The 2018 Transgrancanaria HG started as planned at 2300 hours from a new start in Las Palmas. In the 24-hours before the race, it had been touch and go if the race would have a delayed start due to storms that were rolling in to the island. For example, the marathon was postponed from Friday to a Saturday start.
In the hours before the start, rain storms moved through the island bringing with it strong winds and torrential rain. However, in Las Palmas it was all calm… was it the calm before another storm?
Live music, thousands of people and on the stroke of 11pm, the runners departed along the beach for one of the toughest races in the world – 125km with over 7000m of vertical gain. As the name suggests, the route is ‘Transgrancanaria’ starting n the north-east and passing all the way down the spine of the island to conclude in the south at Maspalomas. Key moments come at Arucas, Teror, Fontanales, Presa de los Perez, Artenara, Tejeda, Garanon, Tunte, Ayagaures, Parque Sur and finally the finish line in Maspalomas.
The ladies’ race was dominated by Polish runner Magda Laczak who pushed from the front right from the start. She opened a gap early on and pulled away as the miles past to finally finish 40-minutes ahead of the ever present and indestructible Andrea Huser, their times 15:18:37 and 15:58:11. Third placed lady was Ekaterina Mityaeva who is new to the UTWT ranks but over the past years has gained a strong reputation in the Skyrunner Works Series. Her form was good to close strongly and pass Fernanda Maciel for the final podium place. Fernanda had run a strong race early on but faded in the last quarter to finally finish 6th being passed by Beth Pascall from the UK and Eva Sperger. The ladies race had notable drop outs with some key favourites haveng a tough night, in particular Caroline Chaverot, Francesca Canepa and Emilie Lecomte.
For the men, Pau Capell as defending champion was the man to beat and he looked relaxed with expectation on his shoulders. He ran smart, calm and cool as Frenchman Aurelien Collet dictated the pace from the front. At the iconic Roque Nublo the duo were less than a minute apart and Aurelien must have felt like a hunted animal. Pau eventually made his move and he opened a gap immediately which he extended to the line finishing in 12:42:08 ahead of Aurelien’s 12:56. A strong attack had been expected from the USA’s Tim Tollefson and certainly over the first third of the race his presence was felt, however, a recurring injury kicked in and he was forced to drop. Cristofer Clemente took over the reigns and running his longest ever race he surprised himself taking the final podium slot in 13:22. Daniel Jung placed 4th.
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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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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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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The 2017 edition of the race will be remembered for a very cold and windy night that challenged the runners. Even the arrival of daylight did not warm the ambient temperature in the mountains. It was only as the runners descended to the sea in the final 20-30km’s did temperatures rise and of course, this brings it’s own problems. From 4-degrees to 25-degrees is a tough ask. The challenge was clearly seen on each runners face.
Pau Capell and Azara Garcia are the names of 2017, I wonder, who will be the names of 2018?
Pau Capell 13:21:03 (Didrick ran 13:41 in 2016)
Vlaidas Zlabys 13:35:38
Didrick Hermansen 13:50:06
Jordi Baus 13:53:53
Maxime Cazajous 13:53:54
Azara Garcia 16:25:20 (Caroline ran 15:23 in 2016)
Andrea Huser 17:15:45
Melanie Rousset 17:30:40
Kistin Berglund 18:00:04
Ildo Wermescher 18:17:43
Images will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com
This is Episode 108 of Talk Ultra. We speak with 2016 Transgrancanaria champion, Didrik Hermansen. We have a chat with Brit Paul Navesey about winning the 100km Anglo Celtic Plate and Jason Schlarb gives us the lowdown of skiing the Hardrock 100 route in 4 days. Niandi gives us a stress fracture update (Ian and Niandi loose the plot!) and Niandi brings us another Big Red Run interview and Speedgoat is here after ‘another’ 100-mile victory.
00:01:31 Show Start
Karl wins another 100 – 16:47 at Lake Martin 100
Ian’s been swimming and cycling but no running
Niandi gives us an update on her injury and talks to Kirsten about the Big Red Run
Kirsten Maplestone ran the Big Red Run in Australia in a past edition and will return in 2016, Niandi caught up and had a chat about the unique challenges this race brings. Read about and enter the Big Red Run HERE
Anglo Celtic Plate
Paul Navesey 6:58:52
Daniel Weston 7:11:47
Robert Turner 7:17:11
Melissa Vendables 8:15:54
Edwina Sutton 8:24:05
Sophie Mullins 8:30:22
01:01:00 INTERVIEW PAUL NAVESEY
Two Oceans in SA (56km)
Mike Fokoroni 3:13:33
Caroline Wostmann 3:44:44
Ryan Bak 3:38:17
Mario Mendoza 3:40:00
Matt Flaherty 3:43:00
Ellie Greenwood 4:11:58
Anne Marie Madden 4:22:00
Sarah Bard 4:25:00
Georgia Death Race 68m
Andrew Miller and Bethany Patterson took out the wins in 11:42 and 14:28 for WSER slots
Trail du Ventoux 46km
Nico Martin and in-form Caroline Chaverot took out victories.
Iditarod Trail Invitational 1000m
Tim Hewitt (61) 19 days 9 hours 49 minutes – ouch! First person ever to complete in under 20 days
The 2016 Transgrancanaria concluded in Maspalomas this morning at 5am after many runners battled through two nights and a long hot day to achieve the goal of completing the 125km journey from the north to the south of the island. It’s a race of many challenges!
The first big European race on the calendar, Transgrancanaria always attracts a high quality elite field and this year was no different. Starting at 2300 hours on Friday under warm skies, runners left the coastal town of Agaete and then weaved a route through many climbs and descents on what is a very demanding island to run on.
Aurelien Collet and Caroline Chaverot started the race like two possessed animals, constantly pushing and dictating the pace at the front. Chaverot was not a surprise after her string of recent high quality results and her 2nd place in Transgrancanaria last year. Collet though was a surprise!
As the runners ran into the night, Artenara was one of the first key aid stations and it soon became clear that the evening temperatures were causing many problems. A wind had started to increase off the coast and with it temperatures dropped.
By contrast, day temperatures were very warm and in the men’s race Roque Nublo became a significant point in the race as 2015 winner, Gediminas Grinius closed on Collet who had dictated the pace from the start.
Hermansen was also closing on Grinius and we knew the race was on!
In the ladies race, Chaverot’s lead was so huge it would have taken an injury for her to lose her lead, particularly after the withdrawal of Nuria Picas in the night with an injury. Emelie Lecomte, Andrea Huser and Uxue Fraile were pursuing but they were in a different race.
Hermansen finally took hold of the race in the section between Garanon and Pico de las Nieves when he overtook Collet. Grinius pursued but Hermann was committed to victory, something that he had prepared meticulously for having placed 2nd in 2015. He stopped the clock in 13:41:48 which established a new course record*
Pau Capell, winner of Transgrancanaria’s Advanced race in 2015, moved up a notch to finish on the podium jointly with Diego Pazos for third.
Caroline Chaverot was in a league of her own this year, committed, focused and dedicated, she was like a machine! Despite her huge lead, Chaverot continued to push the pace all the way to the finish and she also, like Hermansen, set a new course record and finished in the top-20 overall. Her closest rival was Andrea Huser who was almost 2 hours behind. Uxue Fraile finished 3rd.
*This years course has now been changed over the final 25km which is slightly less distance but more technical.
Many of the top elite runners assembled in Maslpalomas, Gran Canaria yesterday evening for the Transgrancanaria 2016 elite press conference.
In the past few years, Transgrancanaria has grown as the first big European race that in many ways sets the scene for what is to come later in the year.
The 2016 edition of the race is no different.
2015 champion Gediminas Grinius is back and looking to defend his crown but he is going to have a tough job. He said:
“I feels no pressure now but as I stand on the start, the tension will come and then will be soon released. I am here to perform to the best of my ability.”
Seth Swanson from the USA is considered to be a dark horse, his repeat 2nd places at the past editions of Western States and 4th at UTMB not only means that he has pace to run fast but that he can also climb and descend.
“I’m really happy to be back in Europe and the opportunity to run across an island, from the top to the bottom, is one of the unique attraction of the Transgrancanaria race.”
Julien Chorier, Yan Long Fei, Antoine Guillon, Didrik Hermansen, Jonas Buud, Tim Tollefson, Sondre Amdahl, Andy Symonds, Seb Chaigneau, Yeray Duran are just some of the other top elite men who will contest the finish line on Saturday outside the Palais de Congress in Maspalomas.
The ladies race has less depth but two time champion Nuria Picas is back and of course a hot favourite for victory. Last years 2nd placed lady, Caroline Chaverot is also one to watch:
“I want to have a good race, a pleasant journey and I hope I don’t get lost… last year I made a couple of mistakes.”
The USA’s Angela Shartel was also present and excited to be racing in Europe for the first time.
Dong Li, Uxue Fraile, Manuela Vilaseca, Lisa Borzani, Anrea Huser and Silvia Trigueros are also hot contenders for the top-3 podium places.
Racing starts at 2300 (local time) on Friday March 4th
March rolls around once again and with it, the Transgrancanaria. Arguably, the Canarian island of Gran Canaria kicks off the serious European racing calendar with the Transgrancanaria and 2016, like all previous years, once again has a quality line up.
On first impressions, the male and female elite field may not have the depth of some previous editions, but those who are racing bring a high pedigree to the race and the action at the front, as always, will be fast and tough.
Transgrancanaria is a tough, tough course with some brutal and relentless climbing, particularly in the opening kilometers under darkness. What follows is a rollercoaster of Canarian landscape that leads the runners from the north of the island, all the way down to the south, with a finish close to the sea. It’s a logical and pleasing crossing of the island.
Past editions of the race have been criticized for the final 10-20km that involved running in what felt like a concrete tube, I have been informed that a new finish route is planned and so therefore we can expect finish times different to previous editions.
This route, the island, the weather and the unpredictable nature that a 125km route brings guarantees that we are in for a special battle. Now in its 3rd edition as part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) the 2016 Transgrancanaria will be an exciting race.
Heading up the male line-up is 2015 champion, Gediminas Grinius. We coined a phrase last year that Gediminas has become the #GrinReaper. He lived up to that reputation in the 2015 race when he closed like a demon to win the race against a world-class field. Gediminas has been a revelation over the past 2-years and his rise in the sport has been great to watch. Without doubt, he is a hot favourite for the 2016 win.
Didrik Hermansen and Sondre Amdahl will not be far behind Gediminas, this duo raced side-by-side in 2015 and on that occasion, Hermansen took the 2nd podium place. He followed this with a win at Lavaredo and 3rd at UltraVasen. This duo have had an equally impressive rise in the sport over the last 2-years, particularly Amdahl who races regularly. He follows up Transgrancanaria with his first multi-day race; Marathon des Sables. Sondre placed 4th at Transgrancanaria last year and 4th at UTMF, his best result coming at Hong Kong 100 where he placed 2nd.
An exciting prospect is the USA’s Seth Swanson. Seth is very much a runner who is below the radar in Europe, however, his podium (2nd) back-to-backs at Western States elevate him to a complete surprise package on the Canarian trails of Gran Canaria. The big question will come with the relentless hands-on-knees climbing that Transgrancanaria brings. Of course, he placed 4th at UTMB so I have it on good authority that Seth can look after himself… one to watch for the win!