Two different tactics were employed at the 125km Transgrancanaria this weekend. Go out hard from the gun and keep charging or hang with the lead group and wait for the moment to charge. Fortunately both strategies ended with wins and course records for France’s Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40 and Norway’s Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48 respectively.
For Chaverot it was an inspired performance showing absolute confidence in her ability and sheer guts to take it out from the front and just keep charging knowing that you have a strong field behind you ready to pounce at any slip up. After 125km of ultimately controlled running by Chaverot her lead was nearly two whole hours ahead of Switzerland’s Andrea Huser in 17:21:43. In third place and only seven minutes behind was Spain’s Uxue Fraile Azpeitia in 17:28:05.
On the other hand Hermansen played it conservatively, at first running his own race but keeping in the lead pack and then pushing harder and then harder still to take the lead. His was a race of guts as well, knowing that he had some really strong guys behind him that he had overtaken but who could quite easily reel him back in with any momentary slip up in pace. But he didn’t slow up and once he had that lead he took it all the way, again with total confidence in his ability. His finish time of 13:41:48 created a new course record by a whole forty two minutes. Lithuanian and 2015 Transgrancanaria champion Gediminas Grinius came in a strong second in a time of 13:45:08. In joint third were Catalan Pau Capell, winner of the Advanced race in 2015, with Switzerland’s Diego Pazos both in a time of 14:11:02.
As the clock chimed 11PM in Agaete the seventeenth edition of the Transgrancanaria started on the north west of the island of Gran Canaria. The amassed runners would have a challenging race ahead of them with not only 125km of technical running but a mixture of temperatures to deal with along their journey. The night time journey would be cold with strong winds and low cloud cover followed by 25C dry and arid heat as the midday sun rose through the afternoon. For many a second night would be part of their journey as they attempted to finish within the 30 hour cut off at 5AM on Sunday morning.
Artenara is at 33km and is a crucial point in the race. Frenchman Aurelian Collet (3:49 elapsed) had built a lead of one minute ahead of # Capell, Pazos, Grinius and Longfei Yan followed by Jordi Gamito-Baus and Andy Symonds a further minute behind. All in fairly close contention at not even the midway point.
By contrast Chaverot reached Artenara with an elapsed time of 4:13 and a twenty one minute lead over Emelie Lecomte. Nuria Picas followed very shortly but was to drop out at this point with a psoas injury.
At Teror (56km) Collet was in with 6:09 elapsed followed by Pazos two minutes later. Grinius & Hermansen were in third and sixh places and running strongly only two and eight minutes back from Collet. Julien Chorier was in a top ten position but was rattled by not being able to pick up some supplies at this aid station. Chaverot’s lead at Teror had built up to thirty nine and forty four minutes over a second and third placed Huser & Azpeitia.
As daylight broke, the runners reached (82km) past Roque Nublo and onto the checkpoint in the woods of Garanon.
Still in the lead was Collet at a fast pace (9:35 elapsed) seven minutes ahead of Grinius who looked like he was working hard.
Hermansen was now on his charge and was only two minutes behind Grinius and was moving comfortably climbing up to the aid station.
The course this year had rerouted its last twenty five kilometres to make for a better finishing route and runners were treated to a slightly technical but more enjoyable finishing experience. At the small village of Ayaguares (107km) situated next to a dam and just prior to another ascent was the penultimate aid station. The runners came in and did a mini switchback through the aid station before heading back and then over the dam wall and onwards and upwards. Hermansen arrived first, coolly running into the aid station with 12:17 on the clock. As Grinius was literally two minutes behind, Hermansen made a very quick exit to try and extend his short lead. Grinius conscious of the twenty five kilometres left and the effort he would need to chase down Hermansen decided to make sure he refuelled well and stayed in longer. Collet was in third, look tired and five minutes down followed by Capell and Pazos who were running together in fourth and fifth.
Andy Symonds was in sixth looking comfortable with an easy running stride. The wait for Chaverot wasn’t long as she arrived with 13:34 elapsed. Looking fresh and with plenty of zip she cruised in and out of the aid station amid loud cheers.
But the wait for a second place Huser was long, 1:40 and she looked tired but made sure to refuel properly by walking out of the aid station. Azpeitia was ten minutes down on Huser and obviously made up ground in those final kilometres but not enough to take second. All credit to Huser.
Hermansen’s win followed his second place here last year and his win at Lavaredo. He goes on to Western States and hopefully UTMB later this year. He is on the up and we look forward to seeing him again on the big stage.
Chaverot was clearly in a race of her own. Phenomenal pace and guts to take it out from the front which is fast becoming her trademark method. Again, like Hermansen she won at Lavaredo last year and was second at TGC.
Is this the forming of a new guard?