Transgrancanaria 2016 – Elite Press Conference

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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

Read a full race preview HERE

Transgrancanaria 2016 #TGC16 – Race Preview

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747March 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.

Map

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.

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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.
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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! ©iancorless.com_EcoTrailMadeira2015-9101

Julien Chorier always impresses me on tough and technical courses, in addition to his all around climbing ability, he can run with the best too. His experiences on Gran Canaria are also good (2nd in 2014 behind Ryan Sandes), he knows the course, he has been on the podium and we can expect a top drawer performance that will contest the podium once again. Julien placed 6th at Western States, so if he is in a neck-to-neck with Swanson later in the race, my money is on Swanson. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6897

Antoine Guillon is a UTWT regular and in the past has raced every race in the calendar, he often misses the big victory because of this but his consistency is 100%. You can almost predict that if injury does not hit h will be in the top-10 and has a good chance of top-5. He placed 3rd last year and also won Raid de la Reunion. ©iancorless.com-9303Kima2014_

Like Swanson, Yan Long Fei will also be another surprise package for the podium and potential win. His gentle rise in the sport has been special to watch and his recent 2nd place result in Hong Kong 100 will boost his confidence for Transgrancanaria. ©iancorless.com_ITT2015-0065

Andy Symonds is back on form after extended injury and this course will suit the Brit who lives in France. The only question may come with the distance and potential time on feet, 125km is a long race for Andy but he does have plans to extend his range and Transgrancanaria is a good place to start. Andy had 5 victories in 2015, the last coming at Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkai ahead of Julien Chorier. He also completed the super tough and technical ELS2900. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-7329

Yeray Duran represents the local talent; he always performs well on a race that may well be the highlight of his year. Other top names to watch are Pau Capell, Toti Bes, Jordi Camito, Pau Bartolo and the return of Sebastien Chaigneau.

*Late additions to my entry list come no bigger than Miguel Heras (ouch! if he is on form he could crush it), Jonas Buud is super fast and can climb as we have seen at UTMB and Skyrunning hot shot Franco Colle will love this 8000m+ course.
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Nuria Picas heads up the ladies’ field and is the two time defending champion. I wouldn’t want to bet against her on this course and one only needs to look at her pal mares for a confirmation of her ability. Nuria had 4 victories in 2015 that included Grand raid Reunion, arguably though her most impressive year is 2014 with 7 victories and 2nd at UTMB.
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Caroline Chaverot has been a revelation over the past 2-years and her growth in the sport phenomenal. Like Nathalie Macular, she is a wife and a mother who manages to race at the highest level. Caroline placed 2nd behind Picas in 2015 but went on to win at Lavaredo and the Eiger Ultra Trail. I saw Caroline in December while I was in La Palma, she was training on the Transvulcania route. If it all comes together, she can win and certainly make the podium.

Uxue Fraile has always impressed me with her waiting game and patience. She is not the fastest lady in the race but she has the patience and the long game. She proved this in 2015 with a victory at UTMF and 2nd at UTMB. Axe’s last time at Transgrancanaria was in 2014 with 6th place, I think the podium may well be hers in 2016.

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Andrea Huser placed 4th at Transgrancanaria in 2015 and then followed up with 12 races where she ranked in the top-5 at all of them with Matterhorn Ultraks the exception where she placed 8th. One would arguably say that she races too much… she is relentless. I get tired looking at her result sheet but an early season race may well mean she is fresh!

Silvia Trigueros may mix things up for the podium as her recent 3rd place at Hong Kong 100 confirms. This result is backed up with a solid 2015 and in particular a top result at UTMB where she placed 4th.
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Dong Li placed 3rd last year and backed this up with strong performances at TNF100 in Australia and the 80km Mont-Blanc.

Lisa Borzani recently placed 2nd at Hong Kong 100 and therefore this elevates her to a contender for the Transgrancanaria podium. However, her results do seem to blow hot and cold, this is reflected with 14th at the Eiger and 10th at Lavaredo.

Manuela Vilaseca placed 5th last year and with this lady’s line-up, I think we can expect a repeat performance. Her 5th place at Lavaredo backs this up as does her 10th at UTMB.

The wild card is Angela Shartel who I know little about but her results are impressive; 1st Bear 100 mile, 1st Cruel Jewel 100 mile, 1st at Crown King Scramble 50k and that is just 2015 – watch this space.

Race website HERE

Racing takes place this coming weekend March 4th – 6th and you can view images, read reports and follow the racing on all my usual channels.

Twitter – @talkultra

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MSIG Sai Kung 50 Skyrunning Continental Championships – Race Preview

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Skyrunning goes global! Normally we would be previewing the first race in the Skyrunner® World Series in April with the prospect of Transvulcania or Zegama-Aizkorri looming around the corner. Not in 2015! More races, more places and now, the chance to count an extra race in the ranking.

The successful 5/5/5 formula (VK, Sky and Ultra) stays where three results from five count but now you must include a fourth race from the Continental Championships. Step in the MSIG Sai Kung 50 in Hong Kong.

3+1Taking place on February 7th, Michael Maddess from Action Asia has assembled a high quality field that will do battle on the trails of Sai Kung after starting in Pak Tam Chung Picnic Garden. Rest assured, this race will be no picnic!

A ranking race this early in the Skyrunning season is extremely significant when one is looking to contest the Skyrunner® World Series. Early points provide a great platform on which to build a season and this is reflected with the presence of Marco De Gasperi, Elisa Desco, Kasie Enman, Tom Owens, Fulvio Dapit, Stephanie Jiminez, Alesandra Carlini, Vlad Ixel, Samir Temang, Luke Nelson, Blake Hose, Dong Li, Yan Long Fei, Mira Rai and so many more.

Two races are on offer

28km SKYRACE and the 50km ULTRA SKYMARATHON.

The SKYRACE has 1954m of vertical gain and 1941m of loss and a maximum elevation of 408m. The ULTRA SKYMARATHON has 2810m of elevation gain ad 2781m of elevation loss. Race director, Michael Maddess says,

This 50km course is tough & we believe one of the toughest 50km course in Hong Kong yet one of the most spectacular beautiful courses in Asia.”

Winning times in 2014 for the 50km event were 4:51:05 for Rudy Gilman (USA) and 6:00:59 for Cassie Scallon (USA).

PREVIEW

When a race field contains past champions, world champions and a plethora of rising talent, we know the action in Hong Kong is going to be incredible.

MEN

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Yan Long Fei (50km) just the other weekend won Hong Kong 100 in 9:52. A 2:15 marathon runner, Yan must be an outright favourite for racing here at Sai Kung. Providing he has recovered? It’s a justifiable question mark.

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Marco de Gasperi (28km) needs no introduction to anyone. When in form he is an unstoppable force on any mountain course. A long time sparring partner for Kilian Jornet, Marco’s presence in Hong Kong is extremely exciting and he will be a hot favourite. Marco had a mixed 2014 with injury niggles and we sincerely hope he has been able to get fit and healthy over winter.

Vlad Ixel (50km) also ran at Hong Kong 100 but twisted an ankle just before the race; this hampered any possibility to contest the front of the race. Vlad is a fast runner who is slowly but surely making his presence felt in all the races he runs. In 2014 he spent time in Europe, which opened his eyes to the challenges that European racing brings. He will be focused on the podium at Sai Kung.

Blake Hose (50km) surprised everyone at the Skyrunning World Championships in the middle of 2014 when he placed 6th overall. In actual fact, the whole Australian Skyrunning team was a revelation. Eager to impress, Blake will look at Sai Kung as an incredible opportunity and I know that he has plans to spend time in Europe in 2015; watch out!

©iancorless.com.IMG_6959Transvulcania14Luke Nelson (50km) loves the mountains and excels at the 100-mile distance. He has been a regular at Transvulcania and has placed consistently well at Speedgoat 50k. Over the winter he has had an expended period in Patagonia, so it’s fair to assume that Luke will be in great shape.

©iancorless.com_Nepal2014_7-1046Samir Tamang (50km) placed 2nd at the TDS (UTMB sister race) and I was fortunate to watch him race day-in and day-out at the Everest Trail Race in November. He’s a super talented athlete who loves the mountains. He will be a fierce competitor at Sai Kung and don’t be surprised if he contests the podium looking for the top spot. 

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Fulvio Dapit (50km) is a regular in races all over the world. A Skyrunner in the purest form, Fulvio has experience and endurance that will play into his hands on a tough course here in Hong Kong.

David Byrne (50km)

What excites me most about racing in Hong Kong is the opportunity to test myself against top class athletes on a course that’s steep and technical. I’ve heard a lot of great things about trail running in Hong Kong and the awesome running culture there, so to experience it first hand will be special.”

David is a fast man! A 29-minute 10k confirms this. Explosive speed and strength is not always a guarantee for success on tough, mountainous and technical courses, however, David has won the Six Foot Track back in Australia. One to watch!

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens (28km)

“I’m very excited about racing in Hong Kong, especially in Sai kung, where the trails look great. It will be nice to get some warmer weather (it’s been very wet and dark in Scotland) and kick start the 2015 Skyrunning campaign with an early season race.”

Tom is one of the UK’s top fell, mountain and Skyrunners. In previous years he has excelled, in particular, 2012 and 2014. Unfortunately 2013 was a troubled year with injury but Tom is back. When in form, he can push Kilian Jornet all the way to the line and although Sai Kung comes early in the year, Tom is fit and therefore has great potential for top honours.

Martin Gaffuri (28km) moved up the ISF rankings in 2013 with a series of strong and consistent performances. However, 2014 was a troubled year. Early success at Tarawera and a good run at the Skyrunning World Championships were never really followed up with stellar performances of the previous year. With some time away from the sport and racing, it will be interesting to see if Martin has recharged his batteries for the 2015 season.

Ones to watch – Male

  • Marco Sturm
  • Mohamad Affindi Nudin
  • Chou Pin Chi
  • Dai Matsumoto
  • You Peigui

LADIES

©iancorless.com_IMG_1042Zegama14Elisa Desco (28km) is the current Skyrunning World Champion and along with a string of high profile performances in 2014 is without doubt a hot favourite for victory in Hong Kong. However, Elisa will not have things her own way!

©iancorless.com-0556Kima2014_Kasie Enman (50km)

I am excited to kick off the 2015 Skyrunning Season with the MSIG Sai Kung 50.  I finished up my 2014 racing season mid-September with a 2nd place overall ranking in the Skyrunning Ultra Series, then took a couple months of down time in my training and racing to recuperate and enjoy time with my family at home in Vermont (Northeast USA, near the Canadian border).  I am excited to have the opportunity to come to Hong Kong to see the trails and meet the trail runners here.  It will be my first time visiting and running in Asia.”

Kasie deciding to race this early in the season can only mean one thing, early season points and the opportunity to gain a foothold in the Skyrunner® World Series. Kasie had a great 2014 running strong at Zegama-Aizkorri, Speedgoat 50k and taking victory at Trofeo Kima.

Wyan Chow Pui Yan (50km) won the recent HK100 and therefore like Long Yan Fei and Dong Li, powers of recovery will be tested. Ryan has recently quit the police force to be a full time trainer and therefore allow her more time for recovery and racing. It’s an interesting and exciting prospect to see how she performs against some of the worlds best Skyrunners.

Dong Li (50km) also heads up the local talent and placed 2nd at the HK100 in 12:39 just two weeks ago. Sai Kung coming so close to HK100 will almost certainly leave Dong Li feeling a little jaded and therefore racing some of the top female Skyrunners in the world may well push her to her limits. But the talent is there for all to see.

©iancorless.com-0303Kima2014_Alesandra Carlini (50km) placed 2nd at Sai Kung in 2014 and followed up her performance with a string of top performances. Considering Allesandra lives on the Italian coast, her ability in the mountains is seriously impressive as we witnessed at Ice Trail Tarentaise and Trofeo Kima. Arguably a stronger field is assembled for 2015, however, Allesandra has the potential to contest the podium.

Mira Rai (50km) from Nepal is a previous winner of HK50 and placed 2nd at Lantau 50. All great credentials for a top performance here in Sai Kung.

Lucy Bartholomew (50km)

“Don’t think about it as one big chunk of a run. For me I break it down into checkpoints and make it into achievable amounts! It’s never going to be easy but the key is to find happiness in the toughness of it because when you get to the top it’s worth it!”

Lucy is the junior Skyrunning World Champion and so therefore Sai Kung will be a steep learning curve for the young Australian. Coached by Emelie Forsberg, Lucy is a rising star in the sport.

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Stephanie Jiminez (28km) is a last minute entry to the race and is always a force to be reckoned with. Consistently strong on VK courses and SKY distances races, Stephanie can push the pace and the competition to the edge.

Ones to watch – Female

  • Hsiao Shiang Chong
  • Ho JoChun
  • Shiho Iwadate

All the action starts in the early hours of Saturday February 7th.

You can follow our reports and stories on this website.

 Facebook and on Twitter @talkultra

Race website HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Skyrunning Twitter feed @skyrunning_com

Skyrunning Facebook page HERE

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