Strong line-up in TransGranCanaria
Tonight at 11pm the 2016 edition of the popular ultra-trail race TransGranCanaria starts in the cosy beach town Agaete on the north-west side of Gran Canaria. This year the field of elite runners is perhaps stronger than ever, including 100K world champion Jonas Buud (Swe) and a few international top-runners specially invited by the Ultra-Trail World Tour organisation: Tim Tollefson (US), Julien Chorier (Fra), Long-Fei Yan (Ch), Li-Dong (Ch) and Angela Shartel (US).
One strong reason to TransGranCanaria’s popularity is the timing. “It’s very motivating in the beginning of the season, especially for us trail runners who prefer more technical race courses”, said elite runner Caroline Chaverot (Fra) at the press conference on Friday. There are plenty of pre-race favourites but also several strong less known contenders. Ultra-trail expert Ian Corless predicts Seth Swanson, US (4th at UTMB 2016 and 2nd at Western States) has got both the speed and the necessary strenght. Read his pre-race piece here.
This years edition might be somewhat faster than previous year due to the exclusion of the section across the sand dunes at the end. The weather forecast also predicts cooler temperatures. However the last part of the former course has been changed in favour of trail vs concrete.
From the official press release:
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 4th March 2016. – The Transgrancanaria is the pioneering trailrunning race at the Canary Islands. This race, in which runners must cross the island in less than 30 hours (in the longest modality), has been taking place since October 2003. Year after year and “step by step”, the race has consolidated itself… …This weekend, Gran Canaria will be a big Tower of Babel from the starting line at Agaete tonight, to the trophy reclaim on Sunday 6th March at San Bartolomé de Tirajana. Over 3,400 runners from 65 different countries the race are registered for the race. Having a starting gate with 75 international elite runners, only in the longest modality, has granted Gran Canaria the category of trailrunning worldwide epicenter.
Nuria Picas, last year champion, says “I am very motivated and enthusiastic to face up this 1st race of the season. That’s good because it means that I am prepared for the challenge. The level this year will be very high due to the elite runners’ participation. I am feeling happy, but at the same time, I am connected to the race and really concentrated. The exigence will be bigger, turning the race into a much bigger event”.
Picas hopes to repeat victory “like in the last two editions, but I am aware of the difficulty. The role of being one of the favorite is not mine. The finishing line is my dream!”. The champion has emphasized “the beauty of the race and the difficulty of the last kilometers. The island is a treasure for me. I am feeling very comfortable. I have a very special feeling”. At the same time, she highlighted “the high level and the high quantity of well-known runners competing in the race. For me, they are the real heroes”.
Sébastian Chaigneau admits that he has come back to the Transgrancanaria with enthusiasm, “it is one of my favorite races, I always come back very enthusiastic. It is a real mountain race, really hard and exciting. But the good views compensate everything because we can see the sea from the mountains”. According to the two-time champion, on 2012 and on 2013, whose record was beaten by Gediminas Grinius last year, “finishing the race after a whole year is really difficult”.
Julien Chorier, a French elite runner, maintains that this is one of the best races to start the season, “I really like the route because we cross the island from North to South by the mountains”. Chorier has been training very hard “I have been training hard to be fit, but it is really hard during this time of the year. I hope to be at the same level of the other runners and to stay among the first positions nearly the whole time”. According to the French runner, “it is impossible to forecast. There is so much level!”. He is very satisfied to be able to participate in the race, having the 2nd position on 2014 and being able to enjoy the island with his family. In fact, he has been here with them in February while he was training with Yeray Durán. “Meeting so many friends at the starting line is very exciting”. “Good luck everyone”, he said.
Yeray Durán, from Gran Canaria, could surprise us in this edition. After having the 5th position during the Ultra Trail Vibram at Hong Kong, he is starting as one of the favorite runners. But according to him, all the runners have doubts about the arrival due to the fact of being at the beginning of the season. “Maybe I feel better because of that. I am probably in better conditions than in Hong Kong. I must not forget that the Transgrancanaria is a race with a lot of inclines, that is why it is one of my favorites!”, he said.