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2020 Transgrancanaria Results

The 2020 Transgrancanaria crowned a new champion in the women’s race with the USA’s Kaytlyn Gerbin, who improved upon her second-place finish from last year. The women’s race for the podium was tighter than the men’s, with China’s Fuzhao Xiang arriving in a strong second and Spain’s Azara García in third, all three finishing within 17 minutes of each other.

The men’s race saw a tie for the win between Spaniards Pau Capell and Pablo Villa. For Capell it was his fourth-straight win at Transgrancanaria and for the pair it was a finish that mirrored a race they spent running together for the most part. The USA’s Dylan Bowman worked his way up throughout the race, eventually onto the men’s podium in third.

This year’s 128-kilometer route was quite different from years past due to a couple necessary course changes, including because of damage to the previous course by a 2019 wildfire. What was the same, however, was the 11 p.m. local time Friday night start and the Saturday afternoon finish for the leaders. The weather was also quite typical for spring on the Canary Islands, with cool temperatures at night (we saw temperatures as cold as 4 degrees Celsius [39F] just before dawn) and, then, full sun and warm temperatures by day. And, you can’t forget that always-present island humidity.

Thanks to Vert.Run for supporting our coverage of Transgrancanaria.

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The start of Transgrancanaria 2020. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

2020 Transgrancanaria Men’s Race

A tie for the win! Pau Capell (pre-race and post-race interviews) was simply the favorite among the group of top runners, with his three previous victories here plus the last couple years he’s had in mountain ultramarathons in general. But what’s so great about ultrarunning is that… it’s ultrarunning. There are hours and mountains and the night and the sun and so many variables that come into play. Oh, and there’s Pablo Villa (pre-race and post-race interviews), too. The pair of Spaniards went off the start line and stuck among the lead group right away, at times setting the group’s pace. Also in that lead group was the USA’s Jared Hazen (pre-race interview) and China’s Peiquan You. This foursome remained together until somewhere after the race’s marathon point, while a long string of men trailed behind them.

At the race’s halfway point distance-wise, 64 kilometers in, Capell and Villa arrived as a pair in the lead, but only by two minutes because Hazen was still giving close chase. You was now out of the picture and he’d drop not long later. Unfortunately, the next 10 kilometers would take their toll on Hazen as he got off course and lost contact with the lead. From there, Hazen only fell back further in the field before ultimately dropping not long after.

From 64 kilometers until the 128-kilometer finish, it was Capell and Villa running basically with or near each other. Here and there the pair separated by up to a few minutes, but they always seemed to come back together again. At the 110-kilometer aid station, when Capell was ready to leave a bit sooner than Villa, he waited. Clearly, they were now traveling as a unit and that’s how it would go all the way to the finish.

Pablo Villa (left) and Pau Capell after tying for the win at the 2020 Transgrancanaria.

Dylan Bowman (post-race interview) of the USA was the comeback kid of this race. After a rough year-plus health-wise with injury and physical issues, he’s back. He seemed to take things out a bit conservatively, but wanting to remain not too far off the leaders. It looked quite intentional, thus, that he hovered just outside the race’s top five for its first half. Bowman has raced Transgrancanaria before, and so he knows the difficult terrain that’s presented to runners about two thirds of the way through the race, the rough-and-tumble high volcanic section plus a long descent afterward. It was in this difficult stuff that Bowman moved up into third place, a position he’d hold until the finish.

Dylan Bowman and Harry Jones leaving Artenara together at 64 kilometers into the race.

Like Dylan Bowman, the U.K.’s Harry Jones hovered in relative contact with the leaders for many of the race’s early kilometers. Bowman and Jones even looked to have teamed up for some time mid-race. On the long descent from the high country, though, the pair spread out and Jones settled into fourth position. France’s Lambert Santelli also had a strong race, like Bowman and Jones running a bit back from the lead but right around fifth position from very early on–and a position he’d be in at the finish.

Lambert Santelli after finishing fifth.

2020 Transgrancanaria Men’s Results

  • T-1. Pau Capell (The North Face) – 13:04:10 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  • T-1. Pablo Villa (adidas Terrex) – 13:04:10 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  • 3. Dylan Bowman (The North Face) – 13:40:28 (post-race interview)
  • 4. Harry Jones (Hoka One One) – 13:57:32
  • 5. Lambert Santelli – 14:25:23
  • 6. Diego Pazos (Compressport) – 14:38:45
  • 7. Gediminas Grinius (Vibram) – 14:41:57
  • 8. Luís Fernandes – 14:53:41
  • 9. Estanislao Rivero (Dynafit) – 14:56:36
  • 10. Marcos Ramos – 15:11:41

Full results.

Gediminas Grinius running trough the town of Tejeda which is 74 kilometers into the race.

2020 Transgrancanaria Women’s Race

Last year, the USA’s Kaytlyn Gerbin (pre-race and post-race interviews) took second at Transgrancanaria. This year, she improved a spot to take the win and finished at the front of a relatively tight race for the podium and a fascinating race dynamic. Let’s dig in. It was actually Spain’s Azara García (post-race interview) who led out the women’s race with what felt like a quiet confidence. She was calm and direct in her aid-station stops with her crew, which made it look like the race was coming easy to her. The same seemed almost certain to be true for Gerbin, too, perhaps even more so. Here we also add to the mix France’s Audrey Tanguy (pre-race interview), who was helping to pace set near the front of the women’s race early on.

So, we had García off the front pretty much straightaway, with Tanguy playing immediate chase through at least 27 kilometers into the race, where the pair passed through the aid station one-two and within one minute of each other. However, over the next 13 kilometers, García opened things up and no one was within 6.5 minutes of her at 40 kilometers in. As it turns out, this would be about her biggest lead because over the next 24 kilometers or so, Gerbin reduced her 11.5-minute time gap to García to just 1.5 minutes. A chase was on.

Azara García leading the women’s race in Teror (28 kilometers).

Around this same time, the race’s halfway point, Tanguy began to drop back from the very front of the race and Fuzhao Xiang (pre-race and post-race interviews) of China started to move up from her earlier position just outside the top five. However, there was a lot of racing to go as the women climbed up into, around, and down from Gran Canaria’s volcanic highlands, often where races are made or lost at Transgrancanaria.

When the women came off the highlands, the race had a new leader in Gerbin, a position she’d hold through the finish line. And the podium race wasn’t yet decided either, as on the long descent to 110 kilometers, Xiang and García switched spots, into second and third positions, which they’d keep until the finish. As much as Gerbin, Xiang, and García kept a relatively tight race between them, they also blew apart the rest of the women’s field. With 20 kilometers to go, the lead-three women had had already created an hour-plus gap on fourth place and the rest of the women’s field, and they’d widen it to 90 minutes by the finish. This trio was certainly in their own performance universe today.

Kaytlyn Gerbin after winning Transgrancanaria 2020.

Fuzhao Xiang finishing in second.

Tanguy slowed significantly in the race’s second half, but clearly used her strength to stay in the top five, ultimately taking fourth. Spain’s Clàudia Tremps finished fifth while running evenly within the middle to the back half of the top 10 all race long. With this finish, Tremps continues her ascendent efforts at mountain ultras over the last few years.

Clàudia Tremps running in Tejeda (74 kilometers).

Sweden’s Mimmi Kotka factored into the first half of the race when she was running just inside the top five. However, she would DNF following a painful fall.

2020 Transgrancanaria Women’s Results

  1. Kaytlyn Gerbin (The North Face) – 15:14:39 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  2. Fuzhao Xiang (Hoka One One) – 15:25:40 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  3. Azara García (Sport HG) – 15:31:36 (post-race interview)
  4. Audrey Tanguy (Hoka One One) – 16:59:15 (pre-race interview)
  5. Clàudia Tremps (Columbia) – 17:21:29
  6. Kaci Lickteig (Hoka One One) – 18:39:51
  7. Andrea Huser (Hoka One One) – 18:44:02
  8. Leire Martínez (Sport HG) – 18:46:38
  9. Ildikó Wermescher (Hoka One One) – 19:44:36
  10. Myvanwy Hanna – 19:51:59

Full results.

Audrey Tanguy being interviewed by Depa after finishing fifth.

Coverage Thanks

Thank you so much to Miguelito Rodríguez, Foncho Clemente, Texenery Diaz, and Inmaculada Martel. We couldn’t have covered Transgrancanaria without their Canarian expertise!

Bryon Powell: is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com, which he founded more than 10 years ago. Having spent more than 15 years as an ultrarunner and 25 years as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. These days he calls Moab, Utah and its trails home.

View Comments (7)

  • Thanks for your coverage of this race all weekend iRunFar! You're providing an amazing resource for those of us back home who are glued to trackers and twitters.
    Question on course changes and course records - my understanding is that the course changed this year, and it changed the year before (?). It makes sense to me to not compare times and records between years if there are substantial changes - say, a snow year, or a year in which entire climbs or big sections are taken out.
    I'm curious to know how big of changes warrant not comparing times/CR's (for TGC, and maybe in general in your opinion).
    To my knowledge, Kaytlyn's time is the fastest for women's TGC, at least since 2015 (earliest times I can find). While the top 3 women were all on their own orbit, the other times were comparable to previous years and as far as I understand, the major aspects of this course are unchanged, namely - it's still 128K w/ a ~7500 m of gain over technical volcanic insanity.

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    • It's an interesting theoretical question.

      Races like Western States and Hardrock are talked about as having a (singular) course record, although there have been many modifications throughout each race's history. What's stayed the same, is that through each race's modern history is keeping the same starting and finishing spots, very similar distances, and the records being set on smaller course variations that don't make the race significantly faster/easier. And, I guess, to a degree, with the current records being held on the still current courses with only minor variations over many years.

      On the other hand, I don't give even a second of thought to what the UTMB course record is. Ever.* The course has changed so much over the years and in such substantial ways as to make the term "course record" meaningless as an inter-year comparison. (*I guess I've thought of it to the extent that we have a standing policy NOT to report on UTMB course records at all.)

      In all honesty, I have no idea how much difference there is on the TGC Classic course between last year and this year, although there were at least some changes (like different finish locations in Maspalomas). The difference from the last time I was here in 2017 until now is huge. The race used to start in the northwest of the island and now starts in the northeast. Overall, I think there's about 500m less climbing. (The used to estimate it as 8,000, rather than 7,500m.) While I don't know all the specifics, there are also significant changes to the last third or more of the course. On the other hand, back in at least 2017, the race was billing itself as 125km, but we'd have took look at race GPS data to know if that was simple an estimation or if the race was longer back then, as well.

      We'd have to talk to local experts and some folks who ran the race in 2019 and 2020 to know what changes were made and how much they affect times. If that time difference for a top runner was, say, 5-10 minutes over 12+ hours, maybe those two courses could be considered similar enough to be a singular course record. If you hit 15-20 minutes difference in favor of this year's course, then I'd have to say you'd have took at the two courses as having different course records. On the other hand, if the 2020 course were 15-20 minutes slower than the 2019 course, you could consider Kaytlyn's time a course record across both years (unifying the title, from wrestling/boxing)... but then what do you do when you look at the men's race as they ran slower than last year. It's be hard to consider it the same course for purposes of the women's record and not the men's, right? Maybe if in 2021, they ran the same exact course as 2020 and ran faster than the hypothetically faster 2019 course's record, you'd consider the men's course record as pertaining to 2019-2021.

      Ok, that's a lots of hypothesizing on a very tired mind. Time for me to finish up publishing iRF's interviews, go for a run, and pack ahead of tomorrow morning's flight!

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      • Thanks for your thoughtful reply Bryon!
        I posted this same question on another platform (we'll see where we get more meaningful discussion) and am curious to see what others think as well.
        I think the idea of CR's is framing a performance on a broader level than just the day, which is why we reference them race after race, year after year. It's clear they matter, especially for the big races like big UTWT events that bring out (and put considerable resources to recruiting) the best ultrarunners in the world, to seminal events like Western States or Hardrock or UTMB (even though a CR there is clearly, per your note, not officially tracked).
        My 2c is that there are many factors that affect race results for any given year - the course is just one of them. Who shows up (competitive fields push each other and can aid in faster times), the weather, and trail conditions all can be as much if not bigger factors than minor course adjustments.
        FWIW, given how comparable the times have been on this course for both elite and general field of women and men, I definitely see Kaytlyn's time this year as the CR and time to beat. I'm obviously biased.
        I compared previous years' times and the data suggests that changes haven't been meaningfully changing the difficulty or spirit of the race, but as we know all too well - the real story is never told by the finishing times alone.

        Enjoy that run, and all the best in wrapping up interviews and your travels!

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  • Hey Bryon, like others, I’m so appreciative of your coverage. And I read these results articles so closely that I even notice things like picture captions...check the following:)

    “Fuzhao Xiang finishing in third.”

    Safe travels, brother, and thanks again to you and all the volunteers who pitched in as well.

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    • Thanks for the catch, and fixed! We so appreciate all your eyes on the prize... including finding the typos/errors when they slip through. :-)

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  • Shout out to Ildiko Wersmecher, 55 years old and still putting up top 10 performances at international ultras.

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  • They were lucky to squeeze this one in before exponentials killed basically all group activities.

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