Tòfol Castanyer

Challenges at the summit

“Sitting down watching life go by isn’t for me”. And how. Last summer, in fact, Tòfol Castanyer (Sóller, 1972) spent 30 hours going up 54 peaks at an altitude of 1000 metres in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. The last challenge of the Ultra Trail World Championship in 2010.

“I get up at 6.40 am every day in order to train at 7.30. Then I prepare breakfast for my children. I go to work until 2 pm, and then I train again. I don’t want to stay still. I will stop one day, but I’m still pretty good in competitions. I won in the Azores this year, and came third in Gran Canaria. My life is like the Ultras I compete in: there are low points, good times and times for learning”, says Tòfol Castanyer, a native of Sóller, “the perfect place for training and thinking with absolute tranquillity”.

When he was five, Tòfol started going on hikes in the Serra de Tramuntana with his uncle and aunt. He sees them as his first coaches, and the people who inculcated a love of the mountains in him. “All children should go walking in these mountains, discovering and feeling them, and not just learn theory via a book”. This is what he did with his son Toni, in the week when he turned ten. “I said to him, Toni, we have to go up Puig Major and Puig des Migdia. The weather was really, really bad that day – it was foggy and windy, and he couldn’t enjoy the views. But I’m sure he will remember that experience his whole life”.

At first Tòfol – inspired by a cousin of his – tried out cycling, “but I could hardly reach the pedals, so I was advised to try athletics”. The change fascinated him and ever since then, he has thought of nothing but training in the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana, “asphalt bores me, it’s very monotonous”, he says.

The second place that he achieved in the 2014 Ultra Trail Mont Blanc changed Tòfol’s life. Even more than when he was proclaimed World Champion in Malaysia in 2010. “Salomon (an international running shoes brand) started sponsoring me, I felt valued and important. It’s the best equipment there is, used by the best runner in the world, Kilian Jornet. They offered to make me professional, but I turned it down. My livelihood isn’t races, but my shops”.

On the day Tòfol was born, his father opened Can Toni Reia, the family business, in Sóller. “I spent my childhood in the shop. When I took over, aged 18, it was out of obligation – I felt a huge responsibility and I approached it like a long-distance race. We have three shops now, and I have the best partner: my brother”.

As well as his business and the races, Tòfol takes part in charity projects, overcoming challenges that would be impossible for any other mortal. Like Passes per en Pau, when he ran through the Serra de Tramuntana twice - 190 kilometres in around 30 hours. The aim was to raise 15,000 Euros to buy a chair for Pau, a boy from Sóller with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, a disease two of his cousins died from when he was small. “In the end we managed to raise 48,000 Euros. It was incredible what all of the people from Sóller lived through those days. It was the most powerful thing I have experienced, or will experience in my life”. The only tattoo Tòfol has on his skin commemorates that challenge.

Last summer, Salomon suggested to Tòfol that he undertake a personal project that he was enthusiastic about. “So I decided to go up to 54 peaks at an altitude of over 1000 metres in the Serra de Tramuntana. I covered 110 kilometres in less than 30 hours. The Serra is so beautiful, so big, I went up to summits I had never been to before”... “Many people ask me [...]


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