The Canaries really are becoming a hub for great running. We have already had Transgrancanaria of Gran Canaria and most recently, Transvulcania La Palma on La Palma. This weekend it was the turn of Lanzarote and the Haria Extreme.
Haria is a small un-spoilt village on this beautiful volcanic island. Close to the iconic Mirador Del Rio it is jewel in the Lanzarote crown. White washed buildings are covered in beautiful flowers; doors and window shutters are pastel colored wood weathered by the winds that continually blow from Morocco. Apart from a weekly market and the occasional tourist bus that stops, allowing tourists an opportunity for a meal or souvenir shop; it does not see much action. That is until the Haria Extreme comes to town!
An influx of runners, supporters and of course race staff means that this sleepy Canaria town becomes a highlight for a weekend. What impresses me is the scale that races are put on… not just a few barriers, a make shift finish tape and a dodgy PA system; no! They go to town. They put on event that feels like a world championship. Inflatable gantries, posters all over the island, branded press cars and of course, a local population turns out to embrace the party.
Now in its third year, the race has gained a reputation as a tough race. A distance of just over 32km can often be snubbed by an ‘ultra’ audience but mark my words, this is no easy day out!
Three races are offered, each providing a challenge that allows it to become an inclusive event; a 10km, 22.5km and the main event, the Ruta Copa De Espana at 32.5km.
Haria Extreme Stats:
- Distancia: 32.5 km.
- Desnivel positivo: 1450 m.
- Desnivel negativo: 1450 m.
- Altura mínima: 5 m.
- Altura media: 240 m
- Altura máxima: 640 m.
It is a race that the Spanish and Canaria people have embraced. Participation outside Spain has been limited, however, that is due to change for 2014.
The Haria Extreme is part of the Spanish Cup and therefore offers points towards an overall classification. It therefore becomes a race to do… lining up for the 2013 edition the race had no other than man-of-the-moment, Luis Alberto Hernando who placed second behind Kilian Jornet at Transvulcania La Palma and then repeated the result at Zegama-Aizkorri. At Zegama, Luis was just twelve seconds behind Kilian.
Zaid Ait Malek also raced at Zegama and just missed the podium. Boosted by this great run he would also be expecting great things at Haria. David Lopez Castan, Yeray Duran, Carlos Garcia, Zigor Iturrieta and Ivan Ortiz would also add some spice to the front of the field.
The ladies race had two main front contenders, Nuria Dominguez and Maite Maiora. Maite in particular, also has just raced at Zegama-Aizkorri and like Zaid just missed the podium producing an outstanding run. Montse Martinez, Eva Moreda, Leire Agirrezabala Ezcurdia, Esther Fernandez and Fernanda Maciel amongst others would also race.
Departing from Haria at 0800 on the dot the early pace was pushed by Zaid Ait Malek for the men and Maite Maiora for the ladies
Starting at 300m and dropping to sea level, the first test would come at around the 8km mark when the runners entered Malpais de las Leguas, an area of technical volcanic lava and harsh shrubbery.
Zaid Ait Malek and Luis Alberto Hernando were neck and neck through this section, they matched each other’s steps and Zaid would occasionally jump showing his enthusiasm for the trail.
When the ladies arrived, Maite was still pushing the pace but just behind Nuria Dominguez, Eva Moreda, Leire Agirrezabala Ezcurdia and Fernanda Maciel followed. It was anybody’s race.
At 15km the runners were at sea level, Luis Alberto and Zaid confirmed a dominant stranglehold over the men but the ladies race was still wide open! Maite had a lead over Nuria but it would only take a mistake or a surge of energy for this to change.
At Mirador Del Rio, 21km in the race and an altitude of 450m, Luis Alberto Hernando had opened a gap. It was only one minute though over a comfortable looking Zaid Ait Malek. Dani Tristany was now in third and also looking strong but a stream of men pursued. It was most definitely going to be a fight for the line.
The ladies race had little change but ahead was a tough descent, Camino de los Gracioseros, at approximately 2km long it was a quad bursting and ankle-twisting nightmare of hardened volcanic razor blades. You wouldn’t want to fall here!
Luis Alberto now had the lead and although the gap was comfortable, it would not allow for any errors or mishaps. Climbing on the spectacular, Camino de los Pescadores, Luis had hands on knees as he powered hi way up the gradient. He occasionally would grab the rope in the middle of the trail to help pull him up the tough, steep and technical gradient. It was beautiful to watch as he moved from hike, jog and run in a seamless movement. In the distance we had a panoramic view of the trail, the sea and distant islands. Spectacular.
Zaid was close but not so close that he would offer Luis Alberto any problems. He climbed with a beaming smile… Zaid loved the difficulty that lay ahead of him. Third place was now Carlos Garcia, previous podium contender; Dani Tristany had gone off course and was now making up ground.
Nuria and Maite were now neck and neck matching each other’s blows. They didn’t use the rope available, both decided to keep low and almost crawl up the gradient. Behind, Eva Maria Moreda pulled on the rope like her life depended on it. Right arm and then left arm she moved each leg with each arm movement and forced herself to the summit.
The summit of Gallo at just over 540m now presented the most technical descent of the day. The men’s race remained unchanged with Luis Alberto Hernando arriving first in a new course record time of 02:34:17. Zaid Ait Malek arrived three minutes later in 02:37:16 and the final podium place was awarded to Carlos Garcia Exposito in 02:40:35.
Nuria Dominguez finally broke the hold of Maite Maiora but only just, she crossed the line in 03:06:21, just thirty four seconds clear. Eva Moreda Gabaldon arrived just one minute ten seconds later and in doing so completed a very competitive podium for the top three places.
Lanzarote offered a perfect and technical playground for all to enjoy; runner or spectator, The variety of views, terrain, sunshine and excellent crowned support and organization certainly makes this a race ‘to do’ for the future. Every time I cross a race of my bucket list, I replace it with another, however, in the case of Haria Extreme, I may need to promote it and move it up a few places to nearer the top.
VIEW A FULL SET OF RACE IMAGES HERE
- Haria Extreme HERE
- Images of Haria HERE
- Luis Alberto Hernando pre race images HERE
- Pre Race interview with Luis Alberto Hernando HERE
- Fernanda Maciel pre race images HERE
- Pre Race interview with Fernanda Maciel HERE