Even though the powder snow at home is too good at the moment to go abroad, a trail race on the Canary islands in the begin of March has it’s own attraction and it’s a good way to start the 2013 running season. But as the “advanced” route (83 km, 4.000 altimeters) considered more kilometres as I have run this year, it was a very tough start.
Directly after the Indoor Trail in Dortmund, a crazy parcour loop with a lot of natural obstacles they brought from the “real” outdoors into the big expo area, I took the plane to Gran Canaria and the two ladies from the organisation kindly shuttled us up to Garanion. This place is at about 1700m sea level, starting point for the marathon, half-time for my distance and ¾ mark for the “real” Transgrancanaria. Camping at -1°C, sleeping in my down jacket (luckily I had this one in my luggage from Dortmund!), dinner with a lot of youth in puberty like in the German TV show “strictest parents on the earth”, no heating and electricity – that was definitely not what I had expected from my holidays on the Canaries!
But a (small) consolation was the wonderful surrounding and the great running there – from the highest point, Pico de las Nieves (1949m), we could see Teide on Tenerife!
Day and/or night
Freezing the whole night and waking up with cough and cold already after one night, that is not a good race preparation – for sure not! This is why Ryan Sandes, Julia Boettger, Ian Corless and me could move in the south to another lodging. We were quite surprised as we entered this colossal 5-star-hotel-castle of the H10 group and everyone received a key for an own junior suite – champagne and big fruit basket inclusive!
So to say, Ryan earned with his fish-canyon movie presentation two very relaxed days there also for us – chilling on the pool, some running along the beach or training in the gym. By the way, at the huge dinner buffet (I love buffet ;-)) we cut down the age average massively…
Thursday morning we had to pack all our stuff again and moving towards the capital Las Palmas to reach the new accommodation, crossing the island (on that day still with the car :-)) from south to north. My original plan was to run as much as possible, enjoying the warm temperatures and collect more running altimeters, but was definitely not possible along the city esplanade through a lot of tourists in the city centre. So I decided to start some “culinary hiking- and exploring-tours” to find out the best places for ice cream and Pizza. You just have to be flexible and in fact some relaxing before the race was not really wasted time. In the evening the “who is who” of the trailrunning and ultrarunning scene met at the finish/expo-area to answer to journalists questions. How will it be crossing the finish line if so many spectators cheered already on the pre-race day…
It’s always totally crazy to wake up at 3 a.m., put on the competition clothes, (again) the 3 km footing to the finish area (knowing that this will be only 1/30 of the total distance toady), watching a lot of people still partying on the beach and finally take the bus to Agaete with a lot of other “corredores”. Shortly after the start at 6 a.m. a lot of Spanish early risers along the race track shouted us literary up the first big climb (1300 altimeters, 9 km). Obviously for most of the Spanish athletes the temperatures were to cold and with all the long trousers, gloves, Buffs put up to the eyes or Primaloft jackets I felt like running a snow-trail-race in the Alps.
Ups and downs
My motivation and affection (also how I really felt) was like the race profile – always up and down! As I have not really run downhill since last autumn, especially the long descents killed me.Started with shimmering moonlight in Agaete, clouds warped us up as higher we came and it began to rain slightly. On the highest point of the race, Roque Nublo (1803m), we had hurrican-like winds with 80 km/h top speed and the heavy rain almost washed us away from the trail. On the long way down to Teror the sky cleared up, the sun burned down merciless and in the dry riverbed closed to the end we were cooked – sunburn inclusive 🙂
A long time we had been running together in a group of four and alternated in the leading, of course everyone wanted to show how fit he is 😉 At half-distance in Garanion I could overtake my Salomon team partner Ryan and was the first, but only for a lucky ½ hour – unbelievable! As the organisation also offers a “marathon” and “starter” (24 km) race on the same race track than the other two distances with about 1500 participants, we always had a lot of brilliant motivators – and the passionate Spanish people are really good at cheering!Finally I could stay under 8:30 hours for the 83 km and 4.000 altimeters and reached the second place behind Ryan Sandes. However the biggest challenge was the 3 km walk back to the hotel along the beach…