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.

Caldera de Taburiente – La Palma

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An easy day should surely be followed with a longer day right? Good! Niandi and myself did follow the ‘Los Llanos‘ experience with a wonderful 7 hours on the trails of the LP13 in the National Park of the Caldera de Taburiente. What a day!

I had read about the PRLP13 being a super hard hike (Here) and how we could take a Taxi to Los Brecitos…. nonsense! If you are going to do it, then do it! That’s all part of the fun.

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We started the trail at 0900 in the valley and had decided on an anti-clockwise direction going through the Barranco de las Angustias ravine which is all about boulder and rock hopping, crossing the river multiple times and some scrambling. It’s mostly slow going and if you are not technically proficient you do need to take care. (NOTE: If you plan to do this you must check that no heavy rain has happened in the previous 24/48 hours or more importantly that any is due for your own excursion. The water level rises very quickly).

Niandi is not the best at this really technical stuff but she embraced it, smiled and bounced from rock to rock when she could. Hats off to her… she very rarely says ‘I can’t’. She takes a breath and gets on with it; respect!

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As we have grown to accept with La Palma the terrain changes constantly. Running through the ravine we would then climb and drop back down. Sometime we could run, others we would scramble. I loved it. It would make a great race route but only for the proficient… moving over this terrain at any speed requires real skill.

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Finally arriving at the end of the ravine a dam was in front of us. The water here changed colour to incredible oranges from iron discolouration. We moved to the left and moved onwards and upwards finally joining incredible single track. We had gone from rocky ravines to pine forests.

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The Roque de Idafe like some huge rock finger pointing to the sky in front of us. We now started to climb up and up. Although this was running terrain the gradient means sometimes you jog, sometimes you hike, No worries. All part of the fun.

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Niandi loved this section of the LP13. It was beautiful and inspirational. The sune had now moved up high into the sky and warmed our backs. We finally arrived at our turning point at the end of the valley. Here is a Tourist information centre and campsite. From here you can go on several different routes. Some are out and backs, others circular routes.

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We had a picnic lunch and then followed the signs to Los Brecitos. We now had the opportunity to pretty much run and power hike this whole section. Narrow single track made soft and bouncy by fallen pine needles… a carpet like feel under our feet. Niandi smiled and bounced her way down the trail. Such a contrast to the way out down the ravine. It is what makes running here in La Palma so special.

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From Los Brecitos we had a small section of road and then we dropped back down the trail to our start point in the valley.

You don’t measure these runs via distance. It means nothing. To be honest we are not even running much of the time. It’s about time on feet and experiences and today was one of those days on the trail that you don’t forget.

You can see a selection of images HERE

In the evening we went and had Cerveza, Pizza and then sat outside at Cafe Eden being entertained by a local band playing Dire Straits, The Rolling Stones and so on… we both could get used to this!

Fuencaliente – La Palma

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Day 4 of our La Palma, Transvulcania La Palma experience and today we started our run at the official start area of the race next to the sea on the southern most tip of the island with the Fuencaliente lighthouse in front of us.

Yesterday Niandi and myself did a 3 hour hike on some trails within walking reach of our apartment. To say our legs are a little beat up would be an underestimation. Niandi usually doesn’t get quad sore but she has found that running down hill on technical terrain for 2.5 hours really does batter your legs…. For me, my worry was my knees but I am pleased to say with taping and being careful I am really positive with the progress. Of course 16-18 weeks away from running also meant that my muscles were not quite ready for the beating I gave them. C’est la vie. I am on beautiful trails, the sun is out and it’s great to have one to one time with Niandi. If that means sore legs, so be it.

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From the light house you head up and up and continue to head up for almost 50k. This is what is so unique about the Transvulcania La Palma race. As I mentioned earlier, we are not able to do point to point runs as we have no means of collection so our runs are all out and backs. No bad thing. We get to see the trail both ways.

The contrast in the course is quite amazing. Today we stared in black, gritty, lava with rocks everywhere (the first 2 miles of the race are tough going) and then when you pass through the town of Los Canarios you are then running through forests for miles upon miles until you finally break through the clouds and run along Cumbre Vieja with a highest point of 1923m at Pico Nambroque and to the left you have the viewpoint of the Crater del Hoyo Negro.

Navigation is easy, follow the red/white paint flashes on the rocks or markers that say GR131.

We spent 6 hours on the trails and had an incredible day. You can see a full set of images HERE

But here are some highlights:

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