Transvulcania Ultra Marathon
Transvulcania 2015 (Photos after all the writing)
Having done the Transalpine (2012) and TransGrancaneria (2013), I should have been weary of entering theTransvulcania, trans now being synonymous with ‘painful’ or ‘sever discomfort’. With 44 miles and 4200meters of climb I didn’t expect it to be too bad but I really underestimated it – as the opening race for the Skyrunning World Series it is really really tough.
I’ve never ran on volcanic soil/ ash / rock and it’s quite like a moon scape at times, but despite its harshness (it’s like coral, you don’t want to fall on it) it’s stunningly beautiful, particularly 2400m up.
If you have heard about the legendary Transvulcania crowd support, I can confirm it really is as good as people say. Thanks to all of the supporters and especially those who went the even further mile, providing cold water, cold fruit, cold beer(!) and so forth, it’s a great day out! And I really recommend the race.
My comedy list of ailments during the day included cramp in my toes (yes my toes!!), cramp in almost every leg muscle, sunburn, sore feet (from all the sand In my shoes), I really could go on, unfortunately my body’s damage report machine was damaged.
Also can’t finish without a little thanks to some friends I made out there:
– Phil and Rupert who offered me a lift and who after meeting some Romanians formed an amazing Mexican wave station for the vertical k race! I haven’t repaid them yet for the kind lift home either from bib pick up – but will repay that one day I’m sure.
– Dovid who three miles to the finish came to the rescue with salt tablets. Legend. (And who also was so desperate for energy drink at one point admitted drinking the dregs of a used Poweraid bottle that had been in the sun too long!!) – gross 🙂
– Ash, who I understand suffered from the heat yet had a sleep(?) at the top and then relentlessly carried on to finish. Amazing effort.
I’ll get onto the photos shortly, but in case helpful, here is a little checklist I recommend you consider if running it yourself:
– If you are taking the free bus to the start (you probably will) there is a two hour wait at the lighthouse. Take an old throw away jumper, extra foil blanket etc (and dispose sensibly, obviously). It is chilly.
– The start line. There is massive congestion. Massive. It’s actually fascinating and funny to witness. Whilst it’s never good to run off too fast at the start (particularly uphill) I did to avoid a little bit of this backlog. And it’ll still be a fight, there is only space for two people wide. You’ll be tempted to go off to the side of the trail to over take but don’t, it’s like sinking sand and your only inviting more sand in your shoes which you don’t want. It’s only about 1 or 2k before the path widens.
– Take food, you need to start eating early, just a little. Food stations are not until aid station three and the climbs are very long and you’ll be hungry early. Food at the aid stations are otherwise plentiful and an awesome experience (see photos below).
– Salt. Take some. It’s gross but you’ll need it. I saw a lot of people suffering badly with cramps
– The Start, finish (/ bib collection), and vertical k are all in different places. Plan your accommodation to match your preference. I recommend staying in their partner hotel (H10 near the airport in 2015, which was very nice), as its full of runners and you’re most likely to find others wanting to share a taxi.
– Public transport. Your on holiday, don’t waste time with public transport if you’re only there for a short ‘holiday’ The public bus involve 1 long change and its slower.
– Say thank you to all the marshals and spectators, it’s hot for them too and they are there all day! It’s amazing the volume of local that are out supporting and I don’t mean just clapping, it’s a party!
Here are my photos. (If needed contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for the RAW files). Sad to say by the start of the long long descent I was feeling a little wobbly so I put the camera away in case I fell, so there is not much evidence of the huge 2400m descent … I suggest you head yourself to check that out 😉 …it’s also pretty tricky getting stable shots when running so excuse any blurry photos. Photos in reverse below, the last few being of the Transvulcania Vertical Kilometre with a few shots of Emelie Forsberg and Anna Frost.
Location: La Palma Island (technically Spain, but it’s just off the coast of Morocco)
Time: 12 hrs, 37 min
Position (354 of 1488 successful finishers)