Should You Run Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT)?

Madeira island ultra trail is one of the best trail races in the world and definitely one of my favorite ones. If you were wondering if a long trip to this remote island is worth it, here is an overview of what you can expect.

MIUT has all the elements for a trail race to remember: an exotic island, steep mountain peeks, enchanted forests and stunning views.

It is truly a trip to remember!


Madeira is an island located in the Atlantic Ocean and even though it belongs to Portugal, it is actually closer to Morocco. It has mild year-round temperatures and the average annual temperature at the capital city Funchal is around 20 degrees.

Madeira island is actually the emergent top of a massive shield volcano that rises about 6 km from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 741 m2 and a coastline of around 150 km.

A mountain ridge extends along the center of the island and reaches 1862 meters at its highest point, Pico Ruivo.

The island is very mountainous which sets the perfect stage for an amazing trail race. It’s also rich in biodiversity of endemic Fauna and Flora species and the Madeira Island Laurel Forest “Laurissilva” is classified as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Since 2004 there was already a group of members of the Clube de Montanha do Funchal who every year had the habit of attempting to cross the island in less than 24 hours.

The first MIUT edition was in 2008, and 141 runners attempted to cross the island from Ponta do Pargo to the city of Machico. Routes changed in the first few years until 2013. when it was decided on the Porto Moniz-Machico route. The popularity of the race grew rapidly each and every year with almost 2500 runners in 2018.

MIUT history
2014, at the start of the Island crossing; Photo credit: www.MIUTMadeira.com


The nature you will see during the race is absolutely stunning. Steep climbs to mountain tops, ocean views, beautiful pathways and levadas, enchanting peeks, beautiful single trails and deep exotic forests…It’s got it all!

Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) offers 4 trail races of various lengths. The finish line for all of them is in the town of Machico.

MIUT: 115 km, 7200m+

This is the main race and it takes you literally across the entire island. If you’re in good enough shape to do it, then this is definitely the one to choose as it showcases the most beautiful parts of the island. Keep in mind that the terrain is very challenging and that the time limit of 32 hours is not to be taken lightly.

This is the race which Ivan did and it took him almost 27 hours. This was a bit slow for him, but he had some issues with his stomach and lost 2-3 hours fighting to recover. Except for those issues, he absolutely loved the race and is definitely planning to go again.  

Enjoy the video from his race and you can read more about his experience at the following link: MIUT 2017 – Ascent, ascent and more ascent

MIUT starts at midnight so unless you’re a really fast runner you will get caught by the 2nd night as well. Almost all ascents and descents are very steep and quite technical and using poles is highly recommended.

MIUT course profile
MIUT course profile
MIUT route
MIUT route

ULTRA: 85 km, 4700m+

Ultra starts in Sao Vicente and then connects with the route of MIUT at Encumeada and follows the same path all the way to Machico. This route is an excellent choice if you’re not ready for the full MIUT route because you still get to see some of the best parts of the island.

This is the race I chose and I must admit that it was scary for me to make that decision. My longest race until then was 8 hours long and I saw by results from previous years that it will take me at least twice as that to finish it.

But, what pushed me to go for it was that the shorter race (42km) did not pass the most attractive part of the course which is between the Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro. And I really, really wanted to pass there during the race. I trained very hard during the winter to make sure that I can do the race.

And I watched this video at least 100 times to make sure I’m motivated and focused. The must-see part is at 2:38 min.

And yes, I did finish successfully in 18h 30 minutes and had one of the best experiences of my life.

MARATHON: 42 km, 1750m+

Even though the marathon route doesn’t go to the stunning Pico Ruivo and… peaks it has another advantage.  In the final phases of the race, you can enjoy in stunning views of the ocean and while running along levadas with the backdrop of the Machico valley. This is something that both Ivan and I missed out on during the longer races because we were at those locations during the night and couldn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the scenery.

MINI: 16 km, 375m+

Mini includes just this beautiful last part of the race even though you probably won’t be making a trip to Madeira just because of this short course. Still, it’s very good that it’s offered because it can be a great option for your friends or spouses who are joining you on the trip and who aren’t able to do the longer distances.


MIUT takes place at the end of April and the registration usually opens at the end of September the year before. Races are becoming increasingly popular so put it in your calendar to make sure you register on time.

Next year registration details are unknown yet, but you can check for more details on their official website: https://www.miutmadeira.com/en/


The MIUT, Ultra and Marathon races give points for UTMB, and MIUT is even a qualifying race for Western States if you can finish it under 29 hours.


I definitely recommend planning a few additional days in Madeira to discover the island. Rent a car and take a tour of the island. The best would be to split it in 2-3 days. Madeira has beautiful levada walks and hikes so that is always a great option to spend the day. One of our highlights from the trip was the Toboggan Run in Funchal! It’s something totally unique which we’ve never seen before and it was totally fun to do it. I highly recommend it!