The Transvulcania Ultramarathon has consistently yielded top competition in its six previous runnings, and this year will be no different. Last year’s champion, Luis Alberto Hernando, and more than half of last year’s men’s top 10 return for more. They will be chased by a previous champ, Dakota Jones, as well as a massive group of international talent including Tòfol Castanyer, Ryan Sandes, Timothy Olson, and others. The 45.5-mile (73.3-kilometer) race sports 13,600 feet (4,100 meters) of climb that ascends, traverses, and descends the major volcano making up the island of La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands. Being that this is also the first race in the Ultra category of the Skyrunner World Series, runners will be on the hunt for series points. Runners are also expecting plenty of tropical-island sun!
iRunFar will cover Transvulcania live starting at 6 a.m. local time (WEST) on Saturday, May 9, which is 11 p.m. (MDT) on Friday, May 8 in the U.S.
Read our Transvulcania women’s preview to see which leading ladies will be racing.
iRunFar’s coverage of the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon is brought to you by Salomon. Gracias, Salomon!
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Top 10 Returnees
Here are the six men returning from last year’s top 10:
1 – Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) (pre-race interview) – Make no mistake, Luis Alberto Hernando is on fire, and nearly untouchable at every race he starts. Since his ultramarathon debut here two years ago, where he finished second to Kilian Jornet, Luis’s resume has looked like this: winner of the 2013 Trans d’Havet, second at the 2013 Matterhorn Ultraks, winner of the 2013 Ultra Pirineu, winner of the 2014 Transvulcania, winner of the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships Ultra category, and winner of the 2014 Ultra Pirineu. This guy is a trip, totally professional and machine-like–with little derivation from full steam ahead and looking good–from start to finish. There are a lot of guys who would like to beat Luis, and a few of them have the talent to do so. But will they?
4 – Tòfol Castanyer (Spain) – Tòfol has the street cred to challenge Luis Alberto Hernando. In 2013, Tòfol took second at Ultra Pirineu, just a couple minutes behind Luis Alberto Hernando. In 2014, he had a number of huge performances, fourth here at TVU, a tie for second at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (post-race interview), and a fourth at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. I look forward to seeing what he does with his 2015. [May 7 Update: Tòfol Castanyer will not be running Transvulcania this year due to an illness.]
7 – Manuel Merillas (Spain) – After finishing seventh here last year, Manuel went on to finish third in the Skyrunner World Series Ultra category with his performance here plus a fifth at Ice Trail Tarentaise, second at Trofeo Kima, and third at The Rut 50k (post-race interview).
8 – Timothy Olson (USA) – Prior to eighth here last year, Timothy took the last spot on the podium at the 2014 Transgrancanaria. His other 2014 high was a 10th place at TNF EC 50-Mile Championships. Timothy also suffered through a painful, outside-the-top-10 finish of the 2014 Hardrock 100. Timothy’s been doing things differently with his training lately–more intervals and less volume–so I’m eager to see how his race plays out.
9 – Pablo Villa (Spain) – His top-10 finish here last year was definitely his strongest finish ever among an incredibly strong field. The only other serious international result to his name is a fourth at the 2012 TDS, a UTMB sister race.
10 – Dakota Jones (USA) (pre-race interview) – Dakota is one of those silent killers. He’s quiet on social media, a little shy in person, and when he has a good day on the trail, he sneaks up and annihilates everyone. Since taking second at the super-stacked 2014 TNF EC 50-Mile Championships (post-race interview), Dakota’s gone dormant mostly from racing. He’s been on La Palma training for several weeks now, and that included winning a local trail marathon, Reventón Trail El Paso, as a training run. As a previous Transvulcania winner, in 2012 (post-race interview), he’s probably real hungry for another big win or podium spot.
Potential Top-Five Finishers
These are the men we think can finish in the top five:
When South Africa’s Ryan Sandes (pre-race interview) signs up for a race, you can expect him to train, prepare, and execute it with 100% professionalism. His 2014 top performances included a win at Transgrancanaria (post-race interview), an expedition on and FKT of the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (post-event interview), a second at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji (post-race interview), and a fifth at the Western States 100. Phew! I expect he’ll take a slightly more conservative start than the guns off the front, but that we’ll see him in podium contention in the race’s final third.
All guts, this kid. Zach Miller (USA) (pre-race interview) could win Transvulcania. In 2013, he exploded onto the ultra scene with a 5:38 win of the JFK 50 Mile (post-race interview), then followed that up with a rabbit-off-the-front-sticks-it win of the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile (post-race interview). Though he was brand new to long-distance trail running then, these races showed the depth of his potential. I don’t think his results from the second half of 2014 match his early, standout ultras: fifth at the Grande Course des Templiers, ninth at the IAU 100k World Championships, and 11th at the TNF EC 50-Mile Championships. The technicality of Templiers taught him a lesson, that he needs to keep eating and drinking because it takes a lot longer to cover that kind of ground. If Zach brings a rested body and a mind ready to race smart, he’s got the talent and skill set to win.
When Miguel Heras (Spain) turns up at a race, his M.O. is to go for it from ‘go.’ When this turns out, he ends up with superior results, such as his win of the 2012 TNF EC 50-Mile Championships and his second place at the 2013 UTMB (post-race interview). In 2013, Miguel was also third at Ultra Pirineu, four minutes back of winner Luis Alberto Hernando and less than two minutes off second place Tòfol Castanyer. Miguel was sixth at the 2014 Grande Course des Templiers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jorge Maravilla (USA) is due for a big, big result. With a series of strong performances over the last several years, he’s placed himself in the upper echelon of North American trail ultrarunners. And then, in just the last six months, he’s gone seventh at TNF EC 50-Mile Championships, second at the Tarawera Ultra (post-race interview), fourth at the competitive Way Too Cool 50k, and fourth at the hyper-stacked Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. He races roads now and again, and he turned in a speedy 2:26 at the San Luis Obispo Marathon two weekends again. When, oh when, is Jorge gonna’ blow things out of the water and win one of these things? [Update May 5: Jorge Maravilla is not racing.]
The USA’s Mike Foote has had an up and down last 18 months or so, though much more up than down: third in a competitive 2014 Moab Red Hot 55k, third at the 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji behind second place Ryan Sandes, second at the 2014 Lavaredo Ultra Trail, a DNF at the 2014 UTMB, a course-record win at the competitive 2014 Moab Trail Marathon, and a 13th at the 2014 TNF EC-Mile Championships. Last fall, Mike said he was going into 2015 with a more professional approach to his training and racing, and I look forward to seeing how that manifests.
Jason Schlarb’s (USA) top 2014 result was his fourth place at UTMB (post-race interview), behind tied-for-second-place Tòfol Castanyer. The rest of his year, on paper, was, let’s call it alright. He was 16th here last year, way back at the Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category, and a gutsy 10th at Diagonale des Fous (post-race report). When Jason is ‘on,’ he’s on. If he has one of those days on Saturday, look for him to be patient early and stronger and stronger as the race goes on.
We’re just rolling out the Americans here, yeah? The USA’s Paul Hamilton should do really well at this race. He’s got the perfect skill set and racing background to kill this. In 2014, he was second at the competitive Moab Red Hot 55k, winner of the burly San Juan Solstice 50 Mile, second at the uber-competitive and burly Speedgoat 50k (post-race interview), and fifth at The Rut 50k. Anyone want to take a guess how things will pan out for him?
Dimitris Theodorakakos (Greece) is a road runner turned trail runner who has yet to race trails among a competitive international field. I am fascinated to see how his race goes this weekend. Dimitris appears to have 1:08 half marathon and 2:19 marathon PRs, and he comes out on the top of pretty much every trail race he starts in Greece.
A passel of men who can finish in the top 10:
Cristofer Clemente (Spain) was ninth at the 2013 Transvulcania. In 2014, he finished third at the Transgrancanaria Advanced 82k and second at the Zugspitz Ultratrail. Earlier this year, he was third at the MSIG Sai Kung 50k.
Aurélien Collet’s (France) top international performance came last fall when he was third at Diagonale des Fous. In 2013, he was third at both the CCC, a UTMB sister race, and Grande Course des Templiers.
A prolific racer, Fulvio Dapit’s (Italy) best results in the last 18 months were a fifth place in the 2014 Skyrunner World Series Ultra category, in which he gained most of his points through a fourth at Ice Trail Tarentaise, a sixth at Trofeo Kima, and ninth at The Rut 50k. Fulvio finished 19th at the 2014 Transvulcania.
Australian Blake Hose has a stout sixth place at the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category to his name. This year so far, he’s been fourth at the MSIG Saig Kung 50k, a couple minutes back of third place Cristopher Clemente, and he won the Buffalo Stampede Marathon, part of the Skyrunning Oceania Continental Championship, by almost a minute per mile. Blake is young and on a skyward trajectory with his running right now.
I really don’t know how France’s Christophe Le Saux does it. He’s France’s Michael Wardian, in that’s he’s constantly racing, all over the planet, with strong results. His best results from the last year are a tie for third at the 2014 Tor des Géants and a seventh place at the 2015 Marathon des Sables.
Clement Petitjean (France) should push the field, too. He was fifth at the 2014 Annecy Maxi Race, fourth at the Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category, and eighth at the Grande Course des Templiers.
This is Philipp Reiter’s (Germany) fourth time running Transvulcania. He’s been 11th in 2012, 12th in 2013, and 12th in 2014. In 2014, he was also fifth at the Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category. [Update May 5: Philipp Reiter is not racing.]
In 2014, Carlos Sá’s (Portugal) best marks were a fourth at the Marathon des Sables, third at the Badwater Ultramarathon, and eighth at UTMB. He just finished the 2015 Marathon des Sables way back, though, so I’m not sure where he is health- and fitness-wise, right now.
Other Runners to Watch
Still more men to keep your eyes on:
- Josh Arthur (USA) – 2nd 2014 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile, finished off his potential and 35th overall here last year
- Pau Capell (Spain) – Winner 2015 Transgrancanaria Advanced 82k
- Oscar Casal Mir (Spain) – 7th 2014 Matterhorn Ultraks
- Marc Casal Mir (Andorra) – 21st 2014 Transvulcania
- Jamil Coury (USA) – Two-time Barkley Marathons “Fun Run” finisher, 2nd 2014 San Diego 100 Mile
Dan Doherty (Ireland) – 3rd 2014 Zugspitz Ultratrail, 6th 2014 Tor des Géants[Update 5/4: Dan Doherty is not racing.]
- Aurélien Dunand Pallaz (France) – 7th 2013 CCC, a sister race to UTMB, 7th 2014 Skyrunning World Championships Ultra category
- Jessed Hernández (Spain) – Podium finisher in many shorter-distance mountain races in Spain
- Vlad Ixel (Australia) – Lives in Hong Kong and dominates whatever he runs in Asia and Oceania, 12th 2014 Ice Trail Tarentaise
- Timothy Parr (USA) – 3rd 2014 Imogene Pass Run
- Catlow Shipek (USA) – 7th 2014 Speedgoat 50k, 8th 2014 The Rut 50k, winner 2014 Javelina Jundred
- Marcin Świerc (Poland) – 14th 2014 Transvulcania, 9th 2014 Grande Course des Templiers
- Brendan Trimboli (USA) – 2nd 2014 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile behind winner Paul Hamilton
Jeremy Wolf (USA) – 11th 2015 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile[Update May 6: Jeremy Wolf is not racing.]
Call for Comments
- Let’s see your top 10 men’s picks. Who will have the perfect day? Who will breakthrough with their performance?
- Have you raced Transvulcania before? What do you think of the course?
- Is there anyone that we have missed? Let us know in the comments!