Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2018 Race Summary and Images

The second race of the 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked today on the island of La Palma (La Isla Bonita). The stunning Fuencaliente lighthouse once again providing an epic backdrop as 1000+ head-torches rushed north for a 74km journey  of tough and challenging terrain on the islands iconic GR131 route. It was a day of mixed temperatures and the Route of the Volcanoes was bathed in glorious sun as the runners broke through a cloud inversion before heading to the mist, grey and damp of El Pilar. Pushing onwards, the wind increased causing a challenging chill that resulted in many runners reaching for wind proofs. As often happens on La Palma, push through the cloud and a new weather system awaits, it was no different for the 2018 Transvulcania. Running around the Caldera to Roques de Los Muchachos, intense heat and blue skies greeted the runners all the way. Dropping back down to the sea and Tazacorte Puerto, the only thing that remained was the final challenging climb to the finish in Los Llanos.

For the ladies’ 2016 and 2017 champion and pre-race favorite Ida Nilsson lead the charge and she never really looked back. It was a strong performance.

As often happens, the chasing group can change as the brutality of the Transvulcania route takes its toll. Monica Comas from Spain placed 2nd just 6-minutes behind Ida.

The American contingent of Kelly Wolf and Brittany Peterson placed 3rd and 4th ahead of Russia’s Ekaterina Mityaeva, their times 8:49, 8:59 and 9:13 respectively.

The men’s race proved to be a real revelation… despite the early efforts of Cody Reed, he faded around the 20km mark and then all the main contenders and protagonists made their moves. It was a close race and the long descent to Tazacorte Puerto was always going to be decisive. Pere Aurell Bove held a lead over Dmitry Mityaev, Thibaud Garriver, Marco De Gasperi and Xavier Thevenard. For perspective, it is arguably one of the closest top-5 the race has experience, 7:37, 7:38, 7:42, 7:44 and 7:47 respectively. It is fair to say, that for Pere Aurelio, this is one of the biggest victories of his career and one that he will savour for a long time.

Image gallery available HERE

Route Summary:

Leaving Fuencalientie lighthouse, black sandy trails lead to Los Canarios. From here, the route weaves in and out of pine forests – underfoot the trails are good, at times technical but it is as the runners break the tree line that the challenging volcano sections await. The arrival of the sun provides some clarity and the push begins to El Pilar and notable marker in the race progression.

At least 5km of relatively flat and easy running follow El Pilar. It provides an opportunity for the ‘runners’ to stretch their legs and either extend or reclaim lost time. A left turn and suddenly they are climbing again, high trees with a canopy of green shelter the runners and then from El Reventon the true splendor of this mountain range is exposed with Roques de los Muchachos visible in the distance.

The harder sections of technical running around the Caldera, combined with heat and altitude provided the next challenge. From the high point, dropping 2400+m in 18km requires legs and nerves of steel. Believe me, it’s one hell of a ride. The early sections are open and the heat hits hard. Tree cover finally arrives and underfoot the single-track changes from dusty sand perpetuated with rocks to sand trail covered with a blanket of pine needles. In the latter stage pine needles giveaway to rocks and then the final zig-zag steep path to the port follows.

At Tazacorte Puerto, a short run along the beach, a technical run through a gulley and then a relentless claim all the way to the finish line in Los Llanos would decide the overall winner of the 2018 Transvulcania La Palma

Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2016 RACE IMAGES – Skyrunner® World Series

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Luis Alberto Hernando once again powered to glory for the third time in a row after running a very controlled and patient race. American Sage Canaday who finished third had lead the race all the way to Roques de los Muchachos, a desperate attempt to build a buffer before the long descent. Frenchman Nicolas Martin, had been in the lead pack throughout the day and with Hernando, overtook Canaday on the downhill from the 2,423 island summit, to finish second.

Ida Nilsson, from Sweden, ran an incredible race from the gun and her victory never looked in doubt, that is until the long downhill… At the highest point of the race at 2,423m Ida was leading by 30-minutes, unused to downhill running, her lead was reduced by Anne-Lise Rousset from France who placed second, and skyrunning newcomer, Ruth Croft from New Zealand, placed an excellent third less than a minute later.

Results

Men

  1. Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP) – 7h04’44”
  2. Nicolas Martin (FRA) – 7h10’40”
  3. Sage Canaday (USA) – 7h14’16”
  4. Andy Symonds (GBR) – 7h25’04”
  5. Chris Vargo (USA) – 7h26’53”

Women

  1. Ida Nilsson (SWE) – 8h14’18”
  2. Anne-Lise Rousset (FRA) – 8h31’53”
  3. Ruth Croft (NZL) – 8h33’32”
  4. Alicia Shay (USA) – 8h49’46”
  5. Hillary Allen (USA) – 8h54’57”

READ THE RACE REPORT HERE

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA

SkyMan SA  is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

The well-established, SkyUltra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Seriespresented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

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Roques de los Muchachos, La Palma – Transvulcania Ultramarathon

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The island of La Palma has always ticked many boxes for me, it’s a quiet island that lacks tourism, it has incredible all-year round weather and of course it hosts the Transvulcania Ultramarthon.

I’ve been coming here since 2012; it never disappoints. This year I’m here to find some quiet time to write content for my book, Running Beyond. But I am also here for a long overdue holiday, to spend time with Niandi (who gets neglected with all my travel) but also to get back to some regular time on the trails.

Notice I said, ‘time on the trails’ and not running. To be honest, I’ll take the running if the body will allow, it’s not important though, I just need the head space and the isolation the trails out here bring.

We have no plans other than to work and get objectives done each day and then spend the rest of time doing what makes us happy. Yesterday, I was up early and decided I wanted to be finished with work by midday. My plan was to head up into the mountains and run/ walk/ hike around the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente. In the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, this is often referred to as Roques de los Muchachos but actually Roques is the end of the section where the observatories are located and then the long 18km drop and descent to Tazacorte Port.

It’s an incredible place and one of the key sections of the Transvulcania Ultramarthon due to its elevation of 2400+m and the stunning views it provides to the east and the west. In the east one can see the islands of TenerifeEl Hierro and La Gomera and they are visible in the photos. The terrain here varies greatly from technical rocky sections of jagged and irregular rock to sandy and dusty trail. Although the trail goes up and down, in real terms most of the climbing is done by the time you reach Pico de la Nieve at 2232m.

Niandi and myself accessed the GR131 (Transvulcania route) at Pico de la Nieve as a trail, the PR LP 3 comes in from the main access road (LP4).

From the road it’s a 20-30min hike in to the GR131 and then it’s possible to follow the Transvulcania route on an out-and-back to Roques de Los Muchachos (approx 10km, 20km round trip).

Needless to say it’s a stunning section of trail and I have to say, one of my favourites in the world. Key sections are Pico de la Cruz, Piedra a Llana, Marro Negro, Pico de la Cruz and Fuente Nueva before arriving at Roques de los Muchachos.

If you are a runner, hiker, walker or basically someone just looking for an inspirational day on trail with stunning views, I can’t recommend this enough.

Yesterday for me was one of those special days; from early afternoon, through to sunset and then finishing off in the dark with just a headlight, the moon, the stars and Niandi for company.

Niandi and myself didn’t worry about pace, time, or anything for the that matter. We just moved, stopped, took photographs and soaked in a magical place.

So magical, I wanted to share the journey in images.

Getting your head in the right place!

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Getting your head in the right place is something that we all need to do. I am in La Palma, the home of Transvulcania Ultramarathon. It’s a place that I have been coming back to since 2012. It holds a special place for me, especially at this time of year.

The days are a little longer, the weather is perfect and the island is beautiful.

I’m writing a book called, Running Beyond which will be published late in 2016. In real terms it is a photography book with words. However, after a year on the road I realised the only way I was going to get the words written was by getting myself, or should I say my head in the right place.

The plan is to get back to some regular time on the trails and split my days 50/ 50.

I’ve been here since Friday, so only 4-days but I can already feel it working.

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The writing process is taking place and I seem to be slowly but surely making my way through the list of things I need to do. Plus Niandi and myself have had some time to relax, taking in sights at local towns and we have been on the trails; hiking, jogging and at times, running!

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On day 1 we went to Los Llanos, the finish of the Transvulcania race. Its a beautiful place of cobbled streets and pastel coloured buildings. In the late afternoon we went up and down the VK route from Tazacorte Port; always a favourite. We timed it just right as the sun was setting as we made the final descent.

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The following day, Sunday,  we visited a local market at Argual. It is a place I have visited many times before but the people and some of the sights are always interesting. We followed this with a run from El Pilar, taking in an out-and-back route through the Volcano route. It was a little cloudy and windy along the tops but it is always stunning. Back at our car we had the best Tuna Bocadillo ever; the simple things huh?

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Monday I did a 90-minute run alone. It was the end of a long day of writing and I needed an outlet and a release. Run? it was actually a hike up and a run down. Nothing special but it helps get my head in the right place. I even took a selfie!

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Last night, (this morning) – I walked the streets of Santa Cruz from 3am with Niandi and Divino San Francisco, a group of singers who move from house-to-house and sing traditional Christmas songs. My good friend Angel, is one of the singers and it was he who told me about this. For 9-days (not always at 3am I must add) in the lead up to Christmas they sing every night to represent the 9-months of pregnancy.

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It was something quite special! Quiet lonely streets with just string instruments and stunning voices to welcome in a new day. It was so special; it made me realise why I was here, to get my head in the right place.

Despite a night of no sleep, today I can feel the positive vibes from a stunning night. It’s a night that Niandi and myself won’t forget. Families opened their doors to us in the early hours, they welcomed a large group of musicians in and then proceeded to feed them and provide drinks, it made me realise what this time of year is about.

We all need to get our heads in the right place. Make sure you make it a priority to find your place, I guarantee 2016 will be better because of it.

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Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2015 – Race Summary and Images

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No matter which way you look at it, no matter how you write it, the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon was the Luis Alberto Hernando and Emelie Forsberg show.

Kicking of the 2015 Skyrunner World Series, Transvulcania was always going to be a great race and showdown that started the ISF ball rolling.

The dynamic duo of Luis Alberto and Emelie were beyond impressive and as such have provided a great impetus for the 2015 series.

Emelie Forsberg fresh off skis (and a win at Mezzalama) lead the race from the front and slowly but surely extended a lead that extended to over 30-minutes by the time the finish line arrived in Los Llanos. ‘It was so hot out there,’ Emelie said, ‘I am fresh off skis and cold temperatures and to run in this intense heat was so hard but I am extremely happy. It’s a dream come true to win this race again.’

Luis Alberto by contrast played a waiting game in the early stage. A feisty Zach Miller went off the front trying to fulfill a pre race promise that he would win the race. But Luis kept in contact and at Pico De La Nieves he made his move opening a gap of just a couple of seconds. As the kilometers passed, the Spaniard produced a master class of mountain running and when he turned the after burners on, there was no stopping him. As he entered the final kilometers he knew the course record was a possibility and he pushed and pushed providing all those watching a skin tingling and inspiring finish to snatch the course record by a couple of minutes. ‘I took it easy; I let the others dictate and then just pulled away. I felt good the whole way and it’s just incredible to win here again. I had no problems.’

It was a day of shocks though. The men’s field was super stacked and many of those we expected to contend the podium either did not start or faded and/ or pulled out. Miguel Heras did not start, Ryan Sandes dropped early saying he had no energy and Timothy Olson, Mike Foote and so many more just had a tough day on La Isla Bonita; the beautiful island.

Dani Garcia Gomez took a surprise 2nd place and Australian sensation, Blake Hose took the final podium place showing a distinct promise of an exciting future. ‘I am more than happy,’ said Blake, ‘I was taking it easy and went through some rough patches but so did everyone else by the sounds of it. To get the podium here in this quality of field is incredible, now some short races!’

Dakota Jones sprinted for 4th ahead of a charging Zach Miller and although he improved on his 2014 performance, it was easy to see that Dakota was a little perplexed by his run. However, he was very philosophical post race.

Landie Grayling was potentially going to provide Emelie with some competition after her win at Buffalo Stampeed (in Australia) but like her South African teammate, Ryan Sandes, Landie said she had no energy. Everest Trail Race winner Anna Comet Pascua started down the field and moved her way through to 2nd on the podium, albeit 30-minutes behind Emelie. Myriam Marie Guillot Boisset placed 3rd just under 2-minutes ahead of American, Alicia Shay. Magdalena Laczak rounded out the top five.

Transvulcania with the help and inspiration of the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) in just 4-years has become one of the most iconic and prestigious ultra marathons in the world. The 2015 edition has secured this reputation. It’s not just running; it’s an island coming together to create a beautiful harmony that celebrates running. With arguably one of the most impressive and logical (sea-summit-sea) courses, the race is a pleasure to behold. I for one am booking a place for the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon; I suggest you do too!

Check out Skyrunning HERE

RESULTS

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg 8:32:59
  2. Anna Comet Pascua 9:02:57
  3. Myriam Marie Guillot Boisset 9:15:06
  4. Alicia Shay 9:17:49
  5. Magdalena Laczak 9:23:45

 

Men:

  1. Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga 6:52:39 – NEW CR
  2. Dani Garcia Gomez 7:21:28
  3. Blake Hose 7:25:23
  4. Dakota Jones 7:28:59
  5. Zach Miller 7:29:00

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Transvulcania La Palma 2015 #VK Vertical Kilometer

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It’s Transvulcania time and an exciting weekend of racing kicked off with the vertical kilometre in the early evening of Thursday 7th May.

Departing from the beach in Tazacorte under glorious sunshine, runners had to tackle the zig-zag pathways above the sea and then run on upwards for a tough 6.6km re-tracing the final descent of Saturday’s 73km main event.

The race was dominated by Alice Gaggi in 59:48 for the ladies and Jessed Hernandez Gispert won the men’s race in 50:38.

Emelie Forsberg refreshed her ski legs placing 3rd as a loosen up for Saturday’s main event as did Manuel Merillas (2nd in the men’s race) both runners are hot favourites for the Transvulcania La Palma.

Anna Frost, although still battling injury issues, placed 4th overall and smiled her way to the finish.

RESULTS

Ladies

  1. Alice Gaggi 00:59:48
  2. Azara Garcia 1:01:39
  3. Emelie Forsberg 1:02:24
  4. Anna Frost 1:02:42
  5. Stephanie Jiminez 1:03:23

Men

  1. Jessed Hernandez Gispert 00:50:38
  2. Manuel Merillas 00:51:04
  3. James Oucgterlony 00:52:12
  4. Oscar Casal Mir 00:52:15
  5. Diego Manuel Camacho De La Ossa 00:56:29

Transvulcania La Palma – Catch up videos

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Dreamteam Television have worked on Transvulcania La Palma for the last 3-years producing some great quality films allowing us to experience, one again… this iconic race on the island of La Palma.

The 2014 edition of the race won by Luis Alberto Hernando and Anna Frost will be screened on British TV on CH4 – 15th June at 06:40 and +1 TV.

If you missed out on 2013 and 2013 films, here is an opportunity to watch them.

Dreamteam Television archive all recordings so that you are able to watch past editions of many races HERE

Future broadcast dates are available HERE

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Fun on the trails in La Palma

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A real perk of what I do is having a few hours, a morning or even a day or two that will allow me some time for myself, to get out on the trails and explore a place or even a race route before or after an event.

To go to La Palma and not run would be sacrilege. I have run on trails and mountains all over the world, I wouldn’t be as bold or as confident to say that La Palma has the best but without doubt they are some of the best!

Looking at the Transvulcania La Palma route, the course makes so much sense; you start at the sea, you run up… up… up and up and then you drop back down like a bullet. It is pure Skyrunning, from sea, to summit to sea.

Combine this route with an ever-changing trail, spectacular views, spectacular cloud and incredible weather and you have a match made in heaven.

This year I extended my Transvulcania visit by a day, okay, maybe two and sneaked out for a couple of runs (hikes) to clear my mind, open my lungs and allow myself to feel alive again.

I love to follow races working hard as a photographer, writer and podcaster, but I also love to run… it’s not always easy to fit the latter in but I should! I should always find some time, some time to connect and find my own peace, my own karma and my own air.

This was even more important this year. It seems a haze; maybe it hasn’t even registered yet but just 1-hour after the start of the 2014 Transvulcania started, I was driving along the coastal road to my ‘spot’, a location I had found the previous day where I would take photos and I lost control of my car. I wasn’t going fast and no, despite a 3am start, I hadn’t fallen asleep at the wheel… the car twitched left, I turned right to compensate and before I knew it the car was exploding into a huge concrete block that stopped me going down a cliff.

Air backs everywhere, car in pieces, windscreen smashed, car broken, NO, wrecked and I walked away unharmed… Just a slightly sore nose from the impact of the driver’s air bag left me a memento for what had happened.

I was alive…

I think it’s actually taken till today, almost 1-week later for me to realize how lucky I was.

My work isn’t going to change, I love every hour, every minute, every second but I will, every now and again, stop… look around and find some time to get out on a trail and feel the karma and thank my lucky stars that I have an opportunity to carry on.

Thanks Nico and Val for helping me to escape on the trails of La Palma. It was needed, really needed.

Here are some images from the fun.

The Rise of Stephan Hugenschmidt

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Transvulcania La Palma, the inaugural Skyrunning event of the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series. It was always going to be a stacked field, so stacked that predicting a winner required an element of guesswork, faith, hope and some good old ultra thinking. It was no surprise to see Kilian Jornet duke it out with Luis Alberto Hernando and true to form, as in 2013, Sage Canaday repeated his 3rd place on the podium. However, who could have predicted the rise of Stephan Hugenschmidt?

Stephan should have been on my radar after his 8th place at the 2013 Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks, however, he slipped through. In retrospect it was a huge mistake! His Transvulcania 2014 performance has elevated him to a new level and he is now on the ‘one-to-watch’ list. No longer will he slip through the radar…

Stephan’s 2013 results

  • March – Trail du Petit Ballon : 3rd
  • July – Salomon 4-Trails : 2nd
  • July – Swiss Alpine Marathon : 3rd
  • August – Matterhorn Ultraks : 8th
  • September – Sardona Ultra Trail : 2nd
  • October – Ultra Trail del L’Argo Orta : 1st

Post Transvulcania, friend of Ta;lk Ultra and iancorless.com, Hendrik Auf’mkolk interviewed Stephan and kindly shared for all our benefit.

Dancing on a Volcano by ©Hendrik Auf’mkolk

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At Transvulcania this past weekend, Stephan Hugenschmidt ran to the top of the trail running world with a sensational 5th place showing. For insiders, this does not come as much of a surprise, however. The 27-year old German who lives and works in Switzerland already made his mark on the scene last year with top results at Swissalpine (3rd), Matterhorn-Ultraks (8th) and Sardona-Ultratrail (1st), among others. Salomon Germany picked him up for the 2014 season and during the team’s spring training camp he impressed his team mates with sparkling form. In the following interview, Stephan tells us how he got into the sport, why Transvulcania is only a snapshot, and what is next.

Stephan, congratulations on your fantastic race at Transvulcania! You definitely won’t be flying under the radar anymore in the future. Has it sunken in yet ?

Well, the response after Transvulcania was huge and I’m really happy for all the congratulations. But things will calm down in a few days. What remains are all the unforgettable impressions of the race and its unique landscape. But the cards will be reshuffled for the next race and then it does not really matter how I did at Transvulcania.

You ran a very constant, clever pace. How did you feel out there on the course? How did you witness the race play out?

As I always do in ultras I tried to listen to my body and find my rhythm. I did not let myself be deterred by the usual early speed of the other runners. And then there were all those spectacular views , the completely different terrain and the crazy spectators – things like that really motivate and help me get through the lows. The fact that I was able to consistently pass some of the international top stars, that surely inspired me as well…

As you said, the terrain and the climate on La Palma are very different from anything here in continental Europe. How did you prepare for the race?

By training in foul mid-european weather (laughs). The one-week training camp in Croatia in April with the Salomon Germany team definitely helped. But not in terms of heat-resistance. While we were there the cold and uncomfortable Bora winds were sweeping across Croatia.

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You already turned heads with a string of top results last year. How did you get into the sport? What fascinates you about trailrunning?

I would say I am a very passionate runner and I love being in the mountains. As a child I only spent a few weekends a year in the mountains – mostly with my dad. He passed his passion for running and the mountains on to me. Every now and then I would toe the line for a classic mountain run, but I never really felt comfortable with these all-out mountain sprints. Too short and somehow incomplete… I want to run in the mountains and over the mountains, not just up a mountain. I know trail running does not necessarily have to be in the mountains, but for me the two belong together.

What draws me to the sport is being out there running through the most beautiful landscapes. That’s so much better than running through the street canyons of a big city, isn’t it? Also, I am fascinated by the fact that besides a strong physical condition, you need a good technique.

How does your typical training week look like?

Most of my training happens on the weekends. I live in Uzwil, where it’s hilly, but not enough so for serious mountain running. So on the weekends I make the one-hour drive to the mountains as often as possible, mostly to the St. Gallen Rheintal region. That’s an ideal starting point, because you start very low (ca. 450 m above sea level) and can easily do 1.500 m of vertical at a stretch. My training runs in the mountains are between 30 and 45 km and normally contain more than 2.000 m of vertical gain.

During the week my training is rather unspectactular. I run my usual loops around Uzwil, which are between 10 and 15 k. They don’t contain any considerable climbs though.

Do you have a favorite workout or training ground?

My favorite place to train is in the mountains around the Pizol and the sorrounding Sardona region. The landscape there is simply fantastic!

What are your goals for this season? Where will you be racing next?

My next race will be Zugspitz Ultratrail at the end of June. My first 100k… I am also going to do Swissalpine K78 and Ultratrail del Lago d’Orta. If I remain injury-free, there will probably be more races added to the list, but nothing is fixed yet. Some day, I want to do the Transalpine-Run and, of course, UTMB.

Stephan, thanks for the interview and best of luck to you!

Thank you!

Originally published in German HERE