Ultra Mirage© El Djerid #UMED 2018 Race Package

Join Marathon des Sables champions, Rachid El Morabity, Elisabet Barnes and the Ultra Mirage© El Djerid 2017 champion, Mohamed El Morabity for the ultimate 100km desert experience. Soft sand, rocks, small dunes, dried river beds, oasis and a multitude of soft-sand, Ultra Mirage© El Djerid is a single-stage race to test the minds and legs of runners who are looking for a new adventure.

The Ultra Mirage© El Djerid (UMED) is the first 100km Ultra Trail taking place in the stunning Tunisian Sahara Desert. A 20-hour time limit, five checkpoints, medical and technical help to ensure safety, the UMED is open to all runners. Importantly for the fleet of foot, prize money is available totaling 10.000 euros split equally between the male and female fields.

Rachid running at the 2017 MDS Peru which he won.

Tunisia and in particular the area of the Djerid was the background of famous movies including Star Wars and the English Patient just to name a few. The diversity and the beauty of the Djerid makes it a major attraction for tourists from all around the world. Tozeur is the main city of this area, it is very well known for its stunning surroundings with a mixture of Rocky Mountains, valleys, salt lakes and desert dunes and most of all for the generosity of its people.

Elisabet Barnes at the 2017 Marathon des Sables.

“Ultra Mirage© El Djerid 100K’s first edition was full of emotions! It was one of those moments where total strangers gather in a single event to release the best humanity has to offer: friendship, kindness, camaraderie, sport, courage, endurance, perseverance, love, compassion, respect, just to name a few, and all of that in the most amazing surrounding of the Sahara Desert! For 2018, we are looking to build on that outstanding success, organizing a race which will be bigger on all fronts, from the number of runners which should top 300, to a more diverse path and scenery! Hope to see you at the starting line on the 29th of September 2018!!” Amir Ben Gacem, Race Director.

The race will take place on September 29th 2018, and a special package price has been arranged for 350 euro:

  • Domestic flights from Tunis
  • Ground transport
  • 2 nights’ accommodation in a 4* hotel
  • Race entry
  • Race Shirt, cap, bag, medal and certificate

It’s an incredible package at a stunning price. Runners expected to fly into Tunis Carthage Airport (connected to all major European cities) at their own cost. Departure will be on Friday 28th September from Tunis to Tozeur international airport. Return on Sunday 30th September late afternoon.

Planning schedule:

Friday 28th September

16:00 Meeting at Tunis-Carthage Airport

17:30 Departure to Tozeur

18:40 Arrival at Tozeur-Nefta Airport

18:45 Transfer to Hotel

19:00 Check-in / Dinner / Race Briefing

 

Saturday 29th September

05:00 Breakfast opens

05:45 Departure to start line by bus

06:00 Last bus departs

06:30 Arrival at start line / Ultra Mirage village

07:00 Race starts

 

Shuttle buses will assure runners transfer from Ultra Mirage village to hotel every hour.

 

Sunday 30th September

03:00 Race finish

06:00 Breakfast opens

11:00 Closing ceremony

14:00 Transfer to Tozeur-Nefta Airport

16:00 Departure to Tunis

17:10 Arrival at Tunis-Carthage Airport

 

WIN A FREE PLACE

In conjunction with Amir Ben Gacem and Ultra Mirage© El Djerid we are offering readers of this website and listeners to Talk Ultra podcast the opportunity to win a 350-euro package place.

The winner will need to cover return costs to Tunis.

QUESTION:

Name the home planet of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie?

Race Information and entry

Race website HERE

Enter the race HERE

Facebook page HERE

TRAIL TALON 250 and TRAIL TALON 275 by inov-8 – SHOE REVIEW

©iancorless.com_inov8_TrailTalon250-06494

The Race Ultra when first released by inov-8 turned heads. It was certainly a departure for the brand who had built a history and reputation for out-and-out fell running shoes. For the brand to release a shoe that appealed specifically to the ‘ultra’ market was an interesting move.

I have to say, the first incarnation of the shoe was pleasing to look at and although it gained rave reviews, I didn’t like it. It felt sloppy, lacked feel and in all honesty, it was a shoe I didn’t want to use.

The second incarnation was a huge improvement and it has become a regular shoe for me when running long on flat, relatively un-technical and non-muddy trail. It was a shoe that proved hugely popular at races such as Marathon des Sables for example and the combination of two options, 4mm and 8mm drop; the Race Ultra suddenly became a really popular shoe.

I was therefore somewhat surprised when inov-8 told me that the Race Ultra 270 (4mm drop) and 290 (8mm drop) are no longer in the range as of AW16. Really?

I have had many emails from runners in the community expressing a concern about this. Yes, the Race Ultra really has become ‘that’ popular and as such, many are asking, but what shoe an I know going to wear?

Take a breath, take out your credit card and go and order yourself a pair of TRAIL TALON 275 (8mm drop) or TRAIL TALON 250 (4mm drop).

©iancorless.com_inov8_TrailTalon275-06476

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Yes, folks, stop worrying, the new TRAIL TALON is all that the Race Ultra was and so much more.

I could actually stop the review there as I have very little negatives to say about the shoes. Yes, both really are that good. But I know you have a need for more information so here goes.

In brief, the TRAIL TALON offering in either 275 or 250 versions directly relates to the 270 or 290 versions of the RACE ULTRA. So first off, think about if you need or prefer 4mm or 8mm drop shoes (or both). The plus side from the off, is the two new TRAIL TALONS are offering weight savings over the previous models: 15g +/- for the 8mm drop and 20g +/- for the 4mm drop. For reference, inov-8 always refers to the weight of the shoe in the name, so, a TRAIL TALON 250 will weight 250g+/- in a standard UK8.

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Both the TRAIL TALON 275 and 250 shoes use the same standard fit last as the RACE ULTRA but they both offer improved grip with deeper cleats and better cleat configuration. It’s a marginal improvement and don’t start to think that the new shoe will now handle more mud – they won’t. The TRAIL TALON is very much a dry trail/ mountain shoe that can handle a little sloppy stuff if required.

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Tthe TRAIL TALON has a wide ‘standard fit’ toe boxbut I don’t think it is as wide as the RACE ULTRA?. Don’t get me wrong, it has plenty of room and it allows the toes to move and splay just as in the previous model. When running long your toes have room to move and should you be prone to swelling, they have room to expand. This ‘standard fit’ is something that inov-8 have worked on and by contrast, some shoes in the inov-8 range can be purchased in ‘precision’ fit which offers a tighter and narrower toe box. For me, this can be where some compromise comes in with the TRAIL TALON, when running on long, flat and consistent terrain the shoes excel but if the terrain becomes technical and inconsistent, I find my foot moves a little within the shoe due to the wider fit. This is not a criticism of the shoe, what I am saying is (as I always say) is that it is rare that one shoe can do all things well. For technical running I prefer a precision fit.

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A notable difference is the new POWERFLOW midsole for a more cushioned ride. Both the 250 and 275 feel more cushioned. In particular, the 275 feels super cushioned, almost a little ‘too’ cushioned at times and I think this is where the most notable difference will come for RACE ULTRA fans. You will either prefer the additional cushioning or not. On my first runs in the 275 I noticed the cushioning over the RACE ULTRA. To confirm my thoughts, I went back out for a run in the RACE ULTRA and yes, the new shoe has more cushioning and it feels that way too. This only adds to the thoughts of inov-8 that the TRAIL TALON is a long distance shoe. Of course it’s all relative, the 4mm drop 250 has less cushioning than the 8mm drop 275. For many of you this will not be an issue as you will either run in 4mm or 8mm drop shoes. This is not the case for me, I often and regularly switch between 4mm and 8mm drop shoes. If I am running for 30mins, 60mins or even 2-3 hours I can happily run in 4mm drop and still retain good form. However, if I am going out for a long session or a day in the mountains, I will always go 8mm drop. The higher drop allows more leeway and flexibility and I must add that the TRAIL TALON is a superb shoe to walk in. This is really important for those who are running long or doing multi-day races. Often, shoes are tested just running with no consideration of how the shoe transitions to a change of gait when walking. For me, the TRAIL TALON 275 is one of the best run shoes I have used when walking, the transition is seamless and comfortable no doubt attributable to the ADAPTERFIT met-cradle for better mid-foot comfort.

I am always wary of buzz words like ‘Powerflow’ and ‘Adapterfit’ as in real terms they can mean nothing. Breaking the words down, the TRAIL TALON has more cushioning and better mid-foot comfort.

When running, the feel of the shoe and the comfort level is high. In the 275 I had less ‘feel’ for the ground due to the additional cushioning but this proved a real bonus for longer sessions and when the ground became more irregular. The 250 version with lower drop and less cushioning in comparison to the 8mm drop version felt really sweet on all runs.

Both shoes, 4mm or 8mm drop definitely provided more feel, better cushioning and more ‘return’ when running than the RACE ULTRA.

Like the 290 and 270 RACE ULTRA’s the TRAIL TALON will also incorporate the unique on-the-shoe gaiter attachment so that should you require a Gaiter you can purchase the item separately and attach/ de-attach with ease.

RACEULTRAGAITER

Two huge improvements for me come with the lacing system on the 275 and a gusseted tongue on both the 250 and 275. I have been saying this for ages, but a gusseted tongue just makes sense. I don’t know why it isn’t standard on all run shoes. It helps hold the foot in place, it stops the tongue moving and sliding to the left or right as you run and maybe most importantly it adds an additional protection to stop debris entering the shoe.

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The lacing on the TRAIL TALON is added ‘on to’ the shoe by what effectively is a folded plastic layer. This works so well as it allows the shoes to be laced tightly or loosely as required but it also allows the font to swell within the shoe. In the past, I have had issues with inov-8 lacing and I have had to use a ‘lock lacing’ technique to feel secure in the shoe. Not know, this lacing method works.

Toe protection on the shoe is good but not ridiculous. Keeping in mind the intended use of the shoe, it’s fit for purpose. The heel box is snug, cushioned, holds the foot well and caused no rubbing on long sessions, even when walking.

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Grip is compromised on any muddy trails but then again, the TRAIL TALON is not intended for this type of terrain. The 4mm deep studs work great on all dry trail, rocks and yes road. When wet, the grip is also good. Ultimately, the TRAIL TALON would be a great ‘all-rounder’ for most runs. If you are heading to the fells, a muddy trail run, or mountains with mixed/wet trail then choose a different shoe.

Finally, RACE ULTRA fans are going to be really happy with the TRAIL TALON. I have found it difficult to really find any negatives. The only negative (and it’s not really a negative) is that some of you may find the new incarnation a little ‘too’ cushioned. Sizing is true to size and relates directly to the Race Ultra.

As per usual, inov-8 have created two ‘visually’ appealing shoes with great colours and styling.

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Drop is personal and for me, 8mm drop is the sweet spot in run shoes and is my ‘go to’ drop for any run. If you prefer a lower drop, then you will be happy with the 250 and 4mm version. If you can afford two pairs of shoes, I really recommend the 250 for shorter and/ or faster runs.

This TRAIL TALON is a winner and is now one of three shoes that I choose on a daily basis, the other two shoes for comparison are The North Face Ultra Endurance and the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac.

Specs from inov-8

DFB

The patented Dynamic Fascia Band™ (DFB) mimics the ‘Windlass Effect’ delivering a kick of energy with each step, helping the athlete to move faster and more efficiently

STANDARD FIT 

Our standard fit offers a close-fitting heel that locks the shoe in position, while a wider toe box allows the toes to splay when running naturally or lifting weights. Standard fit suits those with wider feet and athletes using the product for long sessions.

ARROW 

Arrows refer to drop, 1 arrow = 4mm, 2 arrow – 8mm

Glen Coe Skyline™ – Skyrunning comes to Scotland

Glencoe-Skyline

Skyrunning will be coming to Scotland in 2015 with a world-class course based around Glen Coe. Aptly named the ‘Glen Coe Skyline™’ this race has already caused a storm of speculation as rumours of its launch swept through the mountain running community earlier this year.

The provisional route starts at the Glencoe Mountain Resort and, via the West Highland Way, reaches and ascends Buachaille. A full traverse of Bidean nam Bian ensues before dropping down into Glen Coe to then climb up to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. There is then an extended traverse of the entire Aonach Eagach ridge, before rejoining the West Highland Way and descending into Glen Coe Pass via the Devil’s Staircase and returning to Glencoe Mountain Resort. The provisional route statistics are approximately 45km with 4500m of ascent.

As many experienced hill walkers and climbers have pointed out, this route covers some of the most challenging mountain terrain in the UK with long sections of exposed and serious Moderate standard rock climbing. 

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Shane Ohly

Race Director Shane Ohly explained:

 “I am not trying to create another fell or trail race, but bring to the UK World class Skyrunning and a course that has World class challenges. It is not meant to be easy, and a course of this caliber has inherent risk. We are not creating another mass participation running event, rather, a world-class course for experienced and competent participants. The Glen Coe Skyline™ is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to negotiate the course.” 

Indeed, there has been a hotly debated forum thread about the Glen Coe Skyline™ on the popular UKClimbing / UKHillWalking website, and in response, Ohly has provided a detailed Q&A about the race, which is available HERE.

http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=7189

Leading British Skyrunners were quick to endorse the route with Tom Owens from the Salomon International Team saying,

 “Wow – This will be a seriously brilliant and challenging route,” whilst teammate Any Symonds said, “Excellent! Glen Coe Skyline. Couldn’t get much of a better setting and route for a Sky Race in the UK.”

Ohly continued, “The Glen Coe Skyline™ follows in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races and competing on such challenging and technical terrain is not without precedent.” 

For an event that has not even happened, the Glen Coe Skyline™ is already one the most talked about races on the UK calendar and it is clearly challenging many observers’ perceptions of what mountain running is.

Ian Corless from Skyrunning UK provided further context to the race, “The UK may lack high mountains but we have unique terrain and what we lack in altitude can be compensated for with challenging routes as we have seen at the V3K and the Mourne Skyline MTR. The Glen Coe Skyline™ however takes Skyrunning UK to the next level! Having experienced the iconic Trofeo Kimain Italy in 2012 and 2014, I was inspired to extend that experience to a UK and worldwide audience but on UK soil. Shane Ohly and his team have put my dream into reality. The Glen CoeSkyline™ will arguably be the toughest race in the UK and takes it inspiration from the Skyrunner World Series races such as the Dolomites, Zegama-Aizkorri and Tromso SkyRace’s®. The Glen Coe Skyline™ will not be for everyone though; it is a challenging race over a tough and technical course. It harks back to Marino Giacometti’s vision of Skyrunning that was created on the slopes of Monte Rosa in the late 80’s.” 

The organisers have been careful to consider the impact the race may have on other recreational users of Glen Coe and have been working with the National Trust for Scotland who are the major landowner.

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Gary Tompsett

Rebecca Amiel, Individual Giving Manager, from the National Trust for Scotland said “We are delighted to be involved in Scotland’s first skyrunning event at Glencoe.  We look forward to welcoming participants who may never have visited Glencoe to take in its beauty as they complete this challenging event. The National Trust for Scotland is Scotland’s largest conservation charity and relies on membership and donations to care for these wonderful places.  The magnificent landscape of Glencoe is loved by so many, yet cared for by so few which is why it’s so important to raise the profile of our conservation work. Find out more about the Footpath Fund and mountain conservation at www.footpathfund.org.uk

Ohly added, “Each year Ourea Events™ (the company organising the Glen Coe Skyline™) donates 1% of its total income to charitable environmental organisations at the forefront of the protection of the mountain environment. The business has been a member of 1% of the Planet since day one because, whilst we always seek to mitigate our environmental impact, we understand that we do still have some form of impact, but our policies over the years have given some very attributable payback”.

OureaEventsLogo(500x500-cropped) copy

Entries will open at 9pm on Monday 13th April 2015

 

For further Information about:

Ourea Events visit www.OureaEvents.com or contact Shane Ohly on 07771516962 or ShaneOhly@OureaEvents.com

Glen Coe Skyline visit www.GlenCoeSkyline.com

SkyrunningUK visit http://skyrunninguk.com or contact Ian Corless on 07725813457 or iancorless@mac.com

 

Key Event Information

Website: www.GlenCoeSkyline.com

Date: Saturday 22nd August 2015

Venue: Glencoe Mountain Resort, Scotland

Entries Open: Monday 13th April 2015

Courses: 45km with 4,500m ascent (TBC)

The North Face Single Track Hayasa

TNF Single Track Hayasa

Fresh out of the box, The North FaceSingle Track Hayasa‘. I am a real fan of TNF products, the ‘Flight Series‘ in particular offers a great range of products that transfer to so many disciplines. Light, functional, well fitting, breathable and ultimately great quality. It’s nice to remove them from the packaging, put them on knowing that they will do the job.

In regard to run shoes, The North Face I guess are still ‘newbies’ and in the past they have received mixed reviews about the footwear they have created. I have to say I had the original ‘Single Track’, you know, the really great looking shoe… black, red & white. Not only did it look good but it felt good.

The ‘Single Track Hayasa‘ is a shoe designed for speed. Greatly influenced by TNF athlete  Tsuyoshi Kaburaki from Japan, Hayasa actually means ‘Speed’ in Japenese.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

It is a shoe ready for racing and as such sits low to the ground with a 10mm heel to toe drop (8mm toe /18mm heel). Weighing in at just over 8 oz for such a lightweight shoe protection has not been compromised.

At the front of the shoe we have a puncture resistant toe cap and on the tip of the shoe, you do have additional rigidity. This will add some protection from kicking rocks etc. But in real terms and in comparison to other brands the toe bumper is relatively small. When we move to the rest of the upper, we can see that there is basically a lot of mesh. The shoe will drain really well and breathability will be excellent as you might expect.

TNF Single Track

Seams are extremely low in the upper and the TNF have used welded seams. The lace loops attach to an internal cage (see the silver/white). This fabric is on both sides of the shoe. When you lace up, it pulls on the fabric in and it wraps around your foot to create support.

The shoe when on with laces adjusted feels very snug and the tongue is gusseted and attached to the upper. It is very padded and in conjunction with a plush heel box the shoe is a pleasure to wear.

The toe box is wide and has plenty of room. Maybe too much room for some so it would be wise to check on sizing to ensure that you get the correct feel. I personally went a half size larger but I do wonder if I may well have been better going ‘true to size’.

TNF Hayasa

Starting just behind the toes and going to the back of the shoe is the ‘Snake Plate‘ (green). The snake plate is an alternative method to the standard ‘rock plate’ that you find in many trail shoes. Instead of one large plate, as the name suggests this one snakes in and out. The idea being increased flexibility. Ultimately, protection and flexibility combined that also means a saving in overall weight. The rear of the shoe has a ‘cradle‘. The cradle is created, like a bucket I guess for your foot to sit in. It provides stability and security. I have to say this is one key feature I initially like. Just walking around you immediately notice a firm hold.

Without doubt a neutral shoe with a 10mm drop. You have 8mm of foam at the front and 18mm at the rear of the shoe. In this ‘low drop’ and ‘minimalist’ environment 10mm may very well be snubbed by many but this shoe sits low to the ground and as such provides a very natural feel with protection and cushioning.

My initial concerns with this shoe are with the outsole. It has low profile lug which is ideal for road, hard pack trail and/ or rocky trail but in any mud they will be pretty much useless.  The front of the shoe has directional grip so when going uphill you have traction as and when required. In the heel the lugs are reverse facing which will add grip when going downhill (if required). The middle of the sole is void of grip.

Testing?

Well, that is to come.

I have been provided with these shoes to test in a Jungle environment so please keep an eye on my blog for an update in February. Until then I will be running on some road, hard trail and even some mud to see how the Hayasa perform before heading deep into a rainforest…

SPECS

Upper:

  • Lightweight, minimal upper construction
  • TPUwelded support overlays
  • Lightly protective toe cap
  • Perforated EVA Northotic™ footbed

Bottom:

  • TPU and EVA CRADLE™ heel-cushioning and stability technology
  • 18 mm/8 mm heel/forefoot heights
  • Dual-density, compression-molded EVA midsol
  • Blown rubber forefoot
  • High-abrasion rubber heel
  • TPU Snake Plate™ forefoot protection

Shoe Technologies:

NorthFit: The mission of NorthFit™ is to scientifically provide the outdoor athlete with the most precise fit between the human foot and a footwear last, as they both relate to the demands of the specific activity for which the shoe is worn

Snake Plate: The Snake Plate™ consists of a plate that winds back and forth in the forefoot, allowing the foot to flex in a natural manner while delivering protection and rigidity.

Northotic: Biomechanically engineered Northotic™: The North Face® has taken the conventional footbed and elevated it to a superior level with enhanced stability, support and cushioning.

Cradle: The North Face® CRADLE™ technology is engineered to naturally absorb impact, stabilise the foot and promote an anatomically correct stride by supporting the perimeter of the heel and ensuring the fatty tissues under the bursa are biomechanically positioned. CRADLE™ achieves the perfect balance of protection, control and comfort to inspire confidence for any foot on any terrain.

Tenacious Grip: Tenacious™ Grip is a high-abrasion, sticky rubber designed for maximum off-trail traction that will also withstand the rigors of rough off-trail surfaces.

X-Dome: X-Dome™ functions as a heel-cushioning and propulsion mechanism that propels the foot from heel-strike into the subsequent stride stages.

Transvulcania La Palma – A Guide

LA PALMA and the TRANSVULCANIA LA PALMA

Transvulcania Map

 

Mountains, volcanoes, beaches, forests, a tropical rainforest, tiny villages and breathtaking views. La Palma is the jewel in the ‘Canaries’ crown. Many consider it to be the most beautiful idyllic Canary Island, un-spoilt by tourism and ideal for rest, peace and quiet. It is a treasure for the walker, hiker or runner. Considering the islands size (50km x 25km) it has many surprisingly different areas of natural beauty. It has a perfect all year round climate, not too hot in the summer and pleasantly warm in the winter.

La Palma

La Palma lies 200km from the coast of Morocco and is approximately 3500km from the UK. Just north of the ‘Tropic of Cancer’. The island attracts many a stargazer and budding astronomer for the incredible display by the stars at night.

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Not dependent on tourism the island attracts a very different client to those you may find on Gran Canaria or Tenerife. You won’t find ‘English Pub’ or ‘English Food served here thank goodness. It is un-spoilt, traditional and a haven for those seeking a true Spanish feel. Natural beauty, dramatic vistas and 100’s of km’s of trails are available to explore via the marked ‘GR’ or ‘LP’ routes. Of course the famous GR route is the 131 that makes up the route for the Transvulcania La Palma… more on that later!

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How big is the island? Well, in a nutshell, not very big… at just 50km long and 25km wide. The population is only 86, 528 (dated 2008).

La Palma is dominated by the Caldera, the massive erosion crater often (incorrectly) thought of as a volcano, it has steep sloping sides both inside and out.

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The south-west part of the Caldera has collapsed and been eroded away leaving a ravine that runs deep right down to the sea at Tazacorte and the start point for the Transvulcania La Palma race.

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The southeast and north of the island has a coastline that drops steeply down to the sea making access to the coast very difficult. Many areas are only reachable by sea.

The central ridge (cumbre) makes up the central and southern parts that extend from the Caldera in the north to the southern point of the island and divides the island into two.

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Often called ‘La Isla Bonita’ it is a green island with many trees, including tree heather, the tall Canary Pine and cultivated citrus, avocado, chestnut, almond and banana trees at lower altitudes. Characterized by steep cliffs, volcanic rock, bays, black sand and cactus. Of course one thing you will see everywhere are many, many banana plantations.

A volcanic island, the last eruption was in 1971 at the Teneguía volcano.

The GR 131

 GR131

The GR 131 was created from the logical joining of two large mountain routes in La Palma: The Volcano Route and the route of The Crests of the Taburiente Crater.

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To make a logical route, the GR131 was extended at both ends to the sea. It is possible to start at sea level from the Fuencaliente lighthouse climb upward and upward to the Caldera Taburiente Crest. Run around the crest to Roque de Los Muchachos and then drop down and then descend to Tazacorte Port. In its origins, this path connected the localities furthest away from each other, as it climbed a radial path to the current GR131 and followed it to the radial downwards path to the destination. It has also been the main path for the herding of goats from the summit to the coast.

Route Description

In providing a route description of the GR131 I am looking at it from the eyes of a runner in relation to the Transvulcania La Palma. Please keep this mind if you are reading this from the perspective of a walker or hiker.

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Starting at the Fuencaliente Lighthouse at sea level the first section includes two key volcanoes, San Antonio and Teneguía. As mentioned previously, Teneguía last erupted in 1971. The first miles are tough going and most certainly on race day with some 1500+ runners a struggle. The path is often narrow with loose black sand or rocks. Patience will be required.

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From Los Canarios you enter the dense pine forests which offer a stark contrast to the opening miles. Underfoot terrain now mixes black lava sand, pine needles and rocks. Running is much easier than the opening miles and you will find an opportunity to stretch your legs.

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Climbing up the trees eventually start to subside and you emerge in the ‘Route of the Volcanoes’. This path crosses the southern ridge of the island, where most of the volcanoes are lined up (less than 200,000 years old). Among others, the following volcanoes can be seen from the path: Birigoyo Peak, Nambroque Peak, San Juan or Hoyo Negro Volcano (eruption in 1949), Duraznero Volcano, Las Deseadas, El Charco Mountain (active in 1712), Martín Volcano (eruption in 1646), Pelada Mountain, El Fuego Mountain and the Crater of Los Arreboles. It is an incredible route, sometimes very runnable, at other times hard work due to the increasing steepness of the path and loose deep lava sand.

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The final sections of the volcano route offer good fast running to El Pilar. In the Transvulcania La Palma this place offers an important marker. An important feed station and also the finish point for the shorter race provided by the race organizers.

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Leaving El Pilar, the race route (GR 131) heads north for the crest of La Cumbre Nueva using a forest trail that goes beyond the port of El Reventón (1350 m). Initially you will find this section providing some of the easiest running you will have had so far… the gradients are easier and underfoot one has less obstacles.

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Of course it soon comes to an end, the path climbs the successive and increasingly high peaks, running along the very edge of the Taburiente Crater.

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The Taburiente Crater rim is an incredible natural wonder offering technical running terrain, constant changes in elevation and some of the most incredible views you will ever see. Depending on the weather systems you will either have clear blue skies and the ability to look out into the distance for miles or a thick blanket like layer of cloud that will be below you literally making you feel they you are Skyrunning. Incredible. One thing that La Palma is famous for is the micro climate. You will almost certainly while running the race have several different types of weather, particularly if the cloud layer appears. You can be hot with the sun beating down on you and then a little chilly as you run through the cloud. It is what makes it so interesting.

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From the Rock of Los Muchachos (2436 m) the highest point of the course, the route drops down to the sea at the Port of Tazacorte. Beware! You may be thinking to yourself as you climb up and up for hours and hours that you have a wonderful long descent to the finish. You do but it is steep, technical and punishes your legs. Easy running sections are followed by tough, technical, rocky and gnarly terrain.

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Crossing a main road at El Time you then have a couple of very steep road sections before the final drop down the stunning (and technical) zig-zag path to Tazacorte Port.

No warm up, from Tazacorte you go up for 18k

No warm up, from Tazacorte you go up for 18k

The GR131 stops here but the Transvulcania La Plama organizers have a sting in the tail… the final miles take you back up to the town of Los Llanos De Aridane where a rapturous welcome awaits. Believe me, you will have earned it!

Training Information

The Transvulcania La Palma is an incredible race on a stunning course. At 83km’s it is a real challenge. Dakota Jones won the 2012 edition of the race in an incredible 6:59:07. Believe me that time is fast… very fast! Take a step back and in real terms look at adding a minimum of 3 hours to Dakota’s time and keep an eye on the cut-off times. Of course I am speaking in general terms here.

The terrain underfoot falls into one of these categories: black lava sand, rocky lava sand, hard rocky lava, pine forests, tough gnarly rocks and a very small section of road. The terrain eats the grip on your shoes and I therefore would recommend a trail shoe with cushioning and grip. For example; Salomon Speedcross, Salomon Slab Softground, Scott eRide Grip2, Sportiva Raptor or similar… you get the drift! You always have exceptions to rules and for example Kilian Jornet (3rd 2012) and Andy Symonds (2nd 2012) used the lightweight Salomon Sense for the 2012 race. In general terms though, the average runner will need grip and cushioning to the ease the harshness of the terrain.

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The ability to handle technical terrain while maintaining a good pace is essential. This will come extremely important on the flatter sections and the long descent from Roque de Los Muchachos. If you can’t make up time here than you are most definitely in for a long day out.

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From the start at the lighthouse and until you reach the highest point of the course at 2436m you are arguably always going up. It ultimately all comes down to economy of effort and having a strategy and or ability that will allow you to make the summit with enough left to get to the finish. What should you do?

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  • Run with a short stride looking ahead constantly
  • Practice walking fast, uphill with your hands on your knees
  • Incorporate some long day hikes on hilly terrain
  • Run/ hike on loose sand uphill for long periods of time (a quarry would be good)
  • Run on hard packed trail for your speedier/ faster workouts
  • Find some gnarly, rocky terrain and practice running on it. Build up a confidence to move over it as quickly as possible
  • Add some strength and core work to your training if this is a weak area for you

In many respects, the Transvulcania La Palma is like any other trail or mountain race but it does have a combination of elements that make this a very tough course. Respect it. Without doubt it is one of the most beautiful I have experienced.

Practical Information

La Palma is a small island. The race starts at the southern most tip and finishes almost half way up the island on the west. Therefore your hotel decision for the race may very well depend on many factors such as:

  • Are you with family?
  • Are you staying just for the race?
  • Do you plan to stay on?

If travelling with family you may very well be better basing yourself at Los Llanos de Aridane as this is a town with shops, cafes and other facilities or at Tazacorte Port.

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Tazacorte Port has a beach, restaurants and cafes. Of course this will mean as a participant you will need to arrange for transport and/or an overnight stop at the race start for the race day. Please note the race starts very early!

If travelling just for the race weekend I would seriously consider looking at the options provided by the race organization at www.transvulcania.com They will have accommodation and travel packages that will provide you with all that you need.

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If you plan to stay in La Palma after the race my recommendation would be to base yourself in or around Los Llanos and then use this as a start point from which you can then travel from.

Hire Car

A hire car is essential and they are very affordable. La Palma is serviced by all the main providers at the airport; Avis, Hertz and Europcar. Cicar is a local hire company available here. Book in advance for the best deal.

Flights

Flights to La Palma can be a little tricky. If in doubt, fly to Tenerife and then book one of the many connections that are available. Again, the race organizers are providing packages and practical information to facilitate this at www.transvulcania.com. Thomson have just started a direct flight from Manchester to La Palma.

Weather

La Palma boasts year round good weather. In May it will be hot but not excessive. Travel light and cool and always ensure that you have a warm layer and/or windproof just in case.

Los Llanos de Aridane

Los Llanos is the largest and busiest town on the west side of La Palma with a population of just over 20,000. There are many modern buildings. It has a traffic-free centre and the surrounding side streets still retain their old character. Plaza de Espana is the hub of the town and a good place to have a cup of coffee and watch the world go by.

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You can see images of Los Llanos here: https://iancorless.org/photography/los-llanos-la-palma/

Tazacorte

Tazacorte is situated on the west side of the island and claims to be the warmest place on the island. It is divided into 2 villages.

Puerto de Tazacorte is on the coast and has a long promenade, a fishing harbour, a black sand beach and an area with boulevard, bars and (fish) restaurants. Tazacorte pueblo (village) as about 1km above the coast and is the main center with the town hall, post office, shops and supermarket.

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Market day : https://iancorless.org/photography/la-palma-tazacorte-market-day/

Recce, blogs and Images

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In December 2012 I spent two weeks running, hiking, jogging, walking and crawling over the Transvulcania La Palma course. My blog posts are available on iancorless.org and my images are filed in a logical order, starting at the lighthouse at Fuencaliente, moving through the route of the volcanoes, El Pilar, Cumbre Vueva and then Tazacorte as days here:

Fuencalientehttps://iancorless.org/photography/la-palma-fuencaliente/

Route of the Volcanoeshttps://iancorless.org/photography/la-palma-the-route-of-the-volcanoes/

El Pilarhttps://iancorless.org/photography/la-palma-el-pilar/

Cumbre Nuevahttps://iancorless.org/photography/roque-de-los-muchachos-la-palma/

Tazacortehttps://iancorless.org/photography/la-palma-tazacorte-to-roque-de-los-muchachos/

Blog Posts:

 Conclusion

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La Palma has been a revelation. I have now had the opportunity to see the island and the Transvulcania la Palma from two perspectives. In May I followed the race as a journalist/ photographer and got to see one of the most competitive races of the year unfold before my eyes.

In December I returned for a holiday, to spend time on the trails in some warm winter sun.

The people, the places, the food, the hospitality and the multitude of trails make La Palma the most perfect location for the enthusiastic runner or hiker. I have focused this post on the GR131 and the Transvulcania La Palma but trails are everywhere. From my base in the Caldera de Taburiente just outside Los Llanos de Aridane I also discovered and explored so many other incredible trails such as this circular route:

December in La Palma offered great weather allowing me to escape the winter grey and gloom of the UK to run in shorts and T-shirts on some of the most incredible terrain with the most stunning views.

I should point out that I did only explore the southwest corner of the island. I have been told, repeatedly, by friends that the island has so much more to offer.

La Palma and its network of trail may very well become a regular slot in my calendar moving forward…

I would like to thank Lourdes Plasencia, Julio Carbera Rocha, Lauri Van Houten, Marino Giacometti, Transvulcania La Palma and Skyrunning for all the help and support.

Finally, many thanks to Niandi for making the trails so enjoyable.