Runners and spectators alike were treated to great conditions at Transgrancanaria 2016. With an 11 p.m. start, runners faced 8 or 9 hours of cool temperatures with the occasional run through a cloud before a moderately warm day with some clouds and some breezes. These conditions along with a slightly shorter course, even if over more technical last 20 kilometers, made for some fast finishes at the front of the men’s and women’s field, including both winners–Didrik Hermansen (pre- and post-race interviews) and Caroline Chaverot (pre- and post-race interviews). That said, there were plenty who didn’t fare so well over the relentless 125-kilometer course with more than 26,000′ (8,000m) of climbing. Let’s see how things shook out.
2016 Transgrancanaria Men’s Race
With as deep a field as Transgrancanaria had on the men’s side, you expect a large pack to go out together and last at least until 30 kilometers. That more or less happened… except that France’s Aurélien Collet went off the front and stayed there… for a very long time. In fact, his early breakaway looked like it might hold as he had a two-to-four-minute lead for most of the race until… well, I’m getting ahead of myself.
By the marathon mark, a chase group of four runners seemed to solidify: Gediminas Grinius (last year’s champ) (pre- and post-race interviews), Andy Symonds, Diego Pazos, and Pau Capell. Plenty of top talent, including Yan Long-Fei, Jonas Buud, Didrik Hermansen, and Julien Chorier, chased within 12 minutes of the lead. Long-Fei would drop soon after with an ankle injury.
Grinius continued to lead the chase pack with Symonds, Pazos, and Capell bouncing around behind him. Hermansen and Buud had been running together, but Hermansen pulled away from Swede and started making up ground on the chase pack. He caught Symonds not long after mid-race as the Brit suffered from cramping.
At the head of the race, Collet still led at Tunte (94km), but he looked worked. Only three minutes back was Norway’s Hermansen. As I wrote at the time, Hermansen was “leading from behind.” There was no doubt that he would catch the Frenchman. His only likely remaining challenger for the win would be the Lithuanian, Grinius, who appeared to be battling… looking strong, but not without strain. Hermansen, on the other hand, looked fluid and at ease. However, both men later recounted passing one another multiple times with Didrik having the advantage on the descents and Gediminas on the climbs. Diego Pazos and Pau Capell rather through Tunte together, as they would for the rest of the race. Two thirds of the way into the race and you start to see the cream rise to the top with the likes of Symonds, Buud, and Chorier running in sixth through eighth.
Moving ahead to Ayagaures, 107 kilometers into the race and we saw the first lead change. Having moved up from running in the teens early on, Hermansen had the lead with Grinius only two minutes back. Collet now ran in third, but had given up 8 minutes in 14 kilometers… his race would get uglier from there. With Capell and Pazos 18 minutes in arrears in Ayagaures, it was a two man race.
As he’d been doing so for some time, Hermansen continued to outrun Gediminas on the descents that dominated the race’s final 18 kilometers (although he felt pressure on the 3-kilometer climb out of Ayagaures) and won in 13:41, four minutes ahead of Grinius. Compressport teammates Capell and Pazos moved up a spot to tie for third. Andy Symonds managed to control his cramps to end up in fifth. The biggest surprise in the top ten was Lithuania’s Vaidas Zlabys, who took eighth, a marked improvement over his 36th-place finish at last year’s Transgrancanaria. While long-time leader Collet imploded after Ayagaures, he did walk it in to finish in 19th.
2016 Transgrancanaria Men’s Results
- 1. Didrik Hermansen (ASICS) – 13:41:48 (pre- and post-race interviews)
- 2. Gediminas Grinius (Vibram) – 13:45:08 (pre- and post-race interviews)
- T-3. Pau Capell (Compressport) – 14:11:02
- T-3. Diego Pazos (Compressport) – 14:11:02
- 5. Andy Symonds (SCOTT) – 14:14:55
- 6. Jonas Buud (ASICS) – 14:21:39
- 7. Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) – 14:24:59
- 8. Vaidas Zlabys (Salming) – 14:30:17
- 9. Javi Dominguez (Vibram) – 14:39:46
- 10. Jordi Gamito (WAA) – 14:48:27
2016 Transgrancanaria Women’s Race
On the women’s side, it was quite simply the Caroline Chaverot show. Throughout the race she put more or less one minute per kilometer on the next closest women. Early in the race that included two-time defending champ Núria Picas (pre-race interview), but she retired with an injury at Artenara, 34 kilometers into the race. After that, Chaverot looked untouchable. She always looked as strong or stronger than the ladies behind her and she continued to build her massive lead en route to a two-hour win. It was domination, pure and simple.
Behind Chaverot, ran Switzerland’s Andrea Huser (post-race interview) and Basque runner Uxue Fraile (post-race interview). The two actually ran together for a decent stretch, as the two have done in other races, before the Swiss woman opened a small lead that she’d hold until the finish. Fraile overcame a pre-race lack of confidence, based on a less-than-stellar run at TGC two years ago when it was her longest race to date, to take third.
Although Silvia Trigueros managed to put a scare into Fraile mid-race, she would finish more than an hour back… and just ahead of four other women who would finish within 15 minutes of her. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the top ten was Argentina’s Adrianna Vargas’s fifth place finish with a very consistent race. Her previous international highlights included a 14th at Transvulcania in 2014 and finishing between 25th and 25th at the two most recent IAU Trail World Championships. Notably, last year’s third-place woman Dong Li refused to drop out and finished ninth.
2016 Transgrancanaria Women’s Results
- Caroline Chaverot (Hoka One One) – 15:23:40 (pre- and post-race interviews)
- Andrea Huser (Mammut) – 17:21:43 (post-race interview)
- Uxue Fraile (Vibram) – 17:28:05 (post-race interview)
- Silvia Trigueros (Race Land) – 18:31:54
- Adriana Vargas (Salomon) – 18:35:21
- Sophie Grant (Serpentine) – 18:43:22
- Alexandra Clain – 18:43:24
- Lucinda Sousa – 18:46:42
- Dong Li (Salomon) – 19:20:40
- Denise Zimmermann (Salomon) – 19:49:05
Call for Comments
- What did you think of this year’s Transgrancanaria?
- Which runners surprised you?
Thanks to Ian Campbell, Miguelito Rodriguez, and Alfonso García Clemente for helping with our live coverage on Gran Canaria and for Mauri Pagliacci and Daní Torres assisting with the live coverage and making our @iRunFarES coverage possible.