This weekend, eyes turned to Spain’s Gran Canaria for the 2015 edition of The North Face Transgrancanaria. Lithuania’s Gediminus Grinius (post-race interview) and Spain’s Núria Picas (post-race interview) took home the wins with two very different but equally successful racing styles.
Below you’ll find our play-by-play summary as well as race results. As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to TGC-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports. Check back!
Coverage of this year’s Transgrancanaria is brought you by the iRunFar Store, which is currently undergoing a huge closeout sale. Get great deals on trail running gear and support iRunFar.com in the process!
2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria Men’s Race
Talk about a dynamic men’s race! Shifting leaders all night and all day long, lots of interplay between competitors within the top 10, and ultimately, a huge number of drops from the race. It was the event that kept us guessing all the way until the end. For the race’s first 30-ish kilometers, a pack of four worked together as the leaders, composed of France’s Aurélien Collet, China’s Yan Long-Fei, Spain’s Iker Karrera, and Norway’s Sondre Amdahl. This group flew, and was immediately well under course-record pace, what would eventually become something like 20 minutes under record pace before halfway. It was an unsustainable pace for sure, as evidenced by the fact that only one of these four men finished, Sondre.
In the 33k aid station, Sondre made a move to break from the group and take the lead, a position he would hold for another 30k. Then, Sondre’s pace yielded at the same time that Yan Long-Fei’s pace accelerated, and Yan took over the lead. Now it was Yan’s turn to lead the field, and he did this from around 62k until around 78k. Around the course’s high point, Pico de las Nieves, Yan suddenly pulled from the race, citing a headache.
That was when Lithuania’s Gediminus Grinius stepped up to the plate and into the lead, a position he would hold all the way until the finish. Gediminus ran what we would call a wise, tempered race. He wasn’t within spitting distance of the men’s top 10 until 30k in, and then he held tight around 10th place and the back half of the top 10 for another 30k. After that, he used about 20k worth of singletrack to make his way into the pole position. Once taking the lead around Pico de las Nieves, just before 80k, he simply stayed enough distance in front of everyone else through the finish. Like clockwork, his win today went.
Norway’s Didrik Hermansen, who finished second, stormed onto the mountain ultrarunning scene today. We’d previously seen him race twice, running in the top 20 in both the 2014 IAU 100k World Championships and Les Templiers in 2014. His performances were solid, but steps below what he did today. Didrik’s race played out a lot like Gediminus’s, where he ran in only the top 20 through about 30k. After that, he, too, slowly worked his way through the men’s field. Didrik used the long descent following the course high point to pass a couple more people, pushing into second place, which he then held through the finish. What a breakout day for Didrik!
France’s Antoine Guillon (post-race interview) ran a bit more aggressively as compared to the other two men on the podium. By 30k, he was already into the top 10, where he would stay all day. Like Didrik, Antoine used the long downhill between 85k and 100k to put the hammer down on some other guys who were suffering, making his way into that final podium spot.
Sondre Amdahl, after his hot early pace in the lead group and in the lead, slowed, regrouped, and soldiered on to fourth place. France’s Cyril Cointre rounded out the top five. The U.S.’s Anton Krupicka (pre-race interview) was in the hunt for almost the entire race. Though he ran, at times, in the back half of the top 10, he was only minutes off the podium. He climbed as high as fourth place right around the race’s high point at Pico de las Nieves. But the late-race heat sapped his strength, and he slowed significantly in the final marathon, yielding a couple spots to finish sixth. Remi Queral (Spain), Freddy Thevenin (France), Marco Zanchi (Italy), and Piotr Hercog (Poland) rounded out the men’s top 10.
2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria Men’s Results
- Gediminus Grinius (Inov-8) – 14:23:27 (post-race interview)
- Didrik Hermansen (ASICS) – 14:30:07
- Antoine Guillon (WAA) – 14:39:35 (post-race interview)
- Sondre Amdahl (GORE) – 15:06:37
- Cyril Cointre (WAA) – 15:28:22
- Anton Krupicka (New Balance) – 15:29:49 (pre-race interview)
- Remi Queral – 15:59:11
- Freddy Thevenin – 16:07:06
- Marco Zanchi – 16:25:13
- Piotr Hercog (Salomon) – 16:30:45
2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria Women’s Race
When Spain’s Núria Picas has a good day, her MO is to start a bit conservative, and let other women do the early leading. Today was no different. Early speedsters and France countrymates Emilie Lecomte and Caroline Chaverot filled that role. While Emilie would withdraw, perhaps succumbing to that hot pace, Caroline persevered on, slowing but not by too much. By 30k into the race, Núria had taken the lead, a spot she wouldn’t relinquish even though there were some 95k’s of racing still to do. She steadily built an almost-30-minute gap over the ladies field, then lost about 12 or 14 minutes of that buffer, then built part of it back again by the finish. We could see that, at times, her effort was a grinding, uncomfortable one, but her overall strength shone through today.
Second place Caroline Chaverot (post-race interview) suffered some mid-race stomach issues, perhaps related to her flying start. But once she got in control of those, she held steady in her podium spot. I’m not sure what was more fascinating to watch in Caroline today: her early confidence or her later regrouping and strength.
Okay, we admit that, by the way China’s Dong Li (post-race interview) was looking with 25k to go, we weren’t sure she would finish. She was hot and exhausted, in fourth position after running most of the race in the back half of the women’s top five. But if there’s anything we know about ultrarunning, it’s that revivals happen all the time, and her late-race performance was certainly one. Not only did she revive enough to finish, but she also climbed onto the podium and finished third. Really impressive, Dong!
Switzerland’s Andrea Huser ran in third place for most of the race. But in the race’s final 25k, she slowed some, allowing for Dong Li to pass her. Brazil’s Manu Vilaseca rounded out the women’s top five. Manu’s race was another well-played one. She ran in the back half of the top 10 for more than the majority of the race, and then squeaked into the top five by staying strong late in the race as others slowed. Spain’s Ester Alves took sixth, Portugal’s Lucinda Sousa was seventh, the U.S.’s Aliza Lapierre (pre-race interview) was eighth, Spain’s Raquel Rivero Delgado was ninth, and Spain’s Silvia Trigueros runs to 10th.
2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria Women’s Results
- Núria Picas (BUFF) – 16:53:27 (post-race interview)
- Caroline Chaverot (Hoke One One) – 17:16:48 (post-race interview)
- Dong Li (Salomon) – 18:15:55 (post-race interview)
- Andrea Huser – 18:37:53
- Manu Vilaseca (The North Face) – 18:42:59
- Ester Alves (Salomon) – 19:11:45
- Lucinda Sousa – 19:25:46
- Aliza Lapierre (Salomon) – 19:58:48 (pre-race interview)
- Raquel Rivero Delgado – 20:24:16
- Silvia Trigueros – 20:38:18
2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
Thank you to Ian Campbell, Miguelito Rodriguez, Travis Trampe, Nick Pedatella, Ellie Greenwood, Mauri Pagliacci, and Andy Jones-Wilkins for their assistance in the field and office in bringing our live Transgrancanaria coverage!