found during the Mégavalanche. At the start of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer (during the European winter), this sporting event brings the greatest mountain bikers together to race from Maïdo mountain to the sea. Certain sections of the race remind everyone that mountain biking is an extreme sport! The Mégavalanche is open to everyone, with pre-selection enabling participants to be put into groups of varying levels.
International paragliding competitions are regularly held on the site of Saint-Leu. Certain phases of the Paragliding World Cup even take place here, including the final, where the greatest paragliders in the world play for the title. For several days, the sky is filled with colourful sails, with the party in full swing and music and food on the slopes of Piton Saint-Leu. As you can see, gliding is taken seriously in Réunion! There are some 300 days of flying per year, 800 regular gliders, 20 sites aimed all levels and different conditions ranging from lagoons to mountains, professional schools and associations for learning to perfect the sport. Réunion has everything it needs to train future champions and provide amateurs with a unique experience.
Every now and then, Réunion is also chosen by organisers to host various sporting events, widely covered by the French and international media. And all year long, local events give lovers of all outdoor sports a chance to battle it out. Come and give it a go !