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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TRANSVULCANIA ULTRAMARATHON 2017 PREVIEW – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked-off in April in China with Yading SkyRun – a 29km ‘SKY CLASSIC’ event that set a new benchmark in high altitude sport. Attention now turns to the iconic Transvulcania Ultramarathon, the first ‘Ultra’ race in the 2017 calendar.

Transvulcania and the island of La Palma has become arguably one of the most well-known races around the world after its inclusion in the SWS in 2012. The motto, Less Cloud, More Sky is personified by this point-to-point course that climbs from sea level all the way up to extended periods of running well above 2000m. The drop from Roques de Los Muchachos has gained a reputation as one of the toughest and most challenging in the world – 2426m in 18km. Tazacorte Port offers some recovery but the final 5km kick up to the finish line in Los Llanos is brutal and in past editions has been a decisive part of the race.

Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg and Ida Nilsson have shone the light for the ladies in recent years and for the men, Dakota Jones, Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernando have set the benchmark of how to cover this tough and challenging course in record times.

The 2017 edition of the race looks set to have all the makings of a classic with a stunning world-class field.

Luis Alberto Hernando will not defend his title this year leaving an opportunity for a new male champion. In the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson will return and after showing incredible form in China at the Kora Ultra – she is without doubt the hot favourite for victory on the trails of the GR131.

The Men’s Race

The race for victory in the men’s category will be a terrifying one as many of the world’s best will go head-to-head.

Nicolas Martin from France placed 2nd in 2016 and excelled at Skyrunning is without doubt a hot favourite for victory.

Hayden Hawks a rising star from the USA who is setting a fast trail following in the footsteps of Walmsley and Miller. He will go out all guns blazing. He already has two victories over the 50km and 55km distance in 2016 and 2nd at Chuckanut 50km.

 

Pau Capell from Spain who is currently on a roll after victory at Transgrancanaria and 2nd at MIUT (Madeira Island Ultra Trail) will without doubt be a contender for the podium if not victory. He’s on fire at the moment!

UTMB reigning champion Ludovic Pommeret from France had a great 2016 with three victories, a 2nd, 3rd and 5th place in Maxi Race China, MSIG Lantau 50 and the IAU World Trail Champs. In 2017, he has only raced once, March, at the Trail du Ventoux and he placed 2nd.

Xavier Thevenard also from France who is the only runner to win all UTMB events – OCC, TCC, TDS and UTMB.  In March he placed 8th behind Pommeret’s 2nd at Trail du Ventoux but recently placed 3rd at MIUT behind Francois D’Haene and Pau Capell – maybe the form is coming?

Tom Owens from the UK is in fine form now after a stunning victory at The Coastal Challenge and in Costa Rica and 2nd at the ‘Three Peaks’ in the UK. He has raced in La Palma before and struggled with the heat, this year will be a different story.

Remigio Huaman from Perú recently raced at MDS and excelled with a top placing. He is new to Skyrunning but he laid some great foundations in 2016.

And finally, Hardrock 100 winner Jason Schlarb from the USA rounds out the top challengers for the podium places after a solid The Coastal Challenge earlier this year and a recent win at Zion 55km.

Dimitris Theodorakakos from Greece has also raced well in La Palma in the past and he will be a contender ahead of one of the strongest male fields this island has ever seen:

Diego Camacho,

Dmitry Mityaev,

Nuno Silva,

Roger Viñas,

Jan Bartas,

Fulvio Dapit,

Daniel Jung,

Daniel Aguirre,

Manuel Anguita,

Thomas Angeli,

Lamnbert Santelli,

Iván Ortiz,

Héctor Haines,

Francesc Sole,

David López Castán,

Davide Cheraz,

Santiago Obaya,

Ignacio Conde,

Antonio Manjón,

Martin Schedler,

Zdenek Kriz,

Peter Fankhauser,

Ernest Ausiro,

Santos Gabriel Rueda,

Alejandro Fraguela,

Basilio Labrador,

José Carlos Vera,

Francisco Javier Rodríguez,

Santiago García,

Pere Aurell,

Agustín Luján Maldonado,

Iván Cáceres,

Chico Santos,

Martial Collomb,

and Xavier Teixido.

 

The Ladies Race

Ida Nilsson from Sweden will be head and shoulders above the rest of the field if she shows anything of the form she had at the recent racing in China at the Yading Skyrunning Festival. In 2016, she won Transvulcania and The Rut in addition to the Endurance Challenge 50 in December.

Anne Lise Rousset from France had a very solid 2016 and took a stunning victory at High Trail Vanoise. Two 2nd’s at The Rut and Transvulcania most certainly make her a potential winner in 2017.

Andrea Huser from Switzerland is relentless in her racing calendar. This year she has already taken two victories and one second place at Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan, MIUT and Transgrancanaria. She will without doubt be in contention for a top placing but for me, will lack the speed needed to win this race.

Hillary Allen from the USA had a solid year Skyrunning in 2016 with a string of podium places at The Rut, Ultra Pirineu, Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and Transvulcania. It’s fair to say she was tired at the end of the year and I believe that Transvulcania kicks-off her 2017 campaign.

 

Kristina Pattison also from the USA like Hillary Allen had a strong 2016 with a sting of top places typically between 4th and 6th.

Ragna Debats from Holland was 3rd at the IAU World Trail Champs in 2016 – a stand out performance. Just last weekend she placed 2nd in China at the Yading races. She will be in the mix for the top-5.

Mimmi Kotka from Sweden won the CCC in 2016 along with Gran Trail Courmayeur and Trail des Balcons d’Azur – I think she may well be a surprise package of the 2017 edition of Transvulcania.

Cassie Scallon from the USA has won three races in 2017 already – Gorge Waterfalls 50km. Nine Trails 35m and La Cuesta Ranch Trail Run. However, her victory at Bandera 100km in 2016 is her stand out performance. More importantly, her 16th placing at Festival de Templiers is maybe more relevant to Transvulcania.

Zuzana Urbancova from the Czech Republic placed 7th at Trofeo Kima and 8th at USM in 2016 – she is contender for the top-10 and maybe the top-5 if she has a good day!

Corrine Malcolm from the USA was 6th at The Rut in 2016 and a recent 2nd at the Yakima Skyline Rim 50km shows that 2017 form is coming.

Verónica Bravo from Chile has a great pedigree in adventure racing and has won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

Ekaterina Mityaeva from Russia has slowly but surely made her presence felt in the Skyrunning world, her best result 4th at Ultra Pirineu.

Maïlys Drevon placed 2nd at Mont-Blanc 80km and heads up a string of other top-female contenders will be chasing the ladies above:

Eva María Moreda,

Raquel Martínez,

Sara Longoni,

María Yolanda Fernández,

Tracy Dean,

Natalia Román,

Noelia Camacho,

Ana Begoña González,

Elisabeth Margeirsdottir,

Manikala Rai,

Svetlana Buravova.

Action kicks-off in La Palma on Thursday with the Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer, the second race in the ‘new’ 2017 VERTICAL KILOMETER® WORLD CIRCUIT HERE

The main event of the weekend, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon starts on Saturday the 13th at 0600 hours. The route begins at Faro de Fuencaliente and continues through the “Gran Recorrido” trail GR 131, also known as ‘Ruta del Bastón’, until Puerto de Tazacorte. Connecting with the GR 130, Camino Real de la Costa, the route continues until the finish line located in Plaza de España – Los Llanos de Aridane.

*****

The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The Chinese company, Migu Run, under the name of Migu Xempower, was the Series’ main sponsor in 2016.

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series features 22 races in 11 countries and will reward the champions in the various categories a € 60,000 end of season prize purse.

The Chinese company Migu Run, the creator and owner of an advanced online and offline exercise and health management platform, has been announced as the new long-term title sponsor of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series beginning in 2017.

The Series is structured in three categories, Sky Classic, Sky Extreme and Sky Ultra, counting 22 races in 11 countries stretching from April to October.

Transgrancanaria 125km 2017 Race Preview

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From the heat and humidity of Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge to the the Canary island of Gran Canaria and the Transgrancanaria 125km.

This is my fourth year working on the flagship 125km race and once again it appears in the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) calendar. The race starts on Friday evening, 24th February at 2300 hours’ local time. If it was ever in doubt, this race is a tough one! With over 8000m of positive gain, each and everyone of those 125km’s will be felt by the the time the runners reach the finish.

Starting on the north-west coast, the race travels south via the mountainous spine of Gran Canaria and then arrives at the finish, close to the sea in Maspalomas. The route is logical and therefore very appealing from a run aesthetic point of view. 

Over the years, the race has had some stellar performances and 2017 will see the return of the 2016 champions, Caroline Chaverot and Didrik Hermansen.

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Male Contenders

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Didrik Hermansen won the race last year with a high quality and well paced performance. He followed Transgrancanaria up with a stunning Western States and world-class 100km races. Didrik can mix running and climbing and therefore goes into the 2017 race as the hot favourite. Fellow Norwegian, Sondre Amdahl, tells me that Didrik is in great shape!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-2824©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0660 The UK’s Andy Symonds ran a stunning race in 2016 and placed 5th – I have a felling he will be on the podium this year! His 2016 season was solid one with UTMB being his only blip. A win at Lavaredo, 2nd at Buff Epic behind Luis Alberto Hernando and 4th at Transvulcania confirms that Andy’s stepping stones to longer racing is working – 2017 will be his year and I also hear he will be racing at Marathon des Sables.

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Diego Pazos finished 3rd last year and what followed was a steady growth in the sport. I predicted he was a ‘one-to-watch’ for 2017 and I stand by that. His victory Mont-Blanc 80km confirmed that he is on the up.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-2663 Antoine Guillon placed on the podium previously and I have no reason to doubt that he can provide a repeat performance. In real terms, the podium may well be decided by those who pace themselves and come strong in the latter stages. Antoine may well be one of these guys – he will be able to bring the ‘long game’ to the race, something he learned when he won Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) in 2015. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0072

Yeray Duran is Transgrancanaria regular and is very popular within Spain and the Canary Islands. Arguably, it was Transgrancanaria that elevated his profile. He had a tough race last year but that blip is not indicative of how Yeray runs – I think we will see him up there this year.
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Julien Chorier is always a tip for the podium and victory – he is one seriously classy runner. He was 2nd at Transgrancaria in 2014 and 7th last year. Mixing Hardrock and Western States shows that Julien can mix speed and climbing perfectly – one to watch for the top-5 for sure and maybe the podium!

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Timothy Olson has raced on the island before (2014) and placed 3rd. He arrived in advance of this years race to train and prepare, something he has done on many occasions for multiple races. Normally, I would be pushing Timmy for the win but for the past year or so, the form has been missing. So, it’s difficult to predict the outcome here in the Canaries. Can Timmy win? Absolutely! So, lets cross our fingers and hope that we see a return to 2013 when this guy was on fire! 

Pau Capell won the 85km event previously and last year held hands with Diego Pazoz and crossed the line for an equal 3rd place. He will be up there!

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Fabien Antolinus is a runner I first met at Les Templiers and since then he has continually impressed with his ability to mix speed and climbing to great results. Two years ago he was 5th at UTMB but for me, his performances at Ice Trail Tarentaise were stand out. He’s a top-5 contender for sure.

iancorless-com_etr2016-8828 Casey Morgan will keep UK interest high. He’s been up there at Transgrancanaria in the past and currently he is on a roll with a series of top quality victories. I last saw him race at Everest Trail Race and he was in great shape. He followed that race with another race victory in the Spanish mountains and just recently he raced in Hong Kong with great success.

Fulvio Dapit has come close in the past and is often let down with stomach issues. He won’t make the podium but he will be up in the top-10.

Ones to watch: 

  • Freddy Thevenin
  • Daniel Jung
  • Ben Duffus
  • Gerard Morales
  • Fritjof Fagerlund
  • Nicola Bassi
  • Dimity Mityaev

and many more…

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Female Contenders

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-6618This race has Caroline Chaverot’s name written all over it and no disrespect to the other female competitors but I don’t see anyone coming close to this French lady. Caroline was on fire in 2016 and was for me, THE, female ultra-runner of the year. She was unstoppable with a sting of high-profile victories. In summary, anyone who wins UTMB, becomes UTWT champion, becomes Skyrunning World Champion and IAU World Trail Champion all in one-year deserves the upmost respect. I think she will win the race by at least 1-hour!
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I am going to throw a curve ball in and put my neck on the line with a stunning performance expectation from the UK’s Beth Pascall. She will be somewhat of a dark horse over in Gran Canaria but she has all the potential to produce a shock. She has with the UK’s Spine Race and the shorter distance, Challenge Race. She obliterated the ladies’ record at the Lakeland 100 and won the Hoka Highland Fling. One to watch! *Update 21st Feb, Beth will not race due to an injury to her foot.

Andrea Huser never stops. She is like Michael Wardian and each time she runs I am amazed with her ability to recover and race again. She doesn’t have the speed of Caroline and therefore, providing Caroline has no problems. I don’t see the Swiss lady beating her. However, she has a list of results that makes the podium almost guaranteed – victories at Lavaredo, Diagonale des Fous and Swiss Irontrail and let’s not forget 2nd at UTMB behind Caroline!


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Azara Garcia and Gemma Arenas have set their tables out in Skyrunning races and we know that have speed and can climb with the best. However, 125km and 8000m of vertical is a long way and this may well be the downfall for the Spanish duo. Gemma probably has the edge over Azara as she has excelled at Ultra Pirineu with victory. For Gemma, I see 125km possibly being a real learning curve.

Lisa Borzani likes the long and mountainous races such as Tor des Geants and Ronda dels Cims – that will set her up well for this tough and challenging Transgrancanaria course. She may lack the speed but as others fade, she will continue to push strong. 

Manuela Vilaseca was 5th at Transgrancanaria two-years ago and in this line-up, I believe the podium is a possibility – a win would only really come should Andrea and Caroline have bad races.  

Ildiko Wermescher would be a long shot for the podium but a top-5 and certainly a top-10 is a distinct possibility. 2016 seemed to be a below par year but 2014 saw the German lady place 4th at Transgrancanaria.
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Debbie Martin-Consani is my dark horse for a shake up in the ladies’ rankings. Like Beth Pascall, she is a Lakeland 100 winner and she has excelled at other 100-milers and races like Spartathlon, she ha s also raced in a GB vest. Word on the street (or the hills) is that Debbie has been going up and down those Scottish mountains to prepare for this 125km race. 

Ones to watch:

  • Yulia Baykova
  • Jen Benna
  • Laura Barrera
  • Caroline Rohrl
  • Laia Diez

and many more…

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