The Azores are a series of islands in the middle of the Atlantic, sitting midway between the continents of Europe and North America with Portugal 1360 km to the east, the nearest country and landmass. Although sailors had passed the islands for years, they weren't settled by the Portuguese until the 15th century. There are nine major Azorean islands and an islet cluster, in three main groups in the archipalego stretching to over 600 km from east to west. These are Flores and Corvo to the west, Carciiosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Falal in the centre and Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas reef to the east. All the islands have volcanic origins although most have had no recorded activity since the islands were settled. Although it may not appear it at first sight, if measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean to their peaks the Azores actually has some of the tallest mountains on the planet with Mount Pico on the island of Pico standing as the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft).
The climate of the Azores is very mild for such a northerly location, being influenced by its distance from the continents and by the passing Gulf Stream. Due to the marine influence, temperatures remain mild year-round. Daytime temperatures normally fluctuate between 16 °C (61 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) depending on season. Temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) or below 3 °C (37 °F) are unknown in the major population centres and we would expect the temperature to be around 20 °C in September for Run Azores. One caveat with the weather is the potential for rain and cloud which are quite frequent visitors to the islands.
A number of major European and North American cities now have direct flights into the Azores with flight times ranging from three to five hours. Tourism is one of the key industries for the islands with tourists flocking to the Azores to experience the outdoor life, hiking and trekking in the hills, surfing and sailing around the coast or fishing and whale watching further off shore.
Although running is still in its infancy, a few of the islands have well established trail races aimed at the local population but Run Azores will be the first major international running event on Sao Miguel.