TRANSVULCANIA 2019 – IMAGE GALLERY

The 2019 Transvulcania was once again an epic race. The stunning island of La Palma never disappoints.

Epic sunrise, cloud inversions and clear skies with intense heat.

The race was incredible with Ragna Debats and Thibaut Garrivier taking victory. You can read a summary HERE.

Below is a portfolio of images that gives a glimpse of the race.

Image galleries are HERE

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TRANSVULCANIA 2019 – Debats and Garrivier win! – Race Summary

Petter Engdahl came of age today as he pushed a relentless pace right from the gun at the 2019 Transvulcania. The only runner brave enough to follow was Ruy Ueda and the duo pushed together over much of the volcano sections all the way to El Pilar.

Behind, runners lined up to chase including Thibaut Garrivier, Marco De Gasperi, Dmitry Mityaev, Jon Albon and a who’s who of top-talent.

Engdahl looked calm and relaxed and considering this is only his second year in skyrunning and his longest race so far, he was brave to take on the front. It was expected that Ueda and De Gasperi would push and test him. However, no! Both dropped before 30km leaving the young gun out front being chased by Garrivier and Mityaev.

At Rouques de los Muchachos, the 18km drop to Tazacorte beach is a formidable descent not only for the legs and lungs but also the mind. Engdahl found the pressure to intense and relinquished his lead, firstly to Garrivier and then Mityaev.

From the beach, as the runners ran through a slot canyon, the writing was on the wall. Garrivier had extended a lead of 5-minutes to the Russian and equally, Mityaev had extended a lead of 5-minutes over Engdahl. It remained that way to the line with Garrivier taking a great win in 7:11:04 ahead of Mityaev 7:14:23 and Engdahl 7:21:28. The UK’s Jon Albon moved up from outside the top-10 to place 4th and Diego Pazos was 5th.

Anne-Lise Rousset dictated the pace in the women’s race and over the opening 18km she looked strong. Behind, pre-race favourite, Ragna Debats fresh from victory at Marathon des Sables pushed but looked to be playing a waiting game. Behind, Megan Kimmel followed along with Kristin Berglund and Ekaterina Mityaeva.

The heat and the pace took its toll and as Rousset slowed, Debats turned up the gears and applied the pressure, no doubt the sandy terrain and heat feeling ‘normal’ after her Moroccan adventure.

The speed increased and Debats took an incredible victory in 8:09:25 dominating the race. Rousset held on for 2nd, no doubt the course and conditions hurting everyone and Kimmel rounded out the top-3, their times 8:25:11 and 8:35:03. Russian Mityaeva placed 4th and Berglund 5th.

Men:

1. Thibaut Garrivier (FRA) Hoka One One – 7:11:04

2. Dmitry Mityaev (RUS) Adidas Terrex – 7:14:23

3. Petter Engdahl (SWE) Salomon Running – 7:21:28

4. Jonathan Albon (GBR) Gore / VJ Shoes – 7:36:34

5. Diego Pazos (SWI) Compressport – 7:41:48

Women:

1. Ragna Debats (NED) Merrell – 8:09:25

2. Anne-Lise Rousset (FRA) Oxsitis-Odlo – 8:25:11

3. Megan Kimmel (USA) Salomon Running – 8:35:03

4. Ekaterina Mityaeva (RUS) Adidas Terrex – 8:53:02

5. Kristin Berglund (AUS) Salomon Running – 8:58:10

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Transgrancanaria 2019 Race Preview

Transgrancanaria is upon us once again. Arguably, it is the first big European race to kick-off a new racing season. Due to it’s timing, it’s a popular race for many high-ranking elites, European and from over the pond, it allows them to race hard and recover in time for the next big targets that will come in May, June, July or beyond.

Starting in the north of the island, the race travels all the way south covering many kilometres with vertical in abundance. Starting at night, the race involves many hours of darkness before the arrival of dawn. It’s a tough race, ask anyone who has done it and they will tell you, ‘It is a brute!’

The 2019 line-up as in previous years is spectacular.

The 2018 champion, Pau Capell, returns looking for another victory. Pau had a relentless 2018 campaign and will for sure come to the race ready to give it all.

Cristofer Clemente placed 3rd in 2018 and is a master of pacing. Expect him to be out of the top-10 early on and then move up the ranks with the arrival of dawn.

Julien Chorier just raced in Hong Kong at the two stage 9 Dragons. He won the first day and placed 2nd on day-2, he lost time due to the heat and humidity and finished 2nd overall behind Kazufumi Ose. He will be in great shape for Transgrancanaria.

The UK’s Damian Hall has been on a roll these past year’s. He seems to really be honing his craft and 5th at the 2018 UTMB proves it. He recently set a FKT with Beth Pascall on the Cape Wrath trail – expect Damian to do really well!

Hayden Hawks won Lavaredo in 2018 and this race will be a step-up for him. His natural running ability and speed will be beaten down by this relentless course.

Min Qi won Hong Kong 100km and as anyone knows, Hong Kong trails are super tough – I see Min being a force to be reckoned with.

Vaidas Zlabys placed 2nd at Transgrancanaria in 2017 and although he has raced many races since, he hasn’t quite fulfilled the expectation of that 2017 performance… Will we see something special in 2019?

***Dmitry Mityaev from Russia has grown over the last 2-3 year’s with a string of excellent performances, most notably on the skyrunning circuit. He won High Trail Vanoise in 2018 and for sure, that is a great indicator that he has the potential for a podium performance here in Gran Canaria. ***pulled out with injury

Pablo Villa is a force to be reckoned with, he has raced over the shorter distances in previous editions. This year he moves up to the full distance.

What follows is a list of runners who have excelled on this course or others, placing in the top-10 or just outside. They will all be ones to watch and for sure, any of them could pull of a big surprise:

Anthony Gay

Yeray Duran

Timothy Olson

Johan Lantz – notable story! Four years ago he broke his leg at Transgrancanaria while in 3rd place. This is his comeback…!

Andris Ronimoiss

Sebastien Sanchez

*****

The women’s line-up is a compelling one and certainly will provide a stunning race.

***Azara Garcia won Transgrancanaria in 2017 and she is back. She is always focused and fights hard – she will be difficult to beat. ***pulled out with injury

Magdalena Laczak, the 2018 champion, also returns for battle. If she, Azara and Caroline are in good form, we could witness an epic race!

Just 18-months ago, had I seen *** Caroline Chaverot’s name on a start list, I would have said, she is the one to beat. She really was unstoppable. However, the recent year and more has not been kind with a string of health problems. It’s great to see her on the start list here and I hope we see the Caroline of 2017! ***pulled out with a broken leg

Denise Zimmerman is a fierce competitor. She has been on the podium at UTMB so her long game is not in question.

Marianne Hogan may well be a surprise package? Her 2017 UTMB performance is a great indicator that she will be able to handle Gran Canaria’s tough trails.

Miao Yao like Min Qi won Hong Kong 100 in 2018 and that elevates her to a hot favourite on this course.

Lisa Borzani, Ester Alves and Ildiko Wermescher heads-up the remaining competition amongst others.

Action starts on Friday evening, March 22nd and the first runners can be expected in Maspalomas Saturday afternoon, March 23rd.

Lanzarote Training Camp 2019 – Day 1

Day 1 on the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp and the usual sunny and warm Canaria weather deserted us with some strong winds and the occasional rain shower. It’s all about perspective though and as one runner said, “It’s considerably better than being at home or at work!”

The morning session was a 22km out and back run to the coastal town of Famara. Groups were split into 4 ability based groups:

Sondre Amdahl leading the ‘speedy runners.

Elisabet Barnes leading a mixed group of runners.

Inge Nijkamp leading group 3.

Ian Corless leading a walk / run group.

The camp is all about finding a natural balance that provides the participants with a comfortable and solid group that provides the perfect stimulus from which to progress.

A break for lunch and then the afternoon kicked off with a stunning talk by Running Reborn Coach, Shane Benzie. He discussed all the aspects, through practical demonstration, that make us better runners.

Groups were then split into 2. 

Group 1 went to the run track with Shane for a practical workshop. Shane individually filmed runner and gave guidance on improving technique.

Group 2 had an easy 8km run.

As always, the evening RnR process is all about getting together for a social drink and evening meal.

It was a great start to the 2019 camp!

Cajamar Tenerife Bluetrail 2018 Race Preview

The island of Tenerife this coming weekend will host the Tenerife Bluetrail, three races – Trail, Marathon and Ultra.

The MARATHONdeparts from Pista de Mamio and covers a total distance of 43 km’s and concludes in Puerto de la Cruz.

The TRAIL race is 66km race which starts at 1387m from Vilaflor and using a mixture of path, track and asphalt will reach an altitude of 2520m. It’s a tough race with 14-hours allocated for completion. Total +/-elevation is 7886m.

The main event of the weekend is the ULTRA. A brutally tough and challenging race of 101.5km’s. It’s an amazing concept race that is truly logical as it offers a traverse of the island, from sea, to summit and returning back to the sea. The highest point of the race is the iconic Mt Teide at 3550m. Made up mostly of paths and tracks, the route also includes a small section of asphalt, just 13%. An allocated 24-hours is provided to complete the event. Departing from Playa Fanabe at 2330 on June 8th, the route will pass through La Quinta, Ifonche, Vilaflor de Chasna, Degollada de Guajara, Roques de Garcia, Pico Viejo, La Rambleta, Montana Blanca, Lomo Hurtado, Recibo Quemado, Ladera de Tigaiga, Chanajiga, Tigaiga, El Asomadero, El Mirador de la Corona, Mirador San Pedro and Rambla de Castro before finishing in Puerto de la Cruz.

Race Website HERE 

A quality line-up of elite runners will participate over the three races:

Andrea Huser needs no introduction, she is consulate professional who has boundless energy to race week in and week out. She is a UTWT champion and has adorned the podium of UTMB and Transgrancanaria. Recently she raced the Marathon des Sables but has been plagued with a recurring injury.

Bernadette Benson is a Canadian who lives in Australia. A long-distance specialist she is an expert at 24-hour racing. Notably in 2010, she was the outright winner of the Brisbane 24-hour championships.

Jose David Lutzardo Barraso is from Tenerife, a real motivation when racing the Bluetrail. Notably, he has won the Haria Extreme race in Lanzarote, the Reventon Trail in La Palma and most recently he was 5th at the 2018 Transgrancanaria. 

Marco Zanchi is a long-distance mountain running specialist from Italy. UTMB, Tor des Geants and Diagonale des Fous rank amongst his greatest results where he placed 11th, 6th and 7th respectively.

Cristofer Clemente recently adorned the podium of the IAU World Trail championships placing 2nd behind Luis Alberto Hernando. Earlier this year he was 2nd in Transgrancanaria and he has been a prolific racer and achiever in the Skyrunner World Series. His presence in Tenerife is a huge bonus for the race.

Pau Capell just this last weekend placed 4th in Madeira at the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira, a tough and challenging 55km mountain race. He is a two-time champion of Transgrancanaria, for sure, his racing ability will put all those who go against him to the test in Tenerife.

Azara Garcia also a winner of Transgrancanaria and prolific racer in the Skyrunner World Series brings her mountain and trail running expertise to the Bluetrail. She was a runner up at the Buff Epic Trail in 2016 and has represented her country at the IAU World Trail champs on multiple occasions.

Yeray Duran is a previous winner of the Tenerife Bluetrail and is a popular favourite amongst runners from Spain and the Canary Islands. He competes regularly over varying distances and highlights include top-10results at TDS, CCC and 3rd in the Transgrancanaria.

Marc Pinsach is an athlete very much in the mood of Kilian Jornet, also a good friend. He mixes ski mountaineering and running seamlessly, excelling in both.

Sange Sherpa is two-time participant of Bluetrail having won in 2016 and placing 3rd last year. Coming from Nepal and an experienced mountain runner, he is a prime candidate for victory in Tenerife.

Augustin Vicente Garcia Perez placed 3rd at Bluetrail in 2015 and returns in 2018 with high hopes for 2nd or the top of the podium.

Finally, Lorena, Juana and Mario Rodriguez Raramuri will travel to Tenerife to participate. Residing in the mountains of Mexico, these Tarahumara runners bring spice to an already quality line-up. The Raramuri brothers personify pure mountain spirit.

Runners will arrive from all over the world to the stunning island of Tenerife to participate in one of the challenging races that make up stunning weekend of running, be that the MARATHON, TRAIL or the ULTRA.

Action stars on June 7th 2018.

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Transvulcania VK by Binter – 2018 Race Summary and Images

The island of La Palma today hosted the Winter Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® (VK) one of many VK’s in the 2018 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit.

Just last weekend in Italy the Trentapassi Vertical, rising 1,000m above Italy’s Lake Iseo took place and many of the runners who participated followed up with the VK in La Palma.

To clarify, a VK is a uphill mountain race that climbs for 1,000m over a course that is less than 5 km in length. Certain courses on the circuit do obtain special dispensation – Transvulcania one case in point.

The route here in La Palma covers over 1200m of vertical gain over a distance of 7.6km and re-traces sections of the Ultramarathon course and concludes at the forest lookout tower at an altitude of 1600m and stunning views of the Aridane valley and the north east of the island.

From sea to sky, today in La Palma, the BBinter Transvulcania VK provided a wonderful showcase for the sport as runners departed from Tazacorte Puerto. However, the usual glorious skies of blue and intense sunshine were replaced with cloud, grey and at times, light rain.

The line-up for the VK was impressive with Stian Angermund, Pascal Egli, Aritz Egea and Ondrej Fejfar heading up a world-class field.

Pascal Egli dominated with a strong performance ahead of Stian Angermund-Vik and Rui Ueda. Their times 47:55, 48:03 and 48:08.

Christel Dewalle set blistering pace and set a new course record ahead of Laura Orgue and Zuzana Krchova. Their times 56:52, 57:19 and 1:01:13.

Attention now turns to the main event of the weekend, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon that starts in the early hours of the morning on Saturday at Fuencalienti lighthouse. You can read the race preview HERE.

Full set of race images available HERE

Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2018 Race Preview

Transvulcania is upon us! Since 2012, the race has been an ever-present in the Skyrunner World Series and now it is acclaimed the world over as a pinnacle event. Taking place on the Isla Bonita (the beautiful island) of La Palma, the race personifies the pure ethos of Skyrunning. It is a wonderfully logical race route that starts next to the sea in the south of the island and concludes on the west of the island in the town of Los Llanos. The route offers 74km’s of amazing trails, wonderful views and technical trail and some real vertical ascent (4350m) and descent (4057m) that tests the legs, lungs and mind of the most experienced runner.

Taking place on the GR131, Rute del Bastion, the route starts low and climbs and climbs into the National Park of the Caldera de Taburiente. Runners then traverse the rim to Roques de Los Muchachos before dropping over 2400m in one leg busting drop of 18km’s to the sea and Tazacorte Puerto before a final push upwards to the finish in Los Llanos.

A decade of Transvulcania and La Palma magic. In 2009, just 378 runners toed the line, in 2018, 2000 runners will embark on the majestic journey. One only has to look at past winners of the race to understand the importance of Transvulcania on the world running map – Luis Alberto Hernando Kilian Jornet, Miguel Heras, Dakota Jones, Emelie Forsberg, Anna Frost and the 2017 champions, Ida Nilsson and Tim Freriks.

As in previous year’s the race has a stellar line-up of world-class talent and notably includes the Italian Skyrunning master, Marco De Gasperi. For Marco, this race will be a departure for him as he will arguably race one of the longest races ever in his remarkable career. He is, one of the first ever official Skyrunner’s who has pioneered and paved a way for the rest. His inclusion in the 2018 Transvulcania is an exciting prospect.

Competition will come from all sides, in particular Xavier Thevenard who comes to the race with incredible results, however, he has raced at Transvulcania before and has always seemed to just miss the performances shown at the UTMB series of events which he has dominated. Will 2018 be his year?

Zaid Ait Malek is a pure Skyrunner. He placed 3rd last year and this year may well place 2nd or take the top slot. The race is there for the taking and Zaid has all the skills to make it happen.

Jason Schlarb raced in La Palma last year and had a solid result. He knows the race now and will be finely tuned to move up the ranks and potentially break into the top-5.

Dmitry Mityaev has risen in the Skyrunning ranks over the last few year’s with a string of excellent performances. He has got better and better and it is fair to say we can expect a solid performance in La Palma. He prefers the longer distances, so, Transvulcania may well be ideal for the Russian.

Michel Lanne rarely these days but when he does, he always excels. He has won CCC and TDS and last-year had a great run in Norway at Tromso SkyRace. For me, on his day, Michel is a potential winner for Transvulcania.

Franco Colle was missing in 2017 from the Skyrunning ranks but he is back. A past winner of the Rut 50km, Franco is an experienced Skyrunner who will make his presence felt in La Palma.

With a stellar line-up, other contenders to watch are as follows:

Morgan Elliott – 2016 and 2017 Skyrunner National Series champion.

Cody Reed – 2nd Bandera 100km and winner of Mt Bachelor 50km.

Cole Watson – 1st Canyons Endurance Run 50km.

Daniel Jung – 2nd Hong Kong 100 in 2017.

Fulvio Dapit – Consistent Skyrunner with great experience. 

Pau Bartolo – 1st at Buff Epic Trail in 2017 and 1st TDS 2015.

Alfredo Gil – 8th Dolomites SkyRace.

Pere Aurell – 4th at The Rut and 3rd at Royal Gran Paradiso.

Thibaud Garrivier – 6th at OCC and Marathon du Mont-Blanc 2017.

Ivan Camps – 5th at Ultra Pirineu.

Francesc Sole – 7th at UTMB and 6th at Ultra Pirineu.

Peter Kienzl – Long distance runner won won 360 Transgrancanaria.

Stephen Wassather – 1st Silver State 50 and 4th Bandera 100km

Jan Bartas – 4th Devil’s Ridge and 8th High Trail Vanoise.

Plus many more…

The ladies’ race has the 2016 and 2017 returning champion and course record holder, Ida Nilsson. In all honesty, if Ida shows any potential of her 2017 form, she will be unstoppable in 2018. She knows the course and has the speed and skills.

Ekaterina Mityaeva like her husband, Dmitry, has grown in experience and stature over the last few years and we can expect her to bring that experience to La Palma. The podium is a distinct possibility! 

Anna Mae Flynn has won Speedgoat 50km and placed 3rd at Lake Sonoma 50, two races that indicate a solid performance at Transvulcania. However, racing in Europe is always different than the US. I still think we will see something solid from this lady.

Cassie Scallon has won Bandera 100km and so we know the distance will not be an issue. In 2017 she had two notable wins at Gorge Waterfalls and Nine Trails.

Brittany Peterson has won Moab Red Hot 55km and placed 2nd at the 50km event at Run Rabbit Run. She is a slid runner with a good skill set that should transfer over to Transvulcania well.

Kelly Wolf may well be a dark horse after her recent win at Tararwera in New Zealnd. Arguably though, her 2nd at Speedgoat 50km and victory at Flagstaff SkyRace is more indicative of a good performance in La Palma.

Francesca Canepa prefers the longer distance races and although she brings a wealth of experience I believe the Italian will lack the speed required to penetrate the top 5.

Emilie Lecomte like Francesca is a long distance specialist and although she will perform well, it is unlikely she has the speed for the podium.

Meredith Edwards placed 2nd at TDS which confirms that climbing is not an issue, the question mark will be does she have the speed required to make the podium?

Eva Moreda is a solid Skyrunner who placed 5th in the 2017 Skyrunner World Series.

Ildiko Wermescher 3rd at TDS, 2nd at Swissalpine T133 and 2nd Swiss Irontrail confirms that Ildiko can run and handle the vert, however, I think Transvulcania may well be around 30km too short for a podium performance.

Laura Besseghini won the 2016 Dolomite Sky Run and in 2017 won Valmalenco Ultra Trail.

Paloma Lobera potentially could impact on the top-10 but lacks the pace or speed for the podium. She placed 8th at Matterhorn Ultraks in 2017.

Zuzana Bartasova – 7th at Trofeo Kima in 2016.

Natalia Roman – 1st Ultratrack Supramonte 2016 and 2nd Mustang Trail Race 2017.

Juan Maria Jimenez – 10th UTMB and 7th Oman Desert Marathon

Maylis Drevon – 11th Transvulcania 2017 and 2nd Marathon du Mont-Blanc 80km.

Plus many more…

Race Website HERE

As a point of note, other races take place over the Transvulcania weekend:

In the marathon, a key name to watch out for is Ryan Sandes, and in the half marathon, Stian Angermund-Vik for the men and Laura Orgue for the ladies.

Action starts on Thursday with the Vertical Kilometer Transvulcania Binter starting in Tazacorte Puerto at 1700 hrs.

The main events take place on Saturday with Transvulcania starting at 0600 and it is estimated that the first finisher will arrive in Los Llanos around 1230pm.

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Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 4

No pain, no gain – well, that is what they say! Today, was ‘pain’ morning at the Lanzarote Training Camp when all the participants did at least 6 reps of a volcano.

It’s a challenging morning and the vertical gain is designed to replicate the largest jebel that has appeared in all the latest editions of Marathon des Sables.

Steep with lose gravel for the climb and the descent is a mixture of stone, lose rocks and sharp lava – a gravel road section allows some recovery before a repeating.

It was a hot day and although the session was tough – everyone loved it!

A break for lunch and then Elisabet Barnes did a practical workshop of foot care. It’s an essential session that prepares everyone with all the relevant skills to allow them the flexibility to be self-sufficient when racing. Elisabet also showed and demonstrated foot taping as a preventive measure against blisters.

At 6pm, the day concluded with an easy 5 or 10km shake-outrun to loosen the legs!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 3

A long day on the trails this morning with our 40-participants split into 5 groups moving along the stunning coastline on Lanzarote. The technical trails are a challenge and it is fair to say, they are a much greater challenge than those encountered at say, MDS.

Reassuringly, our run/ walk group covered 25km in less than 4-hours. Perfect and a great confidence boost for the race.

The sun was shining, the skies were blue and the ever present wind that is always in Lanzarote, blew in off the sea to help make perfect running conditions.

It was a hot day though and that could be seen on one or two red faces after the run… Remember the sun cream folks!

A break for lunch and then at 4pm a talk/ discussion by MDS 2017 3rd place, Tom Evans.

Tom talked about nutrition and the differences and requirements of each participant. No two runners are the same. For example, the simple calorie needs and differences between a ‘fast’ runner. ‘mid’ runner or ‘walker.’

The type of food you will eat and how it is made up – carbs, protein and fats. For example, 1 to 1.5g of carbs per KG of body weight is considered ideal, 1.5g per KG of protein and 1g of fat per KG – but is that possible in a multi-day race?

As the question: What is normal for you? YOU need to know what you need! All valuable lessons and questions.

For example, a typical day for Tom:

  • Breakfast – Porridge and nuts
  • Whilst running – 2 x GU gels and 100g of Tailwind
  • Recovery – 2 x 70g of weight gain protein shake
  • Dinner – 100g freeze dried meal (LYO) and Pip & Nut peanut butter
  • Hydration – 6 x Nuun tablets

Typically 2623 calories for 665g weight

Hydration, needless to say, so important in any race! You need to sweat to cool muscles, remove toxins and keep ones core cool. Sodium replacement is key.

Tomorrow is another full-day with hill reps in the morning, a foot care workshop and easy shoe-out run!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Half Marathon Des Sables Fuerteventura 2017 Summary

The inaugural Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura has just taken place!

Unlike the legendary bigger brother, the race, as the name suggests, is half the distance of the Moroccan counterpart and as such provides a great opportunity for novices to test themselves over multiple days or, it allows experienced runners to race faster and harder.

300 runners toed the line of the first edition, the only thing known before the start of the race that they would need to cover 120km’s over 3-days. Like the bigger brother, the race route was kept secret till just before the race and of course, runners are required to be self-sufficient – only bivouac and water is provided.

A 7km walk to bivouac 1 followed kit-check thus allowing a phase of ‘adaptation’ before the racing kicked-in. It was an opportunity to check apparel, shoes, gaiters and make sure the pack was sitting and fitting well to the body. Of course, all this should have been dialed in before the race!

A few hundred meters from the ocean, bivouac 1 was an oasis of calm. A final full meal, a night under the stars and the arrival of dawn would see the start of stage 1.

Stage 1 25.5km starting at Playa Las Coloradas and finishing at La Pared Isthmus.

It was a hot day, a really hot day of stifling and oppressive sun.

Deep blue ocean, orange rocks and cliffs were contrasted by black volcanic slopes – a trademark of the Canary Islands – as the runners ran the opening miles to Cp1. As one would expect, a long sandy beach followed leading to a technical path and dune decent to Cp2. The final 3 miles were classic Fuerteventura terrain; sand, stony plateaus and dunes to the bivouac.

Local runner, Yeray Duran was no doubt a pre-race favourite and he didn’t disappoint on day 1 running with Alejandro Fraguela Breijo. The duo pushed hard from the off but Peru’s Remigio Huaman, who completed the Moroccan race earlier in the year, kept an ever-watchful eye. Duran suffered in the heat placing 3rd and Fraguela Breijo took victory almost 5 minutes clear of the Peruvian. Timings were 2:23, 2:28:09 and 2:30:46 respectively.

“Tomorrow is the long stage,” said Huaman post-race. “I need to keep in contention from the start, watch my food, watch my liquid. I like to run easier early and then speed up!”

For the ladies, the UK’s Anna-Marie Watson who just week’s earlier placed top-10 at the UTMB had a great first day. She clinched a solid victory of almost 20 minutes ahead of Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo. Kristina Schou from Denmark was 3rd, their times 3:04:03, 3:23:46 and 3:31:51.

Watson post-race discussed how the first ascent was tough and how the temperatures were high. This is coming from a lady who has placed 2rd overall at the Marathon des Sables Morocco in 2015.

“The sand dune before Cp2 was dreadful,” Watson continued. “I had to compose myself and push on. Tomorrow is the long day and that is my preference so I will rest, recover, eat and prepare.”

Stage 2 66.5km starting Aguas Verdes and finishing at La Pared Isthmus.

A straight north-south stage of oueds, dirt roads, single-track, dunes and ridges was made unbearable by oppressive heat but the stunning ocean provided company and contrast to the glow of orange. After Cp3, the race crossed the pretty village of Pajara and as the day unfolded volcanoes and the ocean would provide relaxing views to a challenging day. Due to a rock slide, the final miles of the route changed thus saving the runners a little over 3km.

As promised, Remigio Huaman used his ultra-running skills and desert running skills honed in Morocco earlier in the year to stamp his mark on the men’s race. He followed his strategy with a steady start but he upped the pace as early as 8km in the 66.5km stage leaving Hernandez Curbelo and Fraguela Breijo struggling. At Cp2 the gap was 8 minutes and at Cp3 it was 13 minutes. As the finish line came, the gap had opened to 30 minutes – an unbeatable lead going into the final day. Hernandez Curbelo improved his strategy and placed 2nd and Fraguela Breijo placed 3rd. For Duran, it was a bad day and he slipped in the day’s ranking to 5th and out of the top 3 after a time penalty for taking an IV drip due to dehydration.

For the ladies’ it came as no surprise that Anna-Marie Watson used her long-distance skills to school the opposition. With each mile, she pulled away and finally finished with a 14-minute lead over Kristina Shou. Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo placed 3rd.

“I had no strategy but to run on feel and listen to my body,” Watson said. “I ran my race not worrying about the competition. It was a great stage, I loved the cliffs underneath the camp and the sun set was incredible.”

Ranking

  1. Remigio Huaman overall 9:03:08
  2. Jonathan Hernandez overall 9:59:59
  3. Fraguela Breijo 10:18:30 
  1. Anna-Marie Watson overall 11:32:22
  2. Kristina Shou overall 12:14:13
  3. Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo overall 12:38:22

 

Stage 3 21.1km starting Tuineje and concluding at Las Playitas

At 10am start at the heart of the island unleashed the runners into the heat of the day and a maximum time of 6 hours to complete the stage. Solidified lava was the terrain of the opening miles followed by dirt roads and the village of Gran Tarajal. Mountains followed with some great climbing and descending before single-track brought the runners home.

Three days, three days racing… There was no easing back or victory lap for the final stage, Remigio Huaman pushed from the front and not only consolidated his lead but extended it averaging over 13.15km per hour for the stage.

“For me, the Half MDS is relatively easy as I am fortunate that I can run quickly,” said Huaman. “I am able to get the stages over, even the long one, quickly. I can eat, rest and recover. However, many of the other runners spend so much time on their feet, they walk long distances, suffer from the heat and suffer from hunger, they are the heroes as are all the staff!”

Duran kept the home crowd happy with 2nd place on the stage and Juan Jose Rodrigues Garcia placed 3rd on the stage ahead of 2nd overall, Jonathan Hernandez Curbelo, the times 1:35:49 for Huaman, 1:39 for Duran and 1:40:30 for Rodriguez Garcia.

Anna-Marie Watson eased off the gas for the last day knowing that victory was secure. This opened a doorway for the Spanish runner Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo to seize an emotional final stage victory in 2:14:03. Watson finished in 2:19:04 and 2nd placed lady overall, Kristina Shou confirmed her consistency with 3rd in 2:20:52.

“My dream started many years ago, 17 actually when I heard of the MDS,” said Watson post-race. “In 2015, I placed 2nd at MDS and in just a few shorts years things have progressed, what a dream!”

As with all multi-day races, the journey of the front-runners is only a very small story of the race. The true race happens behind. Runners fight fatigue, heat, exhaustion and demons just to finish. France’s Mathilde Male sums it up well:

“I am happy the race is over, but I am sad it is coming to an end… My best memory will definitely be the arrival of the long-stage, at around 1am. Staff were cheering and I was with my race partner Christelle, it was magic.”

OVERALL TIMES

  1. Remigio Huaman 10:38:57
  2. Jonathan Hernandez Curbelo 11:41:37
  3. Alejandro Fraguela Breijo 12:05:42

 

  1. Anna-Marie Watson 13:51:26
  2. Kristina Shou 14:35:05
  3. Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo 14:52:25

 

Full results HERE

 

Images ©Cimbaly/ Valentin Campagnie / Marta Bacardit