Gediminas Grinius – Transgrancanaria 2015

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Gediminas Grinius took a few people by surprise at the 2015 Transgrancanaria… not me I am pleased to say!

In my pre-race preview I went on to say:

 “Gediminas Grinius had a stunning 2014 with 3rd, 5th and 4th places at Lavaredo, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion. Three tough races! Based on these performances, Gediminas has all the potential to podium once again and should all things align, he may even win.”

Win he did and he set a new course record beating Ryan Sandes 2014 time and over a longer course.

This week on TALK ULTRA podcast (released Friday 20th March) we have a full and in-depth interview Gediminas and he has quite a story… in the meantime, read about his journey on the inov8 website:

HERE

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all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

The North Face Transgrancanaria 2015 – Race Summary

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Some times you just need to throw the script out of the window… Forget who may and who may not be race favourite and just let things play out like a piece of impromptu art. The 2015 Transgrancanaria certainly threw some curve balls! 

View race images HERE

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In the ladies race, it was business as usual for the 2014 champion, Nuria Picas. Biding her time in the early stages, Nuria took over the front of the race with approximately 90km to go and never really looked back. Running through the night the Catalan felt good but commented on how hard the trail was. As she ran to Roqué Nublio and to El Garañón she looked tired and weak. Post race Nuria went on to say, ‘I felt weak because of a lack of meal but luckily I could overcome it.’ And overcome it she did but it was no easy victory. With dawn came the heat of the day and a ‘calima’ that dried the throats of each and every runner. Crossing the line, Nuria saluted the crowd with another high quality victory and following on from a podium place at HK100, the stage looks set for another great year in the UTWT series.

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Nikki Kimball and Fernanda Maciel were expected to take up the remaining podium places but delayed travel and fatigue ruined Nikki’s race and Fernanda had no power and strength after her extended time (45-days) at Aconcagua. This opened the doorway for Caroline Chaverot who ran a strong race, maybe a little too strong at times as she certainly went through some bad patches, ultimately though she crossed the line in 17:16:48 for a quality second place.

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Andrea Huser was all set for the third place on the podium but a revitalized Dong Li closed the gap, passed the Swiss runner and swept up third place; ’I enjoyed the altitude and I enjoyed the technical trails but this race was tough. It is the longest I have run both in time and distance.’

The men’s race had all the makings of a classic and boy-oh-boy it did not disappoint. The race had everything… broken femurs, dehydration, heat exhaustion, stomach issues and basic good old fatigue. At the line it was all about the ‘new’ guard and how, the best in the world had been beaten by supposedly unknown (unknown to those who don’t follow the sport) runners!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6082Sondre Amdahl after a great 2014 and second place at HK100 had relocated to Transgrancanaria so that he could train specifically for the 2015 edition. Looking strong before the race, it was no surprise that he took the front early and pushed hard… maybe too hard? Leading over the first 30km’s, Sondre was executing the perfect race and behind it was wide open.

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Yan Long Fei was certainly the surprise (for me anyway) runner in the early stages. I obviously don’t doubt the ability of the 2:14 marathon runner but from past experiences I felt that the technical terrain wouldn’t suit him. Not so! He has obviously been working hard and it showed. Running in second place over the most technical part of the course he finally cruised past Sondre to take the lead and it was looking like that Yan may follow up victory at HK100 with a back-to-back win with Transgrancanaria. It was not to be. Unfortunately as he pulled out at Garanon whilst still in first place. He was complaining of headaches: a sure sign of severe dehydration.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6040The door was open and pre race favourites Iker Karrera and Anton Krupicka were closing the gaps despite having their own issues. Anton had gone of course a couple of times and Iker was complaining of stomach issues… Iker’s problems persisted and eventually resulted with his withdrawal from the race when a podium place looked likely.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6165 Gediminas Grinius produced the race of his life. After biding his time in the early stages, he slowly moved up the field and then as Yan Long Fei withdrew, the front of the race was his. He covered the last 25km with great from and running into the finish he looked incredibly fresh. It was a breakthrough run that several of us had anticipated… me included! His time of 14:23:37 a new course record beating Ryan Sandes time from 2014. Post race, Gediminas said, ‘at the beginning I only wanted to improve on my 11th place of 2014 but step-by-step I gained positions and I felt really encouraged when I was second after Yan Long Fei. It was after the aid station El Garañón when I realized I could be among the winners because my legs felt great and I had no stomach issues.’

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747 Johan Lantz and Didrik Hermansen had prepared on Gran Canaria pre race with Amdahl. Amdahl had gone on the record to say that both could cause a stir within the race and he was right! Didrik and Johan had run the early stages together easing themselves into the race and ignoring the faster running at the front. Johan however had been struggling with back pain from early on, it didn’t stop him though and he eventually closed to third place behind Yan Long Fei and Sondre Amdahl. What followed is quite remarkable… without warning while running a section of road his femur broke! Yes, he broke his leg!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6137Didrik Hermansen like Johan was executing a perfectly paced race and after Cruz de Tejeda he moved into second place and he held on to this place to arguably create the biggest surprise of the race crossing the line in 14:30:07. Antoine Guillon from the ever-present WAA Team completed the podium ahead of the early race leader, Sondre Amdahl who had done extremely well to recover from his early efforts.

Anton Krupicka finally crossed the line in sixth place looking a little broken from his efforts. Certainly the heat of the day and the final 25km’s had pushed him to breaking point. On the line the effort showed, ‘It’s been a tough day but the heat really got to me. I was good for 100km but the final 25km was tough!’

The 2015 race has been called the toughest edition of the race because of the wind, cold temperatures during the night, the heat of the following day and the calima. However, I can’t help but think that the 2013 edition with torrential rain was harder? Certainly conditions and the combination of a tough 125km’s of trails took it’s toll; Nikki Kimball, Fernanda Maciel, Iker Karrera, Joe Grant, Pau Bortolo, Yeray Duran and so many more were forced to withdraw.

The 2015 edition will be remembered though for the rise of Gediminas Grinius, Didrik Hermansen and Sondre Amdahl. Lets not forget Dong Li and Yan Long Fei too. It’s a great time for lovers of trail, mountain and ultra running.

View race images HERE

The next race in the UTWT series is Marathon des Sables and I will be working on that race each day providing daily images and reports to keep you all up to date.

 

RESULTS:

  1. Nuria Picas 16:53:27
  2. Carole Chaverot 17:16:48
  3. Dong Li 18:15:55
  4. Andrea Huser 18:37:53
  5. Manu Vilaseca 18:42:59
  6. Ester Alves 19:11:45
  7. Lucinda Souza 19:25:46
  8. Aliza Lapierre 19:58:48
  9. Raquel Delgado 20:24:16
  10. Silvia Trigueros 20:38:18
  1. Gedminas Grinius 14:23:27
  2. Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07
  3. Antoine Guillon 14:39:35
  4. Sondre Amdahl 15:06:37
  5. Cyril Cointr 15:28:22
  6. Anton Krupicka 15:29:49
  7. Remi Queral 15:59:11
  8. Freddy Thevenin 16:07:06
  9. Marco Zanchi 16:25:13
  10. Piotr Hercog 16:30:45

Tor des Geants 2013 – Race Preview

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Today is the day. The Tor des Geants begins and 757 brave souls will depart to tackle 330km’s in an individual way. Sounds funny doesn’t it, an individual way, but you see, the organization do not impose any compulsory stages. You start and it is the first to the finish. The runner who completes the race in the shortest time is the outright winner and therefore, this race is not only about putting one foot infront of the other, it is also about when you stop and for how long. It is a tactical race.

Map

The race is the first of its kind to cover an entire region. Taking place in the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Ayic Regional Park, the route takes in the spectacular paths at the foot of the highest ‘Four Thousanders’ in the Alps.

It is a unique race. It is survival!

Young American, Nickademus Hollon, the youngest ever runner ever to complete the infamous ‘Barkley’ has been specifically training in the area for months and just yesterday he said:

“Tomorrow I embark on probably one of my greatest ultra-running adventures to date. The Tor des Geants. 330km (205miles) and 24,000m (79,000ft) of elevation gain. I’ll be honest with you all, my minimum goal is 72hrs, that’s 4hrs beneath the previous years course record. To do this I’ll need my mind, body and spirit all aligned. Quite like the magic that possessed me during the fifth loop of the Barkley Marathons this year. I’ll be calling on that again shortly. I ask that you all be the wind at my back and help propel me forward : ) This will hopefully be a great leap forward for the United States in the Spain dominant European running world. Thank you all for your past and continued support!”

The Tor des Geants will start on the 8th September at 1000am and the imposed deadline of 1600 hrs September 14th is in place. A maximum allotted time of 150 hours.

Participants must have the following mandatory equipment:

◦       A backpack

◦       A supply of water (1 liter minimum)

◦       ACup

◦       Food supply/reserve

◦       Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries

◦       Survival blanket

◦       Whistle

◦       Adhesive elastic tape for making bandages or a strapping (mini 80cm x 3 cm)

◦       Water-proof gear for protection against bad weather conditions in the mountains

◦       Running trousers or leggings covering at least the knees

◦       Hat or bandana

◦       gloves

◦       phone

◦       altimeter

◦       warm clothing

The Route

The race starts and finishes in Courmayeur. The route takes place through the two High Aosta Valley roads. Participants, can choose their speed and must complete the race in less than 150 hours. Runners are partially independent and more than 40 supply points are available throughout the route

Measuring 330 km long with 24,000 vertical meters, the route takes the High Road No. 2 to the lower valley. The return is the Haute Route No. 1 to Valdigne and Courmayeur. It crosses in particular the natural park of Mont Avic National Park Gran Paradiso. During the race the runners will pass 25 passes at over 2000 meters, 30 lakes and reach a high point of 3300 meters.

Winning times from 2012:

Oscar Perez 75h 56m 31s

Francesca Canepa 85h 33m 56s

Who should you watch?

First things first. 330km is a long way and anything can happen. 757 runners are listed on the start sheet and of course I don’t know all of them or even pretend to. I have selected several people that I know and who do well over this type of terrain and distance. Without doubt I will miss several names, so, if you know a ‘one to watch’ let us know on the reply form below.

The Men

Last year’s winner, Oscar Perez is back and gets no1 billing. He knows the route, the course and knows how to manage the race, come out the other side and win.

Gregoire Millet, 2nd in 2012 is back and will be looking to go one place higher and top the podium. He was only three hours behind Oscar last year and I am sure he will have been looking at his stretgy and thinking, how can I make up three hours? Less sleep maybe…

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux is also back. Like Oscar, he knows the course like the back of his hand and he knows how to manage his effort. He placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 84:09:46 and 3rd in 2012 in 80:14:14.

Pablo Criado Toca at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Pablo Criado Toca placed 3rd in 2011 and returns this year. His time of 89:43:07 is a long way from Oscar’s 75:56:31 but as I keep saying, anything can happen and experience is paramount in a race like this.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is the big name joining the fold and as many of you will know, this Salomon athlete is meticulous in his planning. Iker however isn’t coming to this race fresh. He recently raced and won the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (160km and 10,000m+) in 24:54:56 which was just on the 24th August. For sure, great prep but that must leave you tired? Iker is one to watch and potentially win at Tor.

We have mentioned Nickademus Hollon, he hasn’t raced here before and he has been very open about the challenge ahead. However, he has been in the mountains for weeks and been all over the course. He knows what he is doing! Without doubt, Tor des Geants is as much about the brain as the legs and Nickademus is a master of this. He has proven it with a finish at Barkley. I think we will see Nickademus create a surprise in the Aosta valley.

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata won TDS last weekend and like Francesca Canepa, he attempts the double! It’s a tough ask, particularly when you look at the competition at the front. He’s a great guy and if anyone can pull something out of the bag, it is Arnau but he is going to feel his TDS efforts for sure.

Of course I have to mention Bruno Brunod. I don’t think Bruno will contest the win but a legend of Skyrunning deserves a tip of the hat. I wonder; what can he do…? I also wonder if we may well see Kilian Jornet pop up on route to offer some support and encouragement.

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, a surprise package may very will come from Brit, Stuart Air. Stuart placed in the top 20 at Ronda dels Cims and then Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will be pretty much unknown to all the others in the race but he has grit, determination and he comes to this race prepared. A surprise package for sure!

Other names to watch: Franco Collè, Mario Gazzola and Patrick Bohard.

The Ladies

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa pulled off the remarkable double in 2012. She placed 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at the shortened TNFUTMB and then just 7 days later, turned up at Tor des Geants and won in 85:33:56. Francesca has had a great year and her win at the tough Ronda dels Cims is surely a great sign for Tor. However, she dropped from last weeks TNFUTMB. Francesca is odds on favorite.

Patricia Penza placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 102:25:42 and placed 3rd last year in 97:06:15. It’s all about experience and being able to put one foot infront of the other. Patricia may not be the fastest but she can last the distance and time and sometimes that is all it can take to win!

Giuliana Arrigoni placed 3rd in 2011 and was just a minute slower that Patricia Penza. Pretty sure she will be back to move up the podium and be one place higher than Patricia in 2013.

Sonia Glarey is back after a strong 2nd place in 2012, her time of 96:59:54 was nearly twelve hours slower than Francesca, but if Francesca is not 100% we may see that gap close and a real battle unfold.

Nerea Martinez  ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez is also on the start list but I had heard rumours of injury. This has not ben confirmed. If she is in good shape and fresh I predict a podium place.

Australian, Samantha Gash is also on the start sheet. This will very much a departure for Samantha. However, she is used to long days and repetitive days on the trails. The Tor course though is something very different to what she has experienced in the past. It may well just be a big learning curve but she does have the grit to push, survive and make it to the front of the race. It’s an exciting prospect and one the Europeans won’t be expecting.

Other names to watch: Moses Lovstad, Giuliana Arrigoni, Cecile Bertin, Fedrica Bifana, Patrizia Cantore and Janet Ng.

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