Transgrancanaria 125km Race Preview

The Transgrancanaria is a series of races taking place from February 22-26 with the center piece being the 125k event (there are also 265k, 82k, 42k, 30k and 17k events), which is also the third race in the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT).

The race takes place on the island of Gran Canaria, which is part of the Canary Islands in Spain and participants will race across the island. The 125km route includes a challenging 8000 meters of elevation gain starting at Agaete and finishing in Maspalomas.

The course was changed slightly in 2016 and is now slightly shorter, however arguably more technical. The course records were set in 2016 by Didrik Hermansen for the men (13:41:48) and Caroline Chaverot for the women (15:23:40). The race is largely considered the first major race on the European racing calendar that always attracts a deep elite field and 2017 is looking no different. There is a huge international field set to battle it out come February 25.

I will start with the women’s field which includes two of the most consistent and strong performers of the last two years. The returning champion Caroline Chaverot of France and last year’s runner up Andrea Huser of Switzerland have both raced very strongly over the last 12 months, and there could be a repeat battle for the top spot between these two.

In 2016 Caroline was 1st at Transgrancanaria, Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Mont Blanc 80k, Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) and IAU World Trail Championships. In 2016 Andrea was 2nd at Transgrancanaria, Madeira Island Ultra Trail and UTMB plus 1st at Lavaredo Ultra Trail, Eiger Ultra Trail and Grand Raid Reunion. I think it is clear that these women are at the top of their game with the only question being can they carry their form into 2017 or are they perhaps a little worn out.

Gemma Arenas of Spain also had a strong 2016 and is likely to give Caroline and Andrea a serious run for their money. In 2016 she was 6th at Transvulcania, 1st at Madeira Sky Marathon, 4th at High Trail Vanoise, 1st at Ultra Pirineu Trail and 5th at IAU World Trail Championships.

Jennifer Benna from America has had a strong last few years in the sport, however I believe this is her first time racing in Europe. In 2016 she was 3rd at the Leadville 100 Mile and Sean O’Brien 100k, and in 2015 she was 2nd at Angeles Crest 100 Mile and 1st at American River 50 Mile. There are many other strong female runners however I believe the final podium positions will include the women mentioned above.

Other strong female runners:

  • Ildiko Wermescher of Germany, 9th UTA 100 2016, 2nd Zugsplitz Ultratrail 2016 and 7th UTMB 2016.
  • Lisa Borzani of Italy, 2nd Vibram 100 2016, 1st Dolomiti Extreme Trail 103k 2016, 1st Andorra Ultra Trail 2016 and 1st Tor Des Geants 2016.
  • Beth Pascall of Great Britain, 1st Highland Fling 53 Mile 2016, 1st Lakeland 100 Mile 2016, 8th IAU World Trail Championships 2016.
  • Helene Ogi of Switzerland, 17th Transgrancanaria 2016, 5th Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2016.
  • Juliette Blanchet of France, 4th Madeira Ultra Trail 2016, 3rd Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2016, 4th UTMB 2016 and 2nd Grand Raid Reunion 2016.
  • Manuela Vilaseca of Spain, 1st Ultra Fiord Patagonia 2016, 16th Transvulcania 2016 and 7th Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2016.
  • Yulia Baykova of Russia, 10th Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2016 and 6th Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) 2016.

The men’s field is looking very deep with the returning champion Didrik Hermansen of Norway coming back to defend his title. Since winning this race last year, Didrik has had a strong last 12 months of racing including 2nd at Western States Endurance Run (WSER), 1st Bergen Ultra 100k and most recently 4th at the 2017 Vibram 100.

However there are several other strong runners who will challenge him for the win and overall podium positions, including Pau Capell of Spain, Andy Symonds of Great Britain, Antoine Guillon of France and Julien Chorier of France. Pau is still young however has shown himself to be a force to be reckoned with and in 2016 alone he was 4th at Vibram 100, 3rd at Transgrancanaria, 1st at Ultra Trail Australia and 6th at Lavaredo Ultra Trail. Andy also had a strong 2016 with 5th at Transgrancanaria, 4th at Transvulcania, 1st at Lavaredo Ultra Trail and 9th at IAU World Trail Championships.

Antoine and Julien have many years of experience and traditionally have always done better in longer ultra races. In 2016 Antoine as 1st at Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan 100 Mile, 11th at Transgrancanaria, 9th at Madeira Ultra Trail and 2nd at Grand Raid Reunion. In 2016 Julien was 7th at Transgrancanaria, 8th at UTMB and most recently in 2017 he was 10th at the Vibram 100.

The other strong runners that I believe can also potentially compete for podium positions are Sage Canaday of America  Jordi Gamito of Spain. Sage in 2016 was 1st at Black Canyon 100k, 3rd at Transvulcania and 11th at WSER, and most recently in 2017 was 3rd at Vibram 100. Jordi in 2016 was 6th at Vibram 100, 10th at Transgrancanaria, 9th Ultra Trail Australia and 3rd at Eiger Ultra Trail 101k.

Other strong male runners:

  • Ben Duffus of Australia, 1st Hounslow Classic 2015, 2nd Ultra Trail Australia 2016, 3rd Bogong to Hotham 2017.
  • Diego Pazos of Switzerland, 1st Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2016, 1st Mont Blanc 80k 2016, 4th Transgrancanaria 2016.
  • Shunsuke Okunomiya of Japan, 6th Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2015, 12th Vibram 100 2016.
  • Timothy Olson of America, 9th Hardrock 100 Mile 2016, 5th Quad Rock 50 Mile 2016, 1st Sean O’Brien 50k 2016.
  • Pau Bartolo of Spain, 1st TDS 2015, 9th Ultra Trail Australia 2015, 6th Tarawera Ultra 100k 2015.
  • Daniel Jung of Italy, 1st Dolomiti Extreme Trail 103k 2016, 1st Sudtirol Ultra Skyrace 2016, 2nd Vibram 100 2017.
  • Yeray Duran of Spain, 5th Vibram 100 2016, 17th Transgrancanaria 2016, 2nd Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) 2016.
  • Freddy Thevenin of France, 8th Transgrancanaria 2015, 3rd Grand Raid Reunion 2015, 15th Ultra Trail Australia 2016.
  • Casey Morgan of Scotland, 10th Transgrancanaria 2014, 1st Trail Menorca Costa Nord 2015, 2nd EcoTrail Madeira Island 2016.
  • Fabien Antolinos of France, 4th Madeira Island Ultra 2016, 5th UTMB 2015, 5th Ice Trail Tarentaise 2015.
  • Ryan Ghelfi of America, 1st Pine to Palm 100 Mile 2016, 4th Gorge Waterfalls 100k 2016, 3rd Black Canyon 100k 2015.
  • Vaidas Zlabys of Lithuania, 8th Transgrancanaria 2016

 

David’s picks for the podium:

Women – 1st Caroline Chaverot 2nd Andrea Huser 3rd Gemma Arenas

Men – 1st Didrik Hermansen 2nd Andy Symonds 3rd Pau Capell

*Sage and Beth are no longer running.

David Longo
David is a Canberra-based ultra runner who has also lived in Hong Kong. He races regularly both on the HK and Australian ultra scene.

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