On October 22 was the 12 edition of Transvulcania Ultra Marathon by UTMB. Last time I did the race was in 2019 and it was my first ever ultra Marathon and I remember it as a very hard but good experience.
La Palma is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, off northwestern Africa. Its landscape is the result of a dramatic formation process that took millions of years, and houses a multitude of microclimates and surprisingly contrasting vegetation.
The island is dotted with volcanoes like Teneguía and Cumbre Vieja. At its highest point, over 2400m above sea level, the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory rises above the “sea of clouds” where the atmosphere is clear and stable thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, this is considered one of the best places on earth to observe the sky.
An eruption at the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge, comprising the southern half of the Spanish island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, lasted from 19 September to 13 December 2021.
The eruption has caused the evacuation of around 7,000 people, and the lava flow has covered over 1000 hectares. The lava flow is about 3.5 kilometre wide at the widest point, about 6.2 kilometre long and has reached the sea, destroying more than 3,000 buildings.
The map of the island is being redrawn, new roads and communities is being made and life on the island is slowly getting back to normal again after some really tough years.
So it was very special to go back Island again .
Me and my team mate Abby Hall went to La Palma 9 days prior to the race to check out parts of the course and (for me) acclimatise to the heat.
The time after CCC have not been perfect training wise with a week of sickness body not feeling really good the weeks prior to the race.
So I was very unsure and nervous how it was going to feel during the race. Anyway, I felt like I hade done everything I could before the race and was happy with the preparation so there there is not much more you can do!
The start was controlled but fast. I ran together with Miguel Angel HERAS HERNANDEZ as the the sun raised when we reached the volcanos. Legs did not feel so good and I was running and waiting for the legs to respond. I had good energy and was able to drink and eat just fine so I was not too worried. Still, I knew that it would be a tough race ahead.
Damien Humbert was around 1-2 min ahead and was going really strong from start. Me and Miguel cough up with Damien just before El Pillar and left the aid station all three together.
Halfway to next aid station, I stopped for a pee and when continuing, my body just felt tiered and stiff. I lost more than 2 min in just a few kilometers and I started to get a bit worried that I lost control over the race. I knew that it was a long way to go and not to give up hope so I just tried to stay calm, thinking positive even though I felt like I was moving very slowly
I pulled out my poles and started to hike the next climb, trying not to think about the race but to take care of the legs and get some more energy in. Soon the legs stated to move a bit smother and suddenly I cough up with Miguel and Damien before Pic de la Crus. I was suddenly back in the game in the lead of the race. Between Pica de la Crus to Roque de Los Muchachos, the highest point of the course I pushed hard to but in a good gap between me and the others. I was moving well and really enjoyed the trails, scenery of the island and all the people cheering on gave more energy.
At Roque de Los Muchachos, my team manager Robert was crewing for me. We changed out the bottles, I drank some RedBull and removed the insoles from my shoes. My feet had swollen so much from heat and impact that I could barely fit my shoes anymore.
I heard that I got a 7 min gap to the others which was not that much time so I was determined to keep pushing and finish the race strong and to put a comfortable gap to the others.
The last downhill from the summit down to the beach in Tazacorte is long and gruesome. 2500m. Vertical descending in 18km, burning heat and hard, rough trails just destroys the legs and feet. I still had had a lot of energy and moving pretty well when leaving Tazacorte and could now felt like I was going to make it. Entering the city of Llegada was an amazing feeling winning Transvulcania Ultramarathon is something I have been thinking about for 4 years since I did the race .
I was also very happy to share the top of the podium with my very talented teame mates Abby Hall and Yngvild Kaspersen who finished 1 and second in the women race.
Thank you adidas TERREX and all my team mates for your support. To all the fans and the people of La Palma for your support along the course and the organisers and volunteers of the event and UTMB world series.
Adidas TERREX prototypes Shoes
TERREX Agravic Pro Tankt
TERREX Agravic Pro Trail Running Shorts
TERREX Trail Running prototype vest
Leki Trail running poles
UTMB Basic mandatory equipment
10 Maurten Gels
4 Maurten 320
4 Maurten 160
Photos by: Ian Corless and Raphael Webber