Transgrancanaria 2017 Pre-Race

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Countdown to the 2017 #Transgrancanaria and everyone is registered and prepared to toe the start line at 2300 hours local time.

It’s going to be a very competitive race both for the ladies’ and the men – Didrik Hermansen and Caroline Chaverot are here to defend their 2016 titles.

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Strong competition will come in the ladies’ race from Andrea Huser, Gemma Arenas and so many more…

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In the men’s race, Didrik will have his hands full fighting off Diego Pazos, Yeray Duran, Pau Capell and Andy Symonds amongst others. Julian Chorier will not run due to a broken rib.

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You can read a full preview of the 125km race HERE

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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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Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc UTMB® 2016 Preview

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I won’t be at UTMB this year, Trofeo Kima is happening the same weekend in Italy and I wouldn’t miss this high octane extreme event for anything, especially when it only happens every other 2 years.

But UTMB has a stellar line up this year. It’s going to be a cracking race.

Just in case you didn’t know, UTMB is a 170km circular journey that starts and finishes in Chamonix passing through France, Italy and Switzerland with 10,000+ meters of vertical gain on non-technical trails. In 2014 Francois D’Haene of France set the men’s course record 20:11:44 and the female course record is held by Rory Bosio (USA) who ran 22:37:26 in 2013. Rory in the process ranked in the top-10 overall that year!

Recently, UTMB has hit the headlines after a top 10 finisher in the 2015 race, Gonzalo Calisto, was tested and found positive for EPO. This came to light in June when the IAAF added Calisto’s suspension to its website. However, UTMB were not notified of this positive test? In recent weeks and months, many investigations have been made and you can read them all on this website HERE. Ultimately, this positive test has raised alarm bells and certain aspects of the testing and notification procedure need to change. I hope UTMB will have testing once again this year and they provide data and information to the media.

Racing for the main starts on Friday August 26th at 1800hrs local time and it looks like a great weekend of weather is in store for spectators, it may be a little hot for the runners. Please also remember that many other events happen in and around the UTMB, the PTL, TDS and CCC.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando is in a good place! He is a new Dad, has raced less and when he has raced he has been in top form. A repeat win at Transvulcania and dominant performance at the Skyrunning World Championships for a gold medal and world title and suddenly you begin to see everything clicking into place. Luis dropped from the 2014 UTMB and then came back, one year later to place 2nd. Luis does always race from the front and hard, he tempered this in 2015 but it still may well be his achilles heel in 2016? I hope not, Luis would be a popular champion!

David Laney third at UTMB and 8th at Western States in 2015 are two very significant performances and bode well for a great 2016 UTMB. What doesn’t bode well is the most recent 20+ hour finish at Western States. It leaves a huge question mark on David’s current physical and mental ability to take on the big dance in Chamonix.

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Andy Symonds for me is the dark horse. It’s his first 100 miler and that is a huge disadvantage. But Andy knows how to race, prepares meticulously and I know he’s fired up for this race. In the past he has often played 2nd fiddle at the big races but a podium at Transgrancanaria, a victory at Lavaredo and 2nd (silver) behind Luis at the Skyrunning World Championships tells me that the time is right for the Brit who lives in France. Listen to the podcast here.

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Zach Miller is relatively easy to write about… we will see one of two performances: 1. An all guns blazing early race that potentially will open up a gap that he extends and holds on to take the biggest victory of his life! 2. As 1 but a major blow up that sees him lose the lead and drop substantial places or a resulting DNF. Think Max King at Leadville.

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Didrik Hermansen is a potential revelation in Chamonix and I do believe that he can win. I said that at Western States after I saw his run and victory at Transgrancanaria. He didn’t disappoint in the USA and he placed 2nd at WSER. UTMB is a different playground but this guy can run and hike – he is going to need all those skills in France, Italy and Switzerland. Listen to the podcast here.

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Jason Schlarb was fourth at UTMB in 2014, won Run Rabbit Run, completed Marathon des Sables. skied the Hardrock 100 course, won the Hardrock 100 with Kilian Jornet and here he is, in Chamonix, looking to do an epic double – you know what, I think he can do it! I’m not sure that he will have those extra percentages for victory, Hardrock may well have but pay to that. But I do see a potential top 5 and even the podium if the stars align. Listen to the podcast with him here.

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Gediminas Grinius 5th at UTMB in 2014 and what followed was quite a rise in the sport of ultra-running. Gediminas has an interesting back story of post-traumatic stress and it is running that helped. When you have been to hell, pain in an ultra is nothing. It’s worth remembering that this guy can dig deep. A win at Transgrancanaria, a win at UTMF and a string of top 2nd places certainly elevate GG for a top UTMB place. Listen to the podcast here.

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Tofol Castanyer won CCC and was 2nd at UTMB in 2014. He has a string of top performances and results but his recent form seems a question mark. On paper, he’s a podium contender but I said that last year and he didn’t finish. We will have to see?

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Ryan Sandes had a tough 2015 and has patiently come back in 2016 with a 3rd place in Tararwera and 4th place in Australia at the Ultra Trail. Ryan never likes to race a great deal preferring to train and prepare meticulously for key events. He has done that in the past, Western States for example only to not race at the 11th hour due to injury or illness. Apart from FKT records, Ryan’s career highlights are his win at Transgrancanaria and top results at UTMF and WSER. Ryan has been in Chamonix for some time training and I hope he will arrive at the line fresh. He has all the potential to shake up the podium. Listen to the podcast here.

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Fabien Antolinus is an under the radar runner who is known in France and not many other places. A top consistent performer at Templiers and the Ice Trail Tarentaise, Fabien backed this up last year with a 6th place finish at UTMB behind a doping Gonzalo Calisto, so, he finished 5th really. I see a potential repeat performance.

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Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras could win, could finish in the top 10, may not start and if he does start, may not finish. Yes, Miguel is a class act when the stars align but neither he or us can predict when this will happen. A highlight for sure was his UTMB 2nd behind Xavier Thevenard in 2013.

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Javier Dominguez just had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto and Andy Symonds. He also placed 3rd at Lavaredo. Although he will be in the mix he is potentially a top 5-10 finisher.

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Julien Chorier has the long game, strength and persistence for a top UTMB performance. I’ve seen him time and time again grind out great results. His victory at Ronda dels Cims a few years back is still one of the most dominant performances of running I have seen. Julien has backed that up at Western States, Hardrock, Diagonale des Fous, UTMF and of course UTMB. His best UTMB was 3rd in 2008 and in 2013 he finished 6th.

Paul Giblin for me is a dark horse. Last year he missed UTMB and compensated with focusing on Western States in 2016, he placed 5th. That’s one of the UK’s best performances at the race. He’s a runner and the 10,000m of vertical may go against his natural abilities but don’t rule him out! Listen to the podcast here.

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You have to draw a line somewhere but we also need to consider, Diego Pazoz who has illuminated several races in 2016, most notably victory at the Eiger Ultra Trail and Mont-Blanc 80km.

He could be a huge surprise as could Stephan Hugenschmidt from Germany who has had many notable results.

Zdenek Kris finished 9th at Ultra Perineu in 2015 and recently placed 5th at the Skyrunning World Championships.

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Two Frenchmen, Arnaud Lejeune who was 2nd at UTMF in 2015 and Thomas Lorblanchet who has wins at Leadville and 4th at Western States will also mix things up.

Ryan Smith, Pau Bartolo, Jez Bragg, Aurelian Collet, Ludovic Pommeret, Armand Teixeira, Jordi Bes and Bertrand Collomb-Patton all have top 10 and certainly top 20 potential.

Needless to say there is a whole stack of other male talent that have experienced UTMB before somewhere in and around the top 50. Any of these runners who could make a breakthrough performance and venture into the high ranking top 20’s or even top 10. It’s what makes the race so interesting.

LADIES

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Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio holds the course record at UTMB – nuff said! Any lady that finishes in the top-10 overall rocks. But where has Rory been since her repeat victory in 2014? Well, believe it or not, she was filming a reality TV show… really, Rory is an actress! In 2015 she won the Atacama Extreme but other than that she has been relatively low key when racing. UTMB performances are backed up by 2nd, 4th and 5th at Western States so Rory needs no other boosting. I do wonder though if she is in the ‘A’ game frame of mind of 2013 and 2014? We will find out…

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Caroline Chaverot for me is the lady that will win UTMB 2016. Caroline is a machine who smiles from beginning to end and her performances over the last 18-24 months have blown me away. She does race a great deal and I think that went against her at UTMB in 2015 when she DNF’d. This year though I have noticed a difference… she obliterated the Transgrancanaria course, she obliterated the MUT in Madeira and she became Skyrunning World Champion at the Buff Epic Trail – 2016 is Caroline’s UTMB year!

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Nuria Picas has twice finished 2nd and I would normally talk Nuria up as the winner. Last year she dropped early and since has had very mixed performances. I do believe she has the UTWT curse of running and winning too many races in a short period of time which has left her drained. I have seen this in 2016 at Transgrancanaria and most recently at the Buff Epic Trail. Of course, Nuria may well have been savvy and kept her powder dry for Chamonix – I hope so! *August 24th, Nuria will unfortunately not run the 2016 edition due to an injury.

Magdalena Boulet will be there or thereabouts but for me, this course will not allow enough running which is Magda’s strength. No doubt she will be in the mix, her 2nd at CCC proved that but 170k and 10,000m is a big difference to CCC or Western States. Listen to the podcast here.

Uxue Fraille will be out of the mix early on and keep going and produce a solid finish. Uxue’s success is all about pacing and finishing. She lets the other ladies race and fade and then she sweeps them up in the final 1/3rd. Last year she placed 2nd at UTMB and she won UTMF.

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Jasmin Paris is one lady who may well win UTMB one day. I’d love to say that 2016 will be the year but I don’t think it will happen. Jasmin runs a great deal and therefore rarely ‘peaks’ for any one race. This is sometimes a good thing but also a bad thing. Although Jasmin can run long, this will be her first big 100+ miler and the Chamonix experience may well overwhelm her. This year she blitzed the Bob Graham Round FKT to a new level and a week after getting married took bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships and then won Tromso SkyRace. Personally, I feel Jasmin’s forte and skill set will be best suited to the Skyrunner courses where her fell and mountain running background really shines. She will do well at UTMB but this year will be a learning curve. Don’t get me wrong though, top 5 and certainly top 3 is possible. Listen to the podcast here.

Andrea Huser like Jasmin is a non-stop racer and for me always lacks that extra 5-10% when required due to a constant element of fatigue. Her string of top 2nd and 3rd places for me confirm this. In this 2016 field, Andrea can better her 2014 7th and potentially will make the top 5 and may even challenge the podium but I don’t see a victory.

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Fernanda Maciel is a another runner who mixes many sports, races regularly and is always in and around the action. Like Andrea Huser, I see her in the mix but not taking the top slot. If we look at recent results, the consistency is there – 4th at UTMB in 2010, 3rd at MDS, 3rd at Lavaredo 2016 and a string of other podium places at UTWT races. * Fernanda will not run 23rd August. News from her doctors: “They said I was in an advanced stage of injuries to my kidneys caused by my last 2 long races due to dehydration I suffered during the races. Now my blood tests from last friday done here in Chamonix seem normal but not 100% recovered, and of course I am thinking of the UTMB on friday… I’m really sad because they only told me it today!”

Emilie Lecomte has the long game, strength and tenacity for a 170km race but she lacks the speed of many of the other ladies. A top 10 is an almost guaranteed and as other ladies fade, we can expect Emilie to move up.

Francesca Canepa and Emilie Lecomte in many ways are similar runners and Francesca has a strong history with UTMB and Tor des Geants. On her day, she can be up there and in the mix. Recently her form has been questionable.

Amy Sproston has won Hurt 100 and placed 2nd at Western States. For me, Amy is a runner but then again, Hurt has some gnarly terrain on those 20-mile loops, so, is this the year that Amy puts UTMB demons to rest? Her history is not good with the race – three starts and only one finish when she placed 8th.

Aliza Lapierre is potentially the USA’s top contender behind Rory Bosio. Her list of results in all varieties of races bodes well for a solid UTMB. But at really specific races, Transgrancanaria for example the mountainous terrain has caused her to struggle a little. Aliza like to run and although UTMB has plenty of that, it also has plenty of hands-on-knee action.

Larisa Dannis likes a running race and like many of the American ladies the increased vertical causes an issue. On paper though, she has the racing pedigree for a top performance. you don’t get 2nd at Western States by accident.

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Ester Alves is a good friend and races too much (sorry Ester). One day, Ester will pick a race and prepare meticulously for it and then excel. I saw this earlier this year when she won and dominated The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. I think what worked there was it was the first race of the season and she could therefore be specific over the winter. What has followed is a string of races in many varied locations with a list of good results but no stand out results! Ester placed 8th at the 2014 UTMB so the potential is there!

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Gemma Arenas I know well in the Skyrunning circles but this will be her first 100 and it’s a tough one with strong competition. It will be a learning curve.

Like in the men’s race, curve balls will swing in and we can expect to see these ladies’ mixing it up, Silke KoesterNicky Spinks, Sally McRae, Sarah Willis, Sophie Grant, Frederica Boifava, Joelle Vaught, Alissa St. Laurent and Manu Vilaseca amongst others.

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Transgrancanaria 2016 – Race Summary and Images

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The 2016 Transgrancanaria concluded in Maspalomas this morning at 5am after many runners battled through two nights and a long hot day to achieve the goal of completing the 125km journey from the north to the south of the island. It’s a race of many challenges!

The first big European race on the calendar, Transgrancanaria always attracts a high quality elite field and this year was no different. Starting at 2300 hours on Friday under warm skies, runners left the coastal town of Agaete and then weaved a route through many climbs and descents on what is a very demanding island to run on.

Aurelien Collet and Caroline Chaverot started the race like two possessed animals, constantly pushing and dictating the pace at the front. Chaverot was not a surprise after her string of recent high quality results and her 2nd place in Transgrancanaria last year. Collet though was a surprise!

As the runners ran into the night, Artenara was one of the first key aid stations and it soon became clear that the evening temperatures were causing many problems. A wind had started to increase off the coast and with it temperatures dropped.

By contrast, day temperatures were very warm and in the men’s race Roque Nublo became a significant point in the race as 2015 winner, Gediminas Grinius closed on Collet who had dictated the pace from the start.

Hermansen was also closing on Grinius and we knew the race was on!

In the ladies race, Chaverot’s lead was so huge it would have taken an injury for her to lose her lead, particularly after the withdrawal of Nuria Picas in the night with an injury. Emelie Lecomte, Andrea Huser and Uxue Fraile were pursuing but they were in a different race.

Hermansen finally took hold of the race in the section between Garanon and Pico de las Nieves when he overtook Collet. Grinius pursued but Hermann was committed to victory, something that he had prepared meticulously for having placed 2nd in 2015. He stopped the clock in 13:41:48 which established a new course record*

Pau Capell, winner of Transgrancanaria’s Advanced race in 2015, moved up a notch to finish on the podium jointly with Diego Pazos for third.

Caroline Chaverot was in a league of her own this year, committed, focused and dedicated, she was like a machine! Despite her huge lead, Chaverot continued to push the pace all the way to the finish and she also, like Hermansen, set a new course record and finished in the top-20 overall. Her closest rival was Andrea Huser who was almost 2 hours behind. Uxue Fraile finished 3rd.

*This years course has now been changed over the final 25km which is slightly less distance but more technical.

Results

  1. Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48
  2. Gediminas Grinius 13:45:08
  3. Pau Capell and Diego Pazos 14:11:02
  1. Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40
  2. Andrea Huser 17:21:43
  3. Uxue Fraile 17:28:05

Transgrancanaria 2016 – Elite Press Conference

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Many of the top elite runners assembled in Maslpalomas, Gran Canaria yesterday evening for the Transgrancanaria 2016 elite press conference.

In the past few years, Transgrancanaria has grown as the first big European race that in many ways sets the scene for what is to come later in the year.

The 2016 edition of the race is no different.

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2015 champion Gediminas Grinius is back and looking to defend his crown but he is going to have a tough job. He said:

“I feels no pressure now but as I stand on the start, the tension will come and then will be soon released. I am here to perform to the best of my ability.”

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Seth Swanson from the USA is considered to be a dark horse, his repeat 2nd places at the past editions of Western States and 4th at UTMB not only means that he has pace to run fast but that he can also climb and descend.

“I’m really happy to be back in Europe and the opportunity to run across an island, from the top to the bottom, is one of the unique attraction of the Transgrancanaria race.”

Julien Chorier, Yan Long Fei, Antoine Guillon, Didrik Hermansen, Jonas Buud, Tim Tollefson, Sondre Amdahl, Andy Symonds, Seb Chaigneau, Yeray Duran are just some of the other top elite men who will contest the finish line on Saturday outside the Palais de Congress in Maspalomas.

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The ladies race has less depth but two time champion Nuria Picas is back and of course a hot favourite for victory. Last years 2nd placed lady, Caroline Chaverot is also one to watch:

“I want to have a good race, a pleasant journey and I hope I don’t get lost… last year I made a couple of mistakes.”

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The USA’s Angela Shartel was also present and excited to be racing in Europe for the first time.

Dong Li, Uxue Fraile, Manuela Vilaseca, Lisa Borzani, Anrea Huser and Silvia Trigueros are also hot contenders for the top-3 podium places.

Racing starts at 2300 (local time) on Friday March 4th

Read a full race preview HERE

Transgrancanaria 2016 #TGC16 – Race Preview

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747March rolls around once again and with it, the Transgrancanaria. Arguably, the Canarian island of Gran Canaria kicks off the serious European racing calendar with the Transgrancanaria and 2016, like all previous years, once again has a quality line up.

On first impressions, the male and female elite field may not have the depth of some previous editions, but those who are racing bring a high pedigree to the race and the action at the front, as always, will be fast and tough.

Transgrancanaria is a tough, tough course with some brutal and relentless climbing, particularly in the opening kilometers under darkness. What follows is a rollercoaster of Canarian landscape that leads the runners from the north of the island, all the way down to the south, with a finish close to the sea. It’s a logical and pleasing crossing of the island.

Past editions of the race have been criticized for the final 10-20km that involved running in what felt like a concrete tube, I have been informed that a new finish route is planned and so therefore we can expect finish times different to previous editions.

This route, the island, the weather and the unpredictable nature that a 125km route brings guarantees that we are in for a special battle. Now in its 3rd edition as part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) the 2016 Transgrancanaria will be an exciting race.

Map

Heading up the male line-up is 2015 champion, Gediminas Grinius. We coined a phrase last year that Gediminas has become the #GrinReaper. He lived up to that reputation in the 2015 race when he closed like a demon to win the race against a world-class field. Gediminas has been a revelation over the past 2-years and his rise in the sport has been great to watch. Without doubt, he is a hot favourite for the 2016 win.

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Didrik Hermansen and Sondre Amdahl will not be far behind Gediminas, this duo raced side-by-side in 2015 and on that occasion, Hermansen took the 2nd podium place. He followed this with a win at Lavaredo and 3rd at UltraVasen. This duo have had an equally impressive rise in the sport over the last 2-years, particularly Amdahl who races regularly. He follows up Transgrancanaria with his first multi-day race; Marathon des Sables. Sondre placed 4th at Transgrancanaria last year and 4th at UTMF, his best result coming at Hong Kong 100 where he placed 2nd.
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An exciting prospect is the USA’s Seth Swanson. Seth is very much a runner who is below the radar in Europe, however, his podium (2nd) back-to-backs at Western States elevate him to a complete surprise package on the Canarian trails of Gran Canaria. The big question will come with the relentless hands-on-knees climbing that Transgrancanaria brings. Of course, he placed 4th at UTMB so I have it on good authority that Seth can look after himself… one to watch for the win! ©iancorless.com_EcoTrailMadeira2015-9101

Julien Chorier always impresses me on tough and technical courses, in addition to his all around climbing ability, he can run with the best too. His experiences on Gran Canaria are also good (2nd in 2014 behind Ryan Sandes), he knows the course, he has been on the podium and we can expect a top drawer performance that will contest the podium once again. Julien placed 6th at Western States, so if he is in a neck-to-neck with Swanson later in the race, my money is on Swanson. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6897

Antoine Guillon is a UTWT regular and in the past has raced every race in the calendar, he often misses the big victory because of this but his consistency is 100%. You can almost predict that if injury does not hit h will be in the top-10 and has a good chance of top-5. He placed 3rd last year and also won Raid de la Reunion. ©iancorless.com-9303Kima2014_

Like Swanson, Yan Long Fei will also be another surprise package for the podium and potential win. His gentle rise in the sport has been special to watch and his recent 2nd place result in Hong Kong 100 will boost his confidence for Transgrancanaria. ©iancorless.com_ITT2015-0065

Andy Symonds is back on form after extended injury and this course will suit the Brit who lives in France. The only question may come with the distance and potential time on feet, 125km is a long race for Andy but he does have plans to extend his range and Transgrancanaria is a good place to start. Andy had 5 victories in 2015, the last coming at Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkai ahead of Julien Chorier. He also completed the super tough and technical ELS2900. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-7329

Yeray Duran represents the local talent; he always performs well on a race that may well be the highlight of his year. Other top names to watch are Pau Capell, Toti Bes, Jordi Camito, Pau Bartolo and the return of Sebastien Chaigneau.

*Late additions to my entry list come no bigger than Miguel Heras (ouch! if he is on form he could crush it), Jonas Buud is super fast and can climb as we have seen at UTMB and Skyrunning hot shot Franco Colle will love this 8000m+ course.
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Nuria Picas heads up the ladies’ field and is the two time defending champion. I wouldn’t want to bet against her on this course and one only needs to look at her pal mares for a confirmation of her ability. Nuria had 4 victories in 2015 that included Grand raid Reunion, arguably though her most impressive year is 2014 with 7 victories and 2nd at UTMB.
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Caroline Chaverot has been a revelation over the past 2-years and her growth in the sport phenomenal. Like Nathalie Macular, she is a wife and a mother who manages to race at the highest level. Caroline placed 2nd behind Picas in 2015 but went on to win at Lavaredo and the Eiger Ultra Trail. I saw Caroline in December while I was in La Palma, she was training on the Transvulcania route. If it all comes together, she can win and certainly make the podium.

Uxue Fraile has always impressed me with her waiting game and patience. She is not the fastest lady in the race but she has the patience and the long game. She proved this in 2015 with a victory at UTMF and 2nd at UTMB. Axe’s last time at Transgrancanaria was in 2014 with 6th place, I think the podium may well be hers in 2016.

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Andrea Huser placed 4th at Transgrancanaria in 2015 and then followed up with 12 races where she ranked in the top-5 at all of them with Matterhorn Ultraks the exception where she placed 8th. One would arguably say that she races too much… she is relentless. I get tired looking at her result sheet but an early season race may well mean she is fresh!

Silvia Trigueros may mix things up for the podium as her recent 3rd place at Hong Kong 100 confirms. This result is backed up with a solid 2015 and in particular a top result at UTMB where she placed 4th.
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Dong Li placed 3rd last year and backed this up with strong performances at TNF100 in Australia and the 80km Mont-Blanc.

Lisa Borzani recently placed 2nd at Hong Kong 100 and therefore this elevates her to a contender for the Transgrancanaria podium. However, her results do seem to blow hot and cold, this is reflected with 14th at the Eiger and 10th at Lavaredo.

Manuela Vilaseca placed 5th last year and with this lady’s line-up, I think we can expect a repeat performance. Her 5th place at Lavaredo backs this up as does her 10th at UTMB.

The wild card is Angela Shartel who I know little about but her results are impressive; 1st Bear 100 mile, 1st Cruel Jewel 100 mile, 1st at Crown King Scramble 50k and that is just 2015 – watch this space.

Race website HERE

Racing takes place this coming weekend March 4th – 6th and you can view images, read reports and follow the racing on all my usual channels.

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The North Face Transgrancanaria 2015 – Race Summary

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Some times you just need to throw the script out of the window… Forget who may and who may not be race favourite and just let things play out like a piece of impromptu art. The 2015 Transgrancanaria certainly threw some curve balls! 

View race images HERE

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In the ladies race, it was business as usual for the 2014 champion, Nuria Picas. Biding her time in the early stages, Nuria took over the front of the race with approximately 90km to go and never really looked back. Running through the night the Catalan felt good but commented on how hard the trail was. As she ran to Roqué Nublio and to El Garañón she looked tired and weak. Post race Nuria went on to say, ‘I felt weak because of a lack of meal but luckily I could overcome it.’ And overcome it she did but it was no easy victory. With dawn came the heat of the day and a ‘calima’ that dried the throats of each and every runner. Crossing the line, Nuria saluted the crowd with another high quality victory and following on from a podium place at HK100, the stage looks set for another great year in the UTWT series.

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Nikki Kimball and Fernanda Maciel were expected to take up the remaining podium places but delayed travel and fatigue ruined Nikki’s race and Fernanda had no power and strength after her extended time (45-days) at Aconcagua. This opened the doorway for Caroline Chaverot who ran a strong race, maybe a little too strong at times as she certainly went through some bad patches, ultimately though she crossed the line in 17:16:48 for a quality second place.

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Andrea Huser was all set for the third place on the podium but a revitalized Dong Li closed the gap, passed the Swiss runner and swept up third place; ’I enjoyed the altitude and I enjoyed the technical trails but this race was tough. It is the longest I have run both in time and distance.’

The men’s race had all the makings of a classic and boy-oh-boy it did not disappoint. The race had everything… broken femurs, dehydration, heat exhaustion, stomach issues and basic good old fatigue. At the line it was all about the ‘new’ guard and how, the best in the world had been beaten by supposedly unknown (unknown to those who don’t follow the sport) runners!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6082Sondre Amdahl after a great 2014 and second place at HK100 had relocated to Transgrancanaria so that he could train specifically for the 2015 edition. Looking strong before the race, it was no surprise that he took the front early and pushed hard… maybe too hard? Leading over the first 30km’s, Sondre was executing the perfect race and behind it was wide open.

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Yan Long Fei was certainly the surprise (for me anyway) runner in the early stages. I obviously don’t doubt the ability of the 2:14 marathon runner but from past experiences I felt that the technical terrain wouldn’t suit him. Not so! He has obviously been working hard and it showed. Running in second place over the most technical part of the course he finally cruised past Sondre to take the lead and it was looking like that Yan may follow up victory at HK100 with a back-to-back win with Transgrancanaria. It was not to be. Unfortunately as he pulled out at Garanon whilst still in first place. He was complaining of headaches: a sure sign of severe dehydration.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6040The door was open and pre race favourites Iker Karrera and Anton Krupicka were closing the gaps despite having their own issues. Anton had gone of course a couple of times and Iker was complaining of stomach issues… Iker’s problems persisted and eventually resulted with his withdrawal from the race when a podium place looked likely.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6165 Gediminas Grinius produced the race of his life. After biding his time in the early stages, he slowly moved up the field and then as Yan Long Fei withdrew, the front of the race was his. He covered the last 25km with great from and running into the finish he looked incredibly fresh. It was a breakthrough run that several of us had anticipated… me included! His time of 14:23:37 a new course record beating Ryan Sandes time from 2014. Post race, Gediminas said, ‘at the beginning I only wanted to improve on my 11th place of 2014 but step-by-step I gained positions and I felt really encouraged when I was second after Yan Long Fei. It was after the aid station El Garañón when I realized I could be among the winners because my legs felt great and I had no stomach issues.’

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747 Johan Lantz and Didrik Hermansen had prepared on Gran Canaria pre race with Amdahl. Amdahl had gone on the record to say that both could cause a stir within the race and he was right! Didrik and Johan had run the early stages together easing themselves into the race and ignoring the faster running at the front. Johan however had been struggling with back pain from early on, it didn’t stop him though and he eventually closed to third place behind Yan Long Fei and Sondre Amdahl. What followed is quite remarkable… without warning while running a section of road his femur broke! Yes, he broke his leg!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6137Didrik Hermansen like Johan was executing a perfectly paced race and after Cruz de Tejeda he moved into second place and he held on to this place to arguably create the biggest surprise of the race crossing the line in 14:30:07. Antoine Guillon from the ever-present WAA Team completed the podium ahead of the early race leader, Sondre Amdahl who had done extremely well to recover from his early efforts.

Anton Krupicka finally crossed the line in sixth place looking a little broken from his efforts. Certainly the heat of the day and the final 25km’s had pushed him to breaking point. On the line the effort showed, ‘It’s been a tough day but the heat really got to me. I was good for 100km but the final 25km was tough!’

The 2015 race has been called the toughest edition of the race because of the wind, cold temperatures during the night, the heat of the following day and the calima. However, I can’t help but think that the 2013 edition with torrential rain was harder? Certainly conditions and the combination of a tough 125km’s of trails took it’s toll; Nikki Kimball, Fernanda Maciel, Iker Karrera, Joe Grant, Pau Bortolo, Yeray Duran and so many more were forced to withdraw.

The 2015 edition will be remembered though for the rise of Gediminas Grinius, Didrik Hermansen and Sondre Amdahl. Lets not forget Dong Li and Yan Long Fei too. It’s a great time for lovers of trail, mountain and ultra running.

View race images HERE

The next race in the UTWT series is Marathon des Sables and I will be working on that race each day providing daily images and reports to keep you all up to date.

 

RESULTS:

  1. Nuria Picas 16:53:27
  2. Carole Chaverot 17:16:48
  3. Dong Li 18:15:55
  4. Andrea Huser 18:37:53
  5. Manu Vilaseca 18:42:59
  6. Ester Alves 19:11:45
  7. Lucinda Souza 19:25:46
  8. Aliza Lapierre 19:58:48
  9. Raquel Delgado 20:24:16
  10. Silvia Trigueros 20:38:18
  1. Gedminas Grinius 14:23:27
  2. Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07
  3. Antoine Guillon 14:39:35
  4. Sondre Amdahl 15:06:37
  5. Cyril Cointr 15:28:22
  6. Anton Krupicka 15:29:49
  7. Remi Queral 15:59:11
  8. Freddy Thevenin 16:07:06
  9. Marco Zanchi 16:25:13
  10. Piotr Hercog 16:30:45

The North Face Transgrancanaria 2015 – Race Day Images

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The 2015, The North Face Transgrancanaria was always going to be an exciting race… you only had to look at the line-up of elite athletes who had travelled from around the world to participate.

However, the script was thrown out of the window and series of surprises continued to unfold for the duration of the race, leaving us all to wonder, who would be crowned 2015 champions?

Nuria Picas (Buff) regained her 2014 title with a time of 16:53:27. Although Nuria didn’t lead the race from start to finish, once the Catalan took the reigns there was no holding her back.

Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius (inov-8) won in the male race in a time of 14:23:37. However,  was a race of many surprises and changing scenarios.

The race started in mild weather but as time passed, an ever increasing wind started to blow making conditions extremely difficult during the night. The breaking of a new day added sun and heat to the equation and this combination of elements caused a continual problem for nearly all the runners.

Ladies:

1 – Núria Picas 16:53:27
2 – Caroline Chaverot 17:16:48
3 – Dong Li 18:15:55

Men:

1 – Gediminas Grinius 14:23:27 new CR
2 – Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07
3 -Antoine Guillon 14:39:05

Notable withdrawals during tha race came from: Nikki Kimball, Yan Longfei, Iker Karrera, Pau Bartoló, Fernanda MacielJoe Grant and local hero, Yeray Durán.

A full results article will be posted on Sunday 8th March.

Race Day Images are below. Please respect the copyright of ©iancorless.com