More than a decade after winning the 2012 Transvulcania Ultramarathon by UTMB, Dakota Jones returned to the Spanish island of La Palma to earn his second victory in the 2023 edition. In the women’s race, decorated Italian mountain runner Martina Valmassoi came away victorious.
The 2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon brought talent together from around the world. Notably, in contrast to more than a decade of strong performances from the host country, no Spanish man finished in the top 10 (Ignasi Ferrer was 14th), while Cristina Santurino was the top Spanish woman in 10th.
Before dawn on Saturday morning, May 6, from El Faro de Fuencaliente, the south tip of La Palma island, Transvulcania fired off and runners raced for the sky. By the time the 72-kilometer (44.7 miles) course concluded in the city of Los Llanos de Aridane on the island’s west side, participants racked up some 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) of climbing. During that distance, they ran through volcanic cinder, over lava rocks, among the island’s famous banana plantations, over the island’s approximately 2,420-meter (7,940 feet) high point, and on the race course’s infamous descent from that high point to sea level.
2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon by UTMB Women’s Race
Once things shook out over the first two hours, the 2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon turned into a three-woman race. Poland’s Edyta Lewandowska was the pacesetter on the women’s side, going through Los Canarios seven kilometers into the race in 49:19, a full two minutes ahead of South Africa’s Meg Mackenzie and Martina Valmassoi of Italy. From there, Lewandowska continued to hold a two-to-four-minute lead over Valmassoi in second though El Reventón (31 kilometers), while Mackenzie settled into third, running by herself in the women’s race.
As the race continued its relentless climb, Lewandowska added to her lead over Valmassoi, expanding it to seven minutes at 37k, 12 minutes at 46k, and 14.5 minutes at the race’s high point of Roque de los Muchachos (51k).
And, then, Valmassoi started descending. Wow. Just nine kilometers later at the checkpoint of Torre del Time, Valmassoi had cut a full 13 minutes off of Lewandowska’s lead, trailing by merely a minute and a half. Fast forward to the next checkpoint in the seaside town of Tazacorte at 68k and Valmassoi had a 13-minute lead on Lewandowska with less than five kilometers to go. Game over.
Martina Valmassoi won the 2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon in 9:09:13. Edyta Lewandowska held on to second, finishing in a time of 9:21:40, while Meg Mackenzie continued onto to the finish in Los Llanos de Aridane in her long-held third position in 9:28:06.
Notably, Mackenzie was a full half an hour behind Lewandowska at the race’s highpoint at 51k, and closed the gap to just seven and a half minutes at the finish.
2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon by UTMB Women’s Results
- Martina Valmassoi (Italy) – 9:09:13
- Edyta Lewandowska (Poland) – 9:21:40
- Meg Mackenzie (South Africa) – 9:28:06
- Francesca Pretto (Italy) – 9:33:48
- Michelle Buncke (U.S.) – 9:59:38
- Alix-Anne Farque (France, lives in Spain) – 10:08:45
- Alessandra Boifava (Italy) – 10:10:09
- Miria Meinheit (Germany) – 10:12:26
- Elisabeth Borgersen (Norway) – 10:17:39
- Cristina Santurino (Spain) – 10:45:00
2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon by UTMB Men’s Race
By the second aid station at Las Deseadas at 17k, the men’s podium formed at the head of the race, even if that wasn’t clear at the time, with France’s Damien Humbert, Dakota Jones of the U.S., and Italian runner Andreas Reiterer at the head of the race. Fourteen kilometers later at El Reventón (31k), Reiterer and Jones had a few-second lead on Humbert.
From there, Jones made what would become the decisive move of the race, putting more than a minute on Humbert and four on Reiterer by Punta de los Roques at 37k. Jones added a small amount to his lead as the race continued to climb to its highpoint at Roque de los Muchachos (51k) and then quickly added even more to his lead at the start of the nearly 8,000-foot descent from peak to ocean.
After the relatively small climb back to the finish in Los Llanos de Aridane, Dakota Jones won in 7:02:16 with Damien Humbert taking second exactly eight minutes later in 7:10:16. After spending the second half of the race running alone in third, Andreas Reiterer held onto that position, finishing in 7:17:26.
2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon by UTMB Men’s Results
- Dakota Jones (U.S.) – 7:02:16
- Damien Humbert (France) – 7:10:16
- Andreas Reiterer (Italy) – 7:17:26
- Ionel Manole (Romania) – 7:22:46
- Germain Grangier (France) – 7:26:52
- Davide Cheraz (Italy) – 7:29:02
- Jeff Mogavero (U.S.) – 7:32:55
- Tim Tollefson (U.S.) – 7:39:22
- Tobias Geiser (Italy) – 7:43:30
- Sebastian Krogvig (Norway) – 7:52:02