Transgrancanaria 2017 saw plenty of great racing as well as two new champions in Azara García and Pau Capell. The weather was predictably dynamic with a nice start, cold winds in high locations, fog and drizzle at night on the island’s north side, and increasing temps after daybreak on the sunny south side. Read on to find out what happened in the men’s and women’s races.
2017 Trangrancanaria Men’s Race
This year’s Transgrancanaria was dominated by Catalan runner Pau Capell (pre- and post-race interviews). He had a lead from the two-kilometer mark to the finish. He did see his 10-minute lead disappear when he took a wrong turn after Fontanales (43 kilometers) at which point he briefly ran with Lithuania’s Vaidas Žlabys (post-race interview) before re-establishing a lead that he’d never relinquish.
Žlabys went out hard, sticking near Diego Pazos of Switzerland and Spanish runner Jordi Gamito. By Fontanales at 43 kilometers, Žlabys and Pazos were together in second with Gamito in fourth and Maxime Cazajous who’d consistently moved himself up in the field through the race’s first half.
Cruz de Tejeda at 67 kilometers saw teammates Pazos and Gamito come through together in second, while Cazajous had moved up to fourth and Žlabys had fallen back to fifth about four minutes behind second. That would all change by the next checkpoint, Roque Nublo, 12 kilometers later, where Žlabys was again in second, Gamito in third, Pazos in fourth, and Cazajous in fifth… and switching wasn’t done yet!
It’s true that Žlabys would hold on to second throughout the rest of the race, but three other runners would hold onto third. Gamito would run in third for some time before dropping back to fifth suddenly on his way to the race’s final checkpoint at Parque Sur only 3.5 kilometers from the finish. Similarly, Cazajous ran in fourth all the way past Parque Sur.
What they didn’t see coming was the Didrik Hermansen (pre- and post-race interviews) train. The Norwegian moved up throughout the race. He was in 19th at the first checkpoint 10 kilometers into the race and still in 13th at the 33-kilometer mark. Then eighth, sixth, seventh, fifth… and, finally, third, as the later stages of the course suited Didrik’s speed almost as well this year as they did last year.
Gamito would move up again in the race’s final few kilometers to join Cazaous as they tied for fourth.
Spanish runner Anthony Gay ran in the back half of the top ten all day, holding sixth for the last third of the race. Benoît Girondel of France was brilliant in his methodical advancement through the field. Runner by runner, he moved himself up from the mid-teens to finish seventh. After challenging at the front of the race through mid-race, Diego Pazos gradually dropped back to finish eighth. The U.K.’s Andy Symonds slowly worked his way up to seventh through the first half of the race before slowly falling back to ninth in the race’s later stages. With a few wiggles up and down along the way, Timothy Olson of the U.S. ran near tenth through the entire race, which is where he ended up.
In a rare occurrence for an ultra of this sort, there were no prominent DNFs among the early frontrunners, although, of course, there were some a bit further back in the field.
2017 Transgrancanaria Men’s Results
- 1. Pau Capell (The North Face) — 13:21:03 (pre- and post-race interview)
2. Vaidas Žlabys (Thermowave) — 13:35:38 (post-race interview)
3. Didrik Hermansen (ASICS) — 13:50:06 (pre and post-race interview)
T-4. Jordi Gamito (Compressport) — 13:53:53
T-4. Maxime Cazajous (Hoka One One) — 13:53:54
6. Anthony Gay (Oxsitis) — 14:08:46
7. Benoît Girondel (ASICS)– 14:13:27
8. Diego Pazos (Compressport) — 14:17:00 (pre-race interview)
9. Andy Symonds (SCOTT) — 14:18:38
10. Timothy Olson (The North Face) — 14:22:40
2017 Transgrancanaria Women’s Race
Azara García (post-race interview). Full stop. She dominated this year’s race much like Caroline Chaverot did last year and Núria Picas did in 2014. She held the lead from go and didn’t look back on her way to winning by the better part of an hour in what was her first race of 100 kilometers or more. As reference from the men’s field, she moved up from the mid-5os position-wise in the first third of the race to finish 35th overall.
While Andrea Huser (pre- and post-race interviews) of Switzerland repeated her second-place finish, it didn’t look that way early on. She started out in the back part of the women’s top ten and came into Fontanales (43 kilometers) together in fifth with another runner more than half an hour after García and ten minutes behind fourth place. From there, she steadily worked her way up.
France’s Mélanie Rousset (post-race interview) and Kristin Berglund of Sweden were both on strong, but slightly different trajectories through the day. Berglund went out a bit harder, running a spot in front of Rousset until the pair left Fontanales together with Mercedes Pila of Ecudaor. Rousset would move ahead in the kilometers that followed, with the pair finishing in third and fourth.
In fifth, Ildikó Wermescher played Ms. Pacman all race long. She ended the first climb at Tamadaba in 264th overall. She would finish 67th. Pila, who briefly battled for second, hung on to finish sixth. France’s Juliette Blanchet moved up through the field early in the race, coming into Fontanales in fifth with Huser, before fading a bit to take seventh. Lisa Borzani of Italy ran a solid race on her way to eighth, while Frenchwoman Laetitia Pibis charge up through the field to take ninth. Manuela Vilaseca, a Brazilian living in Catalunya, ran a consistently near tenth position, which is where she ended up.
2017 Transgrancanaria Women’s Results
- Azara García (Inov-8/Tuga) — 16:25:20 (post-race interview)
- Andrea Huser (Mammut) — 17:15:45 (pre- and post-race interviews)
- Mélanie Rousset (WAA) — 17:30:40 (post-race interview)
- Kristin Berglund (Salomon) — 18:00:04
- Ildikó Wermescher (Mammut) — 18:17:43
- Mercedes Pila — 18:40:01
- Juliette Blanchet (Vibram) — 18:59:26
- Lisa Borzani (Tecnica) — 19:02:13
- Laetitia Pibis — 19:09:46
- Manuela Vilaseca (BUFF) — 19:36:25
Thanks to Miguelito once again for his Canarian hospitality while driving me around Gran Canaria and assisting with coverage, while Foncho added his local expertise of Gran Canaria, as he did last year.