The steep ravines and beaches of Gran Canaria are the scene each year of one of the races of trail most important in Spain. La Transngrancanaria, in all its modalities, attracts thousands of runners from all over the world to compete in the various tests of the event that this year is held between February 22 and 26. The classical is the big star A test that crosses the island from end to end on a route of 128 kilometers and 7,000 meters of positive elevation gain, from Las Canteras beach to Maspalomas, passing through Roque Nublo, one of the highest points on the island at more than 1,800 meters.
La Transgrancanaria is the first stop of the Spartan Trail World Championchip, an international circuit made up of nine races on different continents and in which some of the best ultra-distance runners in the world compete. Pau Capell is one of the athletes to stand out in this year’s event that starts at midnight from Friday to Saturday. The Catalan rider, one of the great Spanish figures in this sport along with Kilian Jornet, has won the race four times, the last in 2021, and last year he was number one on the STWC circuit.
Courtney Dauwalter is another of the great references this year. The best ultramarathon runner in the world will compete in Spain for the first time in an event of this caliber (she participated in the Zegama marathon, in the Basque Country). Dauwalter has an impressive winning record. She has won 18 of the 20 races she has competed in since 2018. The North American counts among her achievements the HardRock100 in the United States, the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc, the Diagonal des Fous on the island of Réunion and the MOAB 240 in Utah, a race of 383 kilometers that he covered in 2 days, 9 hours and 55 minutes.
Fernando González, founder of the Transgrancanaria, says that they are looking forward to seeing their performance in the competition. “We hope that it will be in the Top 5, but not of women, but in the absolute. He is a marvelous athlete”, affirms the Canarian, director of Arista Eventos, the company that organizes the race.
González explains how the idea of the Transgrancanaria arose, 20 years ago with a colleague. “We dedicated ourselves to organizing routes to cross the island from north to south and from east to west, and it occurred to us that we could do it running,” he says. This is how, in September 2003, 67 people left the Port of Agaete, in the northwest of the island, to cross Gran Canaria, passing through the summit and along the traditional paths used by the Canarian aborigines.
The race grew in number of participants as the years passed. Originally, the race was held twice a year, in October from east to west and in March from north to south. “In 2006 we had reached more than 1,000 participants and it became unaffordable, so we left only the south-north version,” explains González.
Among the different versions of the race, the classical It is the most outstanding test of the Transgrancanaria for its hardness and distance (128). 700 athletes are participating this year in the modality, out of a total of 3,500 who have moved to the island. The category Advanced It is not far behind in terms of demand, with 84 km, like the 45 km marathon. González says that the latter is where the largest number of “high level” runners participate.
The Transgrancaria jumped to the international arena in 2013, when it joined other great ultra-distance races such as the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc, the Lavaredo in Italy or the Western States in California, among others, all of which are benchmarks in their regions. The Ultra Trail World Tour was born from this union, one of the most important mountain racing circuits in the world. The alliance ended in 2018, when the circuit was renamed UTMB, with the Alps race as the axis of the competition. Spartan appeared to bring the Transgrancanaria back to the highest level in 2019 and now the third season of the circuit is starting.
The starting gun of the Transgrancanaria classical It will be in Las Canteras, an emblematic beach in the city of Las Palmas. After going through the green municipalities of the north of the island of Gran Canaria, the pine forests of the island’s peaks and noticing the slight absence of air in Roque Nublo, the runners will have to descend a deceptive “downhill” back to the coast, through dirt and volcanic rock paths that go up and down ravines eroded by water and wind. Maspalomas will receive the first runners to reach the finish line 13 hours later.
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