Livigno SkyMarthon 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Skyrunner® World Series

Livigno SkyMarathon 2017 Race Summary

Days in the mountains rarely get better… the Livigno SkyMarathon really did provide a truly spectacular mountain experience that will be difficult to better – the weather, the course and the stunning town of Livigno all came together along with great organization to give everyone a memorable day.

The race really is a personification of pure Skyrunning. Over the 34km course, the runners climbed over 2700m of vertical gain with much of the race taking place between 2500 and 3000m.

Exposed mountain ridges, roped sections, via ferrata and abundance of technical terrain make the Livigno SkyMarathon a challenge – but a challenge to embrace.

Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri which took place in May, this race was always going to be exciting with valuable Migu Skyrunner World Series points available.

SWS World Champion Tadei Pivk, has had a troubled 2017 with injury, however, he was a last-minute entrant to the Livigno race having missed Zegama-Aizkorri. Pivk was the winner of Livigno in 2017 so he was soon tipped as a favourite for the win. Equally, Zegama-Aizkorri winner Maite Maiora, was tipped as the potential winner for the ladies’ race.

The duo started the race with a determination and a commitment and took the respective leads from very early on. Maiora looked invincible throughout the race, Pivk also looked strong and in control but Aritz Egea was tailing the Italian for much of the race.

At the line Pivk and Maiora were triumphant.

Egea pushed the 2017 champion close and on the line, it was just 2-minutes that separated them, 3:52:42 to 3:54:39. Third placed runner was Eduard Hernandez Texeido ahead of Eugeni Gil Ocana and Robert Krupicka, their times 4:00:39, 4:02:00 and 4:05:24 respectively.

Maiora was in a different league in the ladies’ race, her time of 4:37:30 incredible on this course. Denise Ionela Dragomir ran a strong 2nd throughout the race and her podium place never looked in doubt, she crossed the line in 4:43:21 ahead of Laia Andreu Trias who finished in 4:47:16.

The 2017 edition of the Livigno SkyMarathon was different to 2017 and therefore the times recorded this year are course records. Conditions were exceptional throughout the day with clear blue skies, sun, little to no wind and temperatures were kind until the early afternoon when they started to rise.

The talk post-race was all about how incredible the course is. The opening flat miles providing a warm up before the first climb with no technicality. What follows are walls of rock with chains attached, scree slopes of rock and slate, narrow and exposed technical ridges that really place you in the sky. The high point of the course at 3000m in many respects brings an end to the very technical sections and then the course changes over the second half with plenty of single-track and of course climbing. The final drop from Monte Campaccio at 3007m is long with plenty of rocks and scree. The final 10km’s to the line sap the legs and mind – a Livigno finish is hard fought.

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series now moves to Greece for the Olympus SkyMarathon which will take place on the weekend of June 24th.

All images ©iancorless.com

Full image galleries will be available at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Scenic Trail 113k Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series 2017

Scenic by name and scenic by nature, the longest race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series took place yesterday amongst the majestic mountains of Switzerland. Amongst an awe-inspiring backdrop, views throughout the 113km route stretch far and wide – the Alps, Lake Maggiore, the Appennines and the Po Valley.

Starting at midnight, the early hours of the race were under complete darkness, however, clear skies and full moon provided a spectacular ambience that added to the still and mild temperatures.

A 500m climb kicks off the race to Goal Di Lago and then after just 14km or so, a relentless climb, with little rest follows to Capanna Monte Tamaro at 31.6km. 

The arrival of dawn welcomed the runners and then the long push through the day starts – a shark tooth profile clearly showing how the 7400m of vertical gain will challenge the runners. 

The high-point of the race came at Gazzirola 2116m (81km) and one could say it’s all downhill from here. The reality is far from the truth, the course continually goes up and down all the way to the finish line at 415m alt.

An allocated 32-hours to complete the race sounded generous, however, as the race unfolded, it would soon become clear to finish, let alone within the cut-off, would be a challenge.

The race was predicted to have a hot day, and yes, it was! Temperatures reached over 30deg in a relatively cloud free sky. It was clear from the start that German Stephan Hugenschmidt was going to be the one to beat. He opened a gap immediately after the midnight start, it would have been a lonely night but Matthias Dippacher was matching step-by-step.

 Czech Marek Causidis pursued the duo and with just over a marathon covered, was trailing by 4-minutes as they climbed to Cuccheto at 1571m.

Benoit Guyot and Gael Droz followed together and then Gabriele Sborina just 1-minute later, the front runners all just spread over 30-minutes.

Lead lady and pre-race favourite Francesca Canepa, had lead the race from the start and had spent a lonely night. She arrived just outside the top-10 overall at the marathon mark with a 15-minute lead over 2nd lady Christiana Follador, also from Italy.

Helene Ogi had Follador in sight and Follador knew it, she repeatedly turned to check on the German runner. But Ogli was already looking tired under the strain of the relentless climbing.

Spain’s Laia Diez was in 4th but the strongest looking lady (besides Canepa) was Russian Yulia Baykova who caused a little confusion as she displayed a race number from one of the shorter races.

Over the following kilometers there was little change in the men’s race, with Hugenschmidt and Dippachern controlling the race, the only real point of note was the extent their lead. At the summit of Monte Boglia (with just over 10km to go) they had a 20-minute lead over Causidis and 30-minutes over Guyot who was now running alone in 4th pursued by Droz who was another 9-minutes back. 

Canepa arrived at this marker over 2-hours after the lead men but her lead was strong. However, it was all change behind with Follador, Ogli and Diez all crumbling under the pressure of Baykova who had moved up into 2nd and looked strong.

 Follador, Ogli and Diez had succumbed to the course and local favourite Denise Zimmermann filled the gap followed by Giuliana Arrigoni from Italy.

The finish line finally came 15-hours and 40-minutes after the start for Hugenschmidt and Dippacher – they crossed the line together, joint victors of a super tough race. Causidis held for 3rd, Guyot 4th and Droz 5th, their times 16:08:53, 16:20:04 and 16:27:35 respectively.

Canepa was first lady in 19:12:18 – yes, the race is that tough! Baykova placed a great 2nd in 19:43:05 and then Zimmermann, Arrigoni and Patricia Besomi placed 3rd, 4th and 5th in 20:46:48, 22:38:56 and 23:03:10.

Full image gallery available to view at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 – Day 4

Mann on fire… reeling after navigational errors, giving away a ridiculous amount of time and losing his first place, today Jim Mann left camp at 0730 with just one purpose, ‘make them chase and make them chase hard!’

Mann set off at a ridiculous pace and despite a day of sun and high temperatures (25-degrees) he pushed and pushed breaking splits for his 2015 winning time. On the rolling terrain he rarely walked, constantly switching from running to fast, hands-on-knees hiking. He crossed the line for the 71km’s in 7:03:26. The question was, what would Marcus Scotney do?

The rolling terrain suited Scotney today allowing him to use his running prowess to stretch his legs and hopefully protect his lead on Mann in second. At all times he looked relaxed and focused. However, after the midway point, it was becoming clear that Mann, really was on fire. Scotney pushed to the line and crossed in 7:21:26.

Mann had almost done the impossible in clawing back his first place… wow!

Scotney’s 31:46:28 to Mann’s 31:54:34 now means that the last day of the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back Race is going to be epic!

Or should I say, IT WAS going to be epic.

Post race, it transpired that Mann once again made a navigation error – he missed a ‘mandatory’ route.

The ‘officials’ have checked the route Mann took and have compared times and splits in comparison to race leader Scotney. It transpires that this section and route was actually slower than the mandatory route and that no advantage was gained. However, the officials have issued Mann with a ‘strike’ – he now has two! Should he get a strike on the last day he will be disqualified from the race. The whole situation was discussed with Scotney and no time penalty will be given.

Scotney however has gained a knee injury in stage 4 and it now looks unlikely he will be able to race the fifth day of the race, he has said he would like a ‘Dragon’ and should he start the last day it will be to complete!

Drama in Wales!

For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee had a tough day battling heat and dehydration and crossed the line in 9:51:25. Whereas Carol Morgan had a game changing day crossing the line in 9:14:18 – this eradicated much of the time gap Verjee had built up over the first three days, moved her up into 2nd place and leaves her just minutes from a potential 2017 victory.

Adding to the ladies mix is Caroline McIlroy who crossed the line in 9:24:09. She has spent much of the week in second place and now she is in third after Morgan’s impressive run. With just fifteen minutes between the top three ladies, the last day is going to be a tough one!

Verjee will start at 0800 on the last day and then Morgan and McIlroy will start with the time differences to first – the first lady of these three on the day 5 finish line will be the 2017 champion!

On a final note, 133 people started day 4 of the race – a 50% drop out rate.

  1. Marcus Scotney 31:46:28
  2. Jim Mann 31:54:34
  3. Neil Talbott 34:23:29

 

  1. Sabrina Verjee 40:37:38
  2. Carol Morgan 40:44:31
  3. Caroline McIlroy 40:52:53

Results HERE

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 – Day 2

A calm morning and thick clag shrouded the runners as they departed Nantgwynant between 0600 and 0900 this morning – slower runners starting early and fast runners starting later.

At Cnicht (the first summit of the day) the weather started to clear around 1000 and then blue skies and glorious sunshine stayed with the runners throughout the day – on higher ground whips of cloud came in but it was a glorious day in Wales.

Descending and climbing from Cnicht, Moelyn Mawr was the next control and Jim Mann was slowly but surely reeling all the competitors in, having started last – the fox, he was chasing the rabbits.

Crossing the A496 road, Sabrina Verjee and Mann were taking a grip of the race, following on their day 1 performances with a confirmation they are in great shape.

Marcus Scotney, Neil Talbot and Jez Bragg were putting up a battle but Mann was just on fire. At the final summit, Diffwys, Mann descended like it was the beginning of the day, he ran fast and smooth and at the finish line he set the fastest time of the day – elapsed 15:20:25. However, Scotney who had started earlier was the first to cross the line, his elapsed time16:30:29. Neil Talbot 16:46:40 is holding off Jez Bragg in 4th.

For the ladies, Carol Morgan and Caroline McIlroy put up a battle to Verjee and this resulted in McIlroy gaining time on Morgan, 20:21:52 to 20:22:27. The battle for 2nd lady is now very close with just 35-seconds between them – Verjee by contrast extended her lead, her elapsed time 19:45:08.

Results HERE

Image galleries will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com post race

YADING SKYRUN 2017 RACE IMAGES and SUMMARY – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

Skyrunners Get High In China

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked-off this weekend in China with Yading Skyrun – a 29km ‘SKY CLASSIC’ event that set a new benchmark in high altitude sport.

Yes, Skyrunner’s got high in China with a personification of racing in the sky – 4700m to be exact!

Staring in the centre of Yading’s Shangri-La the race started at 0700 with a gradual downhill to ease the legs and mind into a gruelling day amongst some of the finest trails, mountain and sky that China has to offer. After 3.5km, the race will hit the lowest point – 2860m! To place this in perspective, most races in Europe ‘top-out’ at 2800m! From here, the only way was up – passing a small village, the race route hugs a single-track that weaves through the mountains and reaches the race summit at 4700m. Buddhist prayer flags make an iconic and memorable end to hours of climbing and what follows is a fast descent all the way back to Chonggu Temple and the finish line.

Yading is blessed with immense natural beauty, including the three sacred peaks (Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje) which loom over the National Park at an altitude of over 6,000m. From the 5th Dalai Lama through Joseph Rock this area has been a source of spiritual inspiration.

Featuring 22 races in 11 countries, the Yading Skyrun was a great start for the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series. The pure ethos of racing in the sky was personified by this season opener. Skyrunning was grounded as a high-altitude sport in the early 90’s and now, some 25+ years later, Skyrunning reaches new heights – 4700m to be exact!

Yading, located in China’s Sichuan province provided a perfect arena for modern day running gladiators to battle amongst the incredible landscape and high-altitude that this area has to offer.

Megan Kimmel approaching the 4700m summit of the race.

The ladies race was all about 2016 Yading champion Megan Kimmel. She returned to China from her home in the USA and showed the competition a clean pair of heals in what was a strong and stand out performance that will most definitely have the completion looking at the calendar ahead and wondering how do we beat this outstanding performer.

“I loved China last-year when I raced here. The team at China Mountain Trails are incredible and the races they offer are unique. I live at altitude but here I get to race really high. Don’t underestimate the difficulty that this brings. I am very happy to kick-off my Skyrunning year with this victory.”

Ragna Debats finished 3rd in 2016 and this year moved up one place finishing 2nd ahead of Katrine Villumsen – their times 4:06:42 and 4:13:21 to Kimmel’s impressive 3:33:55.

Andy Wacker, here leading the race eventually finished 2nd.

The men’s race was somewhat of a nail-biter and nobody could have predicted that Bhim Gurung would repeat his 2016 victory. USA based Andy Wacker (who placed 3rd in the previous day’s VK) lead the race at a relentless pace. At one point, he had opened up a large gap on the chasers – Pascal Egli, Duo Ji and Bhim Gurung. However, at the highest point of the race at 4700m and with just over 5km’s to go – Gurung unleashed a relentless downhill that reeled in all the competition. Skyrunning may very well be about the uphill, but as so many races have shown, (the Dolomites SkyRace a great example) what goes up must come down and Gurung was without equal in China. He crossed the line in a new course record  3:06:51. Wacker held on for 2nd in 3:08:23 and Ji edged out Egli for 3rd in 3:08:49.

Unlike many races in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series Yading was very unique due to the the high-altitude. It was noticeable amongst the elite athletes as they fought against oxygen debt. Lower down the field though, runners battled the conditions to achieve their own personal goals. China offered a very unique and awe-inspiring start to 2017 and for sure, China holds a bright future for new events with China Mountain Trails and Migu Run.

Attention now turns to the now iconic island of La Palma and the Transvulcania Ultramarathon which has become a flagship of the ‘SWS’ ever since the iconic 2012 edition – Less Cloud, More Sky! Follow the action from May 11th through to May 14th.

Also take place over the weekend in China:

The Yading VK started on May 1st starting at noon. Covering a distance of 7km the race had an elevation gain of 1072m – starting at 3992m and concluding at 5000m, a first for Skyrunning! Read the race report and view the images HERE.

Yading Kora Ultra winner, 敏 祁

The Yading Kora Ultra started alongside the Yading Skyrun and extended its race loop from the Chonggu Temple to take in the Kora pilgrimage route over 46km. The latter stages of the race were the final 5km’s of the ‘classic’ race from the 4700m summit all the way down the single-track  to the finish line at 3992m. With over 2,300m of elevation gain over the length of the course, and the finish line sitting at just over 4,000m, the race challenges beginners and elites alike. The race was fast and furious with Salomon Running International athlete Ida Nilsson taking an incredible victory in 6:05:02 and placing 6th overall. 妍星 马 placed 2nd in 7:52:30 and  Yasuko Nomura 3rd in 9:22:07. The men’s race was won by 2:16 marathon runner, 敏 祁 in 5:19:28. Francois d’Haene placed 2nd and 晶 梁 3rd, 5:28:07 and 5:48:13 respectively.

Yading Kora Ultra ladies winner, Ida Nilsson.

******

About the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

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.

Yading is the highest race of the circuit reaching 4,664m altitude. The Yading Skyrun will be organised by China Mountain Trails (CMT), a subsidiary of Migu Run, entrusted with spearheading the trail and mountain running events.

FIZKULTURA, Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more!

Inspiration comes in many forms and ways. I have just been to Sofia, Bulgaria for Fizkultura – a one day event put together by Begach Running Club. The event is geared towards inspiring Bulgarian runners to embrace new challenges, it may be just to start running, or maybe move from marathon to ultra-running, or why not try something bold and new like creating their own running challenge.

My participation was facilitated by the Begach Running Club and the British Embassy – I was joined by ‘the beard!’ The crazy, inspiring and distinctive looking adventurer, Sean Conway

Arriving in the early hours of Friday morning, Sean and myself were working right from the off with a breakfast at the Embassy and an improvised individual presentation – good job this ‘on-the-spot’ request didn’t phase us… some years back, I’d have immediately melted into a ball of nerves; not now!

Sofia is without a doubt Eastern European in feel and architecture. There are bold, brazen and striking monuments everywhere to remind us that Russia is not far away. But I was surprised. The centre had a distinct feeling of wealth with a multitude of high-end shops, plenty of bars and a huge selection of hotels. A backdrop of impressive snow-capped mountains made me feel relaxed.

A drive to the mountains and a leisurely lunch (in an incredible restaurant) provided us all with an opportunity to bond. It’s here that I had a little more time to get to know Sean and extend my introduction to Irina Daniela from Romania who is slowly but surely inspiring Romanians to run and notably empowering women to siege their futures by foot power. Irina recently ran a sub 3h for the marathon and in doing so has shown what is possible for the women of Romania. She’s a striking person – tall (too tall for Sean and myself), great figure, long dark hair and striking features. It’s easy to see how she will inspire those around her. She’s a bundle of energy and enthusiasm but Fizkultra is her first big ‘gig’ out of her homeland. Website here.

Sean by contrast looks like a lion under a mane of ginger. He’s a small and a slight figure who brims with confidence and an accent that’s hard to work out – South African, Irish and British public school make an interesting mix that is captivating to the ear. He casually talks of his up and coming challenge of cycling ridiculous daily distances in Australia to set a new world record. He has a simple motto – to be the first or the fastest – it works for him! His list of achievements is impressive, but more on that later. Website here.

It was early evening before I finally met Dean Karnazes. Dean, aka ‘Marathon Man’ is someone who I have emailed and spoke too on many times but this is my first face-to-face. He taps me on the shoulder. I turn, he grabs my hand and pulls me in close in a tight embrace and says, ‘Ian, finally, good to see you man!’ For once I feel tall, Dean is my height and we are both taller than Sean and if Irina had not been in our presence, for once I may well have been the tallest – just! However, Dean looks incredible – he’s ripped, chiseled, has a Californian tan and he’s swearing shorts. His legs bulge with muscles and I suddenly realize that the reality of meeting Dean didn’t disappoint. This guy, for me, helped change the way the sport of ultra has grown in the last 10-years. It was his book, Confessions of an all Night Runner’ that suddenly made ‘others’ aware of the crazy sport of running long; ultra-running! Website here.

Dinner took place in ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and we joke, discuss love, life, running and politics. Bed soon arrives for Dean, he has no idea what day or time it is. Jet lag has hit hard and he leaves early. Our trio relax with our hosts and a late-night walk back to our hotel is followed with a night-cap in the bar. I felt at home with my two new friends and like all good new friendships, 12-hours have made them both feel like lifelong friends. We laughed the night away till bed finally called.

FIZKULTURA

Dean kicked off the day 0945. Short clad, the audience welcome him with rapturous applause and he quickly goes into a 30-minute presentation that gives an overview of his running. Of course, it’s an impossible task – he has achieved so much! Despite the launch of his recent book, ‘The Road to Sparta,’ Dean takes us back on a journey to his first book as Fizkultura coincides with its release in Bulgarian. Many of you will know those early stories of taking the shoes out of the garage on his 30th birthday and then running 30-miles. His first Western States, Badwater 135 and running a marathon at the South Pole. It’s classic ‘Dean’ and the audience lap it up.

Irina power dresses and looks like an air hostess wearing a suit, shirt, scarf and ridiculous high-heels. Sean and myself refuse to stand close to her… The style of dress was important, Irina’s background was in banking and she wanted to show everyone that it has been possible to still be a business professional and a runner. “My Story’ was about dreaming, having no limits and empowering herself, other women and yes, men, to wear run shoes and find out what is possible. The story of how she achieved sub-3, one of the fastest female performances for a Romanian and how her dreams may well lead to Olympic selection.

Antoniya Grigorova, Bulgaria’s top female ultra-runner, talked about her plans, planning and training in preparation for running the longest trail in Bulgaria: Kom-Emine. A journey of 600km. A professional athlete she provided an insight into the mind, the training and the nutrition of what the journey will take.

Lunch was followed with the lion roaring. Sean was in fine form and told the story of his world’s longest triathlon with great skill and humor. He was a natural on the stage and it’s fair to say the audience loved him. His presentation was interspersed with still images and small videos that documented the journey – and what a journey! A bent bamboo bike, a Sunday roast dinner blended into liquid form for lunch, skinny dipping in an icy river and his face being stung constantly by jelly fish while swimming.

I followed Sean and what an act to follow. My talk was always going to be a visual one as I planned on taking that audience around the world with a selection of races and images from Running Beyond (here). Of course, I had to provide some context on my journey and my opening dialogue provided a glimpse on how I got to where I am today.

Boyan Petrov is a legend in Bulgaria. An Alpinist, he talked us through the training, the planning and the equipment required to climb 8000+m peaks without oxygen. He’s one of the few climbers to make 3 x 8000m peak in one year, something he has done twice. He also discussed the dream of climbing all 8000+m peaks – more people have been to space than done this!

The day concluded with Dimitrina Sivkova talking about trauma prevention and getting back in shape.

It was an incredible day of challenges, feats, adventure, goals, inspiration and living a life with barriers or restrictions. The takeaway was, ‘make dreams happen!’ Dean concluded his talk with a famous quote, it’s not new but it’s apt and it somehow summed up exactly what Fizkultura was trying to achieve:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop and two events, a 12-hour and 6-hour race called Project 360. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and a qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any participation plans for me but I went and cheered on with Irina for an hour and of course, we just had to run a loop with ‘Marathon Man!’

Watch Dean in the video HERE

I love the fact that despite jet-lag, bust days of presenting and travel, Dean rocked up to the start line and run for 6-hours. He personifies his name.

I must say, I was sad to leave Sofia, my new friends and a great, developing running community. Dean, Sean, Irina and myself were there to inspire others but we left inspired. We were each individually energized by our time in Bulgaria. Sean will be bashing out the bike miles for Australia, Irina will be looking for the speed and endurance for a fast marathon, Dean? well, Dean will just keep running and running and me; travel, photography and telling stories. I love to do that and the story of Fizkultura and Bulgaria is a special one – a personal one!

Thanks to:

A huge thanks to the British Embassy, Elenko Elenkov, Begach Running Club and the many new Bulgarian runners who hosted, entertained and looked after us – Alexander, Milen, Vladi and so many more.

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Transgrancanaria 2017 Race Summary and Images

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The island of Gran Canaria once again hosted the Transgrancanaria series of races. Over the years, the races have grown not only in stature and entries but also in quantity. In total, there are now seven races and this year the addition of the TRANS 360 (265km) really has elevated the race portfolio so that TRANSGRANCANARIA now contrasts and compares directly to the UTMB series of races.

Starting with a FAMILY race (17km) you then have PROMO (17km), STARTER (30km), MARATHON (42km), ADVANCED (82km), the TRANS 360 and then the main event of the weekend, TRANSGRANCANARIA at 125km and 8000m of vertical gain.

Over the year’s, TRANSGRANCANARIA has had the world best come to this Canary island and do battle. Ryan Sandes, Sebsatien Chaigneau, Nuria Picas and Caroline Chaverot are amongst the winners and the 2017 edition, like previous years, had a high quality field.

Notably, the 2017 edition is also earlier in the year, in the past, the race has been in March. This is significant, the 125km race is tough at anytime of the year but coming so early means that the end of one season and the beginning of the next becomes increasingly cloudy. If you want to do well here, it’s fair to say that the previous year’s season needs to end in September or October to allow for recovery and then building training once again to be ready in February.

Caroline Chaverot and Didrick Hermansen were 2016 returning champions and without doubt they were pre-race favourites. Didrick most definitely would have a fight on his hands with the final result going anyway. By contrast, Caroline after an incredible 2016 season was almost guaranteed a victory. But this is ultra-running and things don’t always go the way you expect.

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Click on an image to view the gallery

From the off, Pau Capell and Azara Garcia dictated the race from the front and by the time they reached Artenara (approx 30km), the duo had a convincing lead in their respective races. Many had predicted pre-race that 2017 was Pau’s year, however, Azara was stepping up to the 125km distance – she normally races hilly, technical mountain races of marathon distance, so, stepping up to 125km and 8000m of vert was going to be a challenge.

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Click on an image to view the gallery

 

The Spanish duo most certainly had some highs and lows on an incredible journey to the line but they didn’t falter. Pau looked to be a man on a mission throughout the race and although he went through a bad patch in the last 20km, he rallied and then continued to pull away to take one of the biggest victories of his life.

Azara battled and battled and from Roque Nublio looked tired and maybe a little bit broken. Somehow she managed to find the mental strength to beat and will her body to the line. She finished with a convincing lead over 2nd lady Andrea Huser, but Azara was an empty shell on the line. She was broken and the emotion of the biggest win of her career seemed all too much as she sat lost in her exhaustion. Eventually she was stretchered away to recover.

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Behind two amazing performances were the highs and lows of the ultra world. In the ladies’ race we saw Caroline Chaverot drop from the race at Artenara lacking energy with tired legs. We saw Andrea Huser produce an ever-consistent and well placed performance to place 2nd and gain another high-ranking podium place and Melanie Rousset from France rallied to finish 3rd ahead of Kirstin Berglund. Full ladies’ results HERE.

The men’s race was a cracker, however, everyone was running in the wake of Pau Capell who produced a dominating world-class performance. Vlaidas Zlabys from Lithuania was the revelationn of the race and a name to note for the future. Right from the beginning he was in the mix and he produced a strong, consistent and well paced performance to finish 2nd 14:35 minutes behind Pau. In the final 20km he had closed that gap down to 10-minutes but Pau surged. Didrick Hermansen ran much of the race off the podium but he knows his strength. In the last 3rd of the race he closed hard and moved up through the race to finally finish on the podium in 3rd – a great result!

Behind the top-3 is a story of trials and tribulations, pre-race favourites of Andy Symonds, Diego Pazos and Timothy Olson all finished in the top-10 but it was stories of niggles, sickness, fatigue and fighting a cold and challenging night. Full men’s results HERE.

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