Ah, ladies, ladies, ladies! What fun this year’s Transvulcania Ultramarathon will be for watching some of the top mountain and ultra runners duke it out as well as for observing other gals we might know less about but who still have sick talent.
With the 83.3-kilometer, highly mountainous, and ridiculously diverse course, race favorites will be the ladies who can go the distance on unending vertical terrain as well as the gals who’ve trained and/or raced on the course, and, therefore, know its quirks. Finally, this year’s weather is forecast to be significantly cooler than last year’s oven, so this variable might allow the ladies who’ve been training in cooler climates to compete with the ladies who’ve been heat training.
I’ll begin by reiterating that Anna Frost (New Zealand, Salomon), last year’s the Transvulcania champion and course-record holder (post-race interview, Anna’s race report), is out due to injury. I wish her a fast recovery!
[Editor’s note: We’ve also previewed the 2013 Transvulcania men’s field.]
Contenders for the Win
Emelie Forsberg (pre-race interview) (from Sweden and living in Norway, Salomon) is a go-to favorite. This young woman was swept up by the Salomon International Team in early 2012 at the head of what would become a year that can’t even be categorized as a breakout for how big it was. She won Kilian’s Classik and the Dolomites Skyrace in July, the Pikes Peak Marathon in August, the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon in October, and The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championship (post-race interview) in December. And that’s not even touching the other half-dozen or so large races at which she still podiumed. We know she’s fit, having converted from a winter of ski mountainteering and ski-mo racing to trail running in March so that she could adequately prepare for Transvulcania, her first 2013 running race (aside from a relay at Tarawera). And, she turned up on La Palma about two weeks early so she could train on the course.
Nuria Picas (Catalonia, FEEC and Buff) is also no stranger to the Transvulcania course, having finished second 40 minutes behind Frost last year. She’s also no stranger to beating Emelie Forsberg, either. Nuria bested her and won last September’s Ultra Cavalls del Vent. Nuria also won and bested Emelie at August’s Trofeo Kima and came one place ahead of Emelie (Nuria was second and Emelie third) at the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon in April 2012. Additionally, she won Les Templiers last October. We imagine Nuria arrives to La Palma in peak condition, as she just won the Alta Segarra, a 25k Catalonian mountain race, by more than eight minutes a couple weekends back.
What’s great about this year’s Transvulcania is that the women’s field is stacked with elites from other parts of the world that many of us haven’t seen too much of. As we watch the races for women’s podium and top 10 unfold, we’ll learn more and more about the gals who kick butt outside of North America.
I suspect that Fernanda Maciel (pre-race interview) (from Brazil but living in Spain, The North Face) will fiercely fight for a coveted podium spot. The converted adventure racer and triathlete has found her footing in ultrarunning, and her 2012 was filled with success. Last March, she was first at The North Face Transgrancanaria 123k and, in April, she won The North Face Ultra-Trail Mont Fuji’s sister race, the STY. In June, she finished second at The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail. Her seventh-place finish at the 2012 UTMB was nothing to sneeze at as she was just one hour, forty minutes behind winner Lizzy Hawker. And, as if the rest of the year wasn’t enough, in October, she became the first woman to run the 860k Spanish long trail, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and she did so in a zooming 10 days.
Emilie Lecomte (France, Quechua) may be the name in this preview that you haven’t heard of but should. In 2012, she was ninth a the 2012 UTMB and about two hours off winner Lizzy Hawker and she also won the Grand Raid Reunion in October, finishing 10th overall. Perhaps her biggest achievement last year was her resetting of the women’s FKT on the GR20, a 180k long trail on Corsica, at 41 hours, 22 minutes, 10 seconds in June.
While she was previously entered, Maud Gobert will not be running Transvulcania this year.
New-ish Names Who Could Make Big Plays
Jennifer Benna (USA, Hoka One One) is the lone high-level US woman running Transvulcania. If you’ve been following her progress with ultrarunning over the years, Jennifer’s been steadily increasing her frequency of strong performances at US events. In 2012, she won the Ray Miller 50k and finished seventh at the super-stacked Speedgoat 50k. So far this year, she won the Bandera 50k and the Zion 100. The Zion 100 was just three weeks before Transvulcania, so as long as she’s recovered I expect her in this weekend’s top 10.
Watch for Nuria Dominguez (Spain) to make a dent this weekend. Last year, she was second at April’s The North Face Transgrancanaria 42k and less than three minutes behind winner Emelie Forsberg. Also, in October, she was fourth at the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon again behind Forsberg and third place Nuria Picas. I know she’s got the stamina to run long, too, as she was on the fourth-place women’s team at the 2011 GORE-TEX Transalpine-Run.
Uxue Fraile (Spain, Adidas) finished fifth at Transvulcania last year and 90 minutes in back of Anna Frost. She followed that up a weekend later with a seventh place at the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon and about 19 minutes back from second- and third-place women Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg. She was fifth at the 2012 Ultra Cavalls del Vent and about one hour, 15 minutes behind winner Picas in September. In November, she was second at the Salomon K42 Adventure Marathon in Patagonia. I imagine she’ll be within 45 minutes of the winning woman this weekend.
Lidia Gomez (Spain, Studio 54 and Helly Hansen) won March 2012’s The North Face Transgrancanaria 96k and was second at this year’s The North Face Transgrancanaria 83k. Her name has been on the Euro ultra scene for several years now, so we can perhaps expect an even-keel performance from her.
Nathalie Mauclair (France, LaFuma) might be the smallest woman among this year’s Transvulcania elite, but I think she packs a hefty punch. The masters runner is a former competitive mountain-bike racer turned trail runner. She was sixth at last October’s Les Templiers and about 23 minutes behind winner Nuria Picas.
Karine Sanson (France, Salomon) won the 2012 Grand Raid Des Pyrenees.
Call for Comments
- Who do you think will run well this weekend? Tell us what you know!
- Did we miss someone who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section.