2021 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Canceled Due to Volcanic Activity

Transvulcania race organizers have released an official statement canceling the 2021 Transvulcania Ultramarathon due to the recent volcanic activity on the island of La Palma, where the globally competitive race takes place. The event, set for October 31 this year, was previously canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Organizers later postponed it from the spring to the fall of 2021, also due to COVID-19.

According to the official release, Transvulcania organizers waited as long as possible to make the decision, ultimately citing “that common sense obliges us to cancel the event.”

Volcanic Eruption on La Palma

The volcanic eruption began on September 19 and has continued with no definitive end in sight. The Canary Islands Volcano Institute indicates that the eruption could last anywhere from 24 to 84 days.

Current volcanic activity on the Canary Island of La Palma.

Current volcanic activity on the Canary Island of La Palma. Image is a screenshot from this RTVE Noticias live video feed of the eruption at Youtube.com/watch?v=y9RfTYY5EUY.

The 273-square-mile island of La Palma, which has a population of 85,840 people, is the westernmost island of Spain’s Canary Islands. At present, 6,000 people have been evacuated. Expansion of the lava flow from the Cumbre Vieja volcano measures 258 hectares (593 acres), and has so far destroyed an estimated 600 buildings as well as crops and greenhouses. The flow passed through the villages of El Paraiso and Todoque and continues to head west toward the coast.

If the lava reaches the sea, it could create clouds of toxic, acidic gas. In addition to the local evacuations, flights to the island have been canceled due to the ash cloud. Authorities created an exclusion zone to keep boats from entering the area.

2021 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Cancelation

The 74-kilometer Transvulcania Ultramarathon route follows the Ruta del Bastón, passing through the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. The event, held 11 times prior, also features a marathon, half marathon, and vertical kilometer, and usually draws around 2,500 participants. iRunFar has covered the Transvulcania Ultramarathon a number of times throughout its decade-plus history.

The 74k course starts at the southern tip of the island, heads dues north, skirting to the east of the eruption site of Cumbre Vieja, before looping back to the west and south to finish at Los Llanos.

2019 Transvulcania Ultramarathon - Ragna Debats champion

2019 Transvulcania Ultramarathon women’s champion Ragna Debats runs through La Palma’s volcanic terrain, not far from where current volcanic activity is taking place. Photo: iRunFar

Though the lava flow does not directly cross the route, race organizers noted that the threat to infrastructure and houses, as well the hundreds of families who have lost their homes and businesses, ultimately influenced their decision to cancel the 2021 event.

Runners can choose to either receive a 100% refund for their entry or defer their registration to the 2022 event, now set for May.

2019 Transvulcania Ultramarathon - Thibaut Garrivier champion

Thibaut Garrivier won the 2019 Transvulcania Ultramarathon, the last time the race took place prior to cancelations and postponements due to COVID-19 and volcanic activity. Photo: iRunFar