Once again, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon will be an early season highlight of the European ultrarunning calendar. A stacked field of men’s will challenge one another for 46 miles (74.3km) up and over the island of La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands with the race totaling 14,000′ of climb. Among the favorites in this year’s race are Luis Alberto Hernando, who’s won Transvulcania the past two years, and Sage Canaday, who was on the podium here in 2013 and 2014. Many more standouts from around the world will join them on the starting line.
Also, make sure to check out our women’s preview for the rest of what’s in store at Transvulcania!
iRunFar will cover Transvulcania live starting at 6 a.m. local time (WEST) on Saturday, May 7, which is 11 p.m. (MDT) on Friday, May 6 in the U.S. Stay tuned!
Contenders for the Win
Luis Alberto Hernando (pre-race interview) for the win? While he’s not a sure bet, he’s the easy bet. He’s won Transvulcania the past two years (2014 & 2015) and, now, owns the course record up and over La Palma. Since his last win at TVU, Hernando finished his first 100 miler, taking second at last year’s UTMB.
Sage Canaday (pre-race interview) challenged Luis Alberto and Kilian Jornet for solid stints in both the 2013 and 2014 editions of the race only to have the duo catch him prior to the primary summit before losing further time on the descent. After a year away from the race, he’s back to give it another go with a big win at The North Face 50 in December 2014 showing his 50-mile strength. After focusing on the marathon for awhile, he won the Black Canyon 100k in February.
Sylvain Court (pre-race interview) had by far his best result in winning last year’s IAU Trail World Championships in Annecy, France. But for this result, I don’t think I’d include Court as a possible winner, but he did beat out runner-up Hernando in that win. His next best race over the past few years might be taking second to his countryman Benoît Cori at Les Templiers in 2014.
Benoît Cori’s back-to-back wins at Les Templiers certainly requires one to consider him for the win at TVU. After Templiers last October, Cori went on to win the 72-kilometer La SainteLyon. Earlier last year, he was 13th at the IAU Trail World Championships. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Cori ever racing an ultra outside of France.
The Next Level
It’s worth noting that behind Hernando, only two of last year’s top ten men will be returning to Transvulcania this year. Cristofer Clemente leads this group with his seventh-place finish last year, when he was less than four minutes behind Dakota Jones and fourth place. Indeed, he was only 11 minutes behind runner-up Dani Garcia. Cristofer was ninth at TVU back in 2013. Last year, he was also second at The Run 50k and fifth at Ultra Pirineu.
Adam Campbell (pre-race interview) is racing! Adam is familiar with racing in La Palma, as he was here in 2013 and had an, ahem, let’s call it a rough day. Now he’s back and ready to give it a whirl again. In 2015, he notably took third at the Hardrock 100 Mile and 12th at The Rut 50k. He should be in the mix so long as the Canadian coming off winter can cope with the island’s tropical heat and humidity. [Added May 2, 11:30 a.m. MDT]
Julien Coudert took ninth last year, 20 minutes behind sixth place, in what is easily his best ultrarunning performance I can find. Perhaps La Palma is his happy place.
Frenchman Nicolas Martin had a wonderful 2015. He was second at Les Templiers and third at CCC along with placing seventh at the IAU Trail World Championships. While he’s raced ultras at a high level since at least 2010, this was certainly his strongest season.
After battling plenty of injury issues, Miguel Heras had a strong end to 2015 taking third at Ultra Pirineu and fourth at Les Templiers. A few years ago, he might have been able to pull off a big win at a race like Transvulcania–he did win The North Face 50 Mile Championships in 2012, but he’s not shown a flash like that in a few years.
Andy Symonds had a couple down years on the running front, but he’s shown he’s back over the past year. Most notably, he was third at the Mont Blanc 80km last June and fifth at Transgrancanaria in early March.
It’s just about time that Jorge Maravilla takes a big one. Over the previous five years at the TNF Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships he’s gone from 19th to 16th to 7th twice before taking fourth last December. In March, he was second at the Way Too Cool 50k, dropping nearly 7 minutes off his time from last year in much tougher conditions. Last year, he was also fourth at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and Way Too Cool along with a runner-up finish to Dylan Bowman at the Tarawera 100k. Update May 2, 11:30 a.m. MDT: Jorge Maravilla isn’t racing.
Zaid Ait Malek showed off his speed for the few years in shorter trail races and is now finding his groove when it comes to ultramarathons. He won Matterhorn Ultraks, a 46km race, in 2014 and took second at the 110-kilometer Ultra Pirineu last September. He also might be the only guy who can challenge Mr. Maravilla for brightest smile on the course.
Aurelien Collet won the Endurance Trail des Templiers and the Ultra Trail des 4 Massifs last year after taking third at Diagonale des Fous late in 2014.
One of the top Canarians in the field is Yeray Duran, who beat plenty of strong runners to take fourth, third, and fourth at Transgrancanaria between 2012 and 2014. This year, he was 18th at the race. In his only Transvulcania finish, he was 24th in 2012. Duran took fifth earlier this year at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k, after tying for the same position at Ultra Pirineu last September.
Chris Vargo was ripping up the trails in 2013 and a good part of 2014 before things went very wrong wiping out his entire 2015 season. In early April, Vargo dipped his toe back into racing with a course record-setting win at the long-running Crown King Scramble 50k in Arizona, so he may be returning to the form that earned him third-place at the 2013 TNF 50 Mile Championships.
As always, Vajin Armstrong had a strong run at this year’s Tarawera Ultramarathon in taking fifth after placing fourth a year earlier. Last year, this Kiwi also took 6th at TNF100-Australia.
I’m not really sure where Ricky Lightfoot fits into the mix this weekend. He won a number of smaller races in 2015 after taking sixth at the TNF 50 in San Francisco late in 2014. That sixth at the TNF 50 suggests that he can place just as high on La Palma considering he was beat out by Sage Canaday, Dakota Jones, Alex Varner, Tofol Canstanyer, and Dylan Bowman.
Pau Bartolo’s 2016 season got off to a shaky start when he dropped from the Vibram Hong Kong 100k. Still, he put up a respectable 2015 with win at TDS, a sixth at Tarawera, and ninth at TNF100-Australia. However, none of that matches his win at CCC in 2014. Pau was 14th at Transvulcania in 2013.
Just two year’s ago, Germany’s Stephan Hugenschmidt took fifth at Transvulcania. Later that year, he won the Zugspitz Ultratrail and TransAlpine Run. He’s continued racking up wins at lesser know races since then.
Other Notable Men
- Ion Azpiroz – 14th at UTMB 2015
- Bruno Brunod – The legendary Italian skyrunner will hit the trails of La Palma
- Fulvio Dapit – 11th Les Templiers 2014; 4th Ice Trail Tarentaise 2014
- Remigio Huamán – 1st TNF Endurance Challenge Chile 80k 2014
- Vlad Ixel – Metric ton of wins in regional Asian races; 12th Ice Trail Tarentaise 2014
- Gerard Morales – 7th Ultra Pirineu 2015; 12th Transgrancanaria 2016
- Florian Reichert – 9th Marathon de Mont Blanc 2014
- Marcin Świerc – 14th Transvulcania 2014; 15th Transvulcania 2015; 4th Mont Blanc 80km 2015
- Marco Zanchi – 14th Vibram Hong Kong 100k 2016, 9th Transgrancanaria 2015
Entered But Not Racing
- Dani García
- Paul Hamilton
- Manuel Merillas
- Dimitris Theodorakakos
- Xavier Thevenard
- Mike Wolfe
Call for Comments
- Who’s going to win Transvulcania this year?
- Any surprises in store for the podium?
- Who else should we all know about before the race?
- If we mentioned someone who’s definitely not racing, let us know!