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24-Feb-2021 Agaete, Island of Gran Canaria, Spain


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Trail Race Race Terrain
262KM / 162Miles
1 Day - 500 Runners

Alternate Distances: 128KM/79M 65KM/40M 42KM/26M 30KM/18M

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Expert  

First organised in 2003, the Transgrancanaria takes place on the island of Gran Canaria and is now firmly established in the international ultra running scene.

It takes place at the end of February and includes a variety of distances for all levels of running experience. The cut-off time is 30 hours and partial cut-off times are applicable at each aid station.

The route is fully marked, with fully stocked aid stations and the race is chipped. The mandatory kit will be subject to random checks. Crew assistance is only permitted for certain distances at certain checkpoints.

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Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Transgrancanaria

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12:00 27-02-19

TGC 128km 2019

Had I have written a review from my 2018 experience, it would have been with much more positive energy, however, my return in 2019 proved to be a mistake as I just didn't enjoy it. Needless to say, I do not put this down to the event itself, in fact the event is incredible, I just want to apologise in advance if my review lacks enthusiasm.

Double check the website schedule to collect your bib as they do not work all day, having a siesta for a few hours in the middle of the day. They do not do a kit check but if you are using the bag drop of finishers bag drop, take this down when you collect your bib so that you don't have to take multiple trips.

I would recommend staying in Malpalomas (the finish and where the expo is located) and taking the bus option from the expo to the start line in Las Palmas. The bus is due to leave at 8:45pm on Friday evening, though both years I've taken part they have sent an email in the day to ask runners to be ready to get the bus at 8pm instead - I'm not entirely sure why. The bus is an easy ride, you may have heard or experienced on the other distances that the bus takes a windy route that takes hours, however an incentive to take on TGC128 is the easy bus ride. The journey takes an hour and cruises straight up the highway. You do then have about an hour and half to kill before the start but they have a cracking festival each year that makes excellent entertainment. I would recommend donning your mandatory jacket to stay warm against the sea breeze and taking some extra cash to bunch down in one of the many cafes for some last minute fuelling.

As explained above, you have a brilliant festival on the pier so the crowds are huge and there is much excitement in the air. You are then called down to the beach to take up your starting position, there are pens behind the inflatable starting arch that will coordinate with a number on your bib. TGC, like UTMB and many of the great trail races, has its own dramatic local song that is played just before you start to get you into the emotional zone ahead of the race. At 11pm, Friday night, you're off! Running your way along the beach to crowds lining the harbour front. Here I'd recommend to drop closer to the sea to make the most of harder sand, it could also be an idea to don some gaiters for this section as you cover a couple of miles on the sand before hitting the trails and sand can cause dreadful friction, rubbing your feet raw! Or at least take a moment to empty your shoes, it's worth it.

The first section of the race to CP1 is the longest stretch between checkpoints at just over 10miles, so not too far. You are kindly eased into the race with a taste for all terrains that you will cover again throughout the race and some uphill climbing. The climb just before CP1 is steep but not too long, I remember in 2018 finding this climb alone horrendous, but do not underestimate this race, this hill is just a bump in comparison to what's ahead.

In 2018 I remember being blown away after not expecting much at the CPs, but they have such a variety of foods for all. I'm plant based and was delighted to discover fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, hot foods (the herby oily pasta at Garanon is amazing), drinks and even some of the snack bars were vegan (just check the ingredients). I never rely on CPs and in fact in 2019 I barely touched them, eating my own food en route, but it can be done, you wouldn't need to take much food in your pack if you wanted to rely on the checkpoints.

Wow! The island is really stunning. No offence but the seaside resorts are tacky and bad representations of such an amazing island. You cover all sorts of terrains and have such gorgeous views. Such as sub-tropical jungles, woodlands, sandy trails, technical boulders to manoeuvre, wet grounds, volcanic rocks. Though you should be aware that this is obviously renowned for being a tough course so although it is amazing and worth the effort, you need to be strong and ready. The climbs are savage and long - I'd recommend poles to anyone. The map is also slightly misleading because some of the smaller climbs (that still end up being a mental challenge) are not recognised, I guess this is a bit entertaining and highlights how severe the 'real' climbs are. This year, someone has launched a 3D map route on Youtube and I'd recommend watching this and studying the route before hand.

This year I knew the climb up to Garanon at 85KM and where your bag drop is, was a long cruel mistress that winds up in the blistering heat. You can see the famous stone that you're aiming for but it doesn't appear to get closer, even though you are climbing such steep assents you travel around the mountain rather than directly up, so a word of warning be prepared for this and settle in for a long climb. This year I knew what to expect and more enjoyed the climb because I looked around more and it is actually a stunning section with brilliant views. Once you've reached the rock, do not be fooled, you have a short run down to the woods and then another short but soul-destroying climb to your bag drop about 3km away. However, once there the volunteers are really efficient and have your bag held up, ready and waiting for you (I highly recommend a toothbrush and tooth paste if you ever have a bag drop in an ultra, you won't regret it). Get yourself in for a quick massage too to help the quads or anything that's seized up. This year I suffered hard and was reduced to mainly walking but a quick massage on my quads helped me carry on to the end and mainly running! They do not scan you here as they have only just done so at the rock.

You may have also heard of the riverbed in the final 10km, yes be prepared, this isn't the funnest section and some of the rocks are loose so you do need to be focussed even though you're at the end of a very long ultra. However, both years I have found the riverbed very runnable, it's a flat section and you're near the end so if you're confident on your feet, make the most of it. However, for 2019, the organisers introduced a new section that you'll probably hear a lot about if you ask about TGC now, just before Parque Sur (17km from the end) there is now a very technical section that starts with climbing over boulders and through bamboo and then you hit a steep decent, now I'm normally confident on downhills but this is ridiculous. The path slopes over at the edges so there is a high risk of flying off the edge, combine this with the loose sand/rocks underfoot and no room to over take, you are slowed right down behind a bottle neck. This was the worst section!

The finish line is fab, even if you finish at a silly time there will always be a few people out to cheer and the MC on the mike is full of energy shouting your name as you come up to the finish line, this guy really deserves a lot more praise! The photographer is in position to get your finishers photo (these are posted about a week later). You're awarded your well-earned medal, finishers gillet, there is more food if you want it and free massages inside if you ask. Don't forget to get you drop bag too that they have brought back to the expo and is where you collected your bib from.

It's a cracking course, excellent support and one to feel extremely proud of when you cross the finish line. Enjoy!

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09:51 05-03-17

TGC Feb 2017

From the finishing line you can take the bus to the start line which arrives at the start line early and left us all standing around in the cold with nothing to do or signs pointing towards public toilets (on the beach) or anywhere to top-up water, not exactly an idea starting point for one of the toughest races around.

The race was fast off the start line and up onto the first checkpoint, this time knowing the course (well for the first 2/3rd) made a massive difference, especially on the very long climb with many false summits from Teror checkpoint.

From Garanon to the finish has a tough descent which needs a good headtorch if you are as slow as me, and the last 15km is along a riverbed with continually changing conditions underfoot. Distances/signage – distance ended up being 130km and signage was good overall, though I did meet many people who had taken the wrong paths so worth keeping your wits about you.

Checkpoints – simple straight forward food with warm drinks in many of them and hot food at Garanon. With good weather I feel that complying with the 1.5lt water requirement is worth following.

They had ran out of Starter t-shirts and the finishers top was a strange cycling top which won’t be seeing the light of day any time soon, but compared to my race in 2016 (big review below - lettersand123s) this went a lot better as I was better trained, prepared and setup for this race.

Even with the eccentricities of the race, it is still a beautiful trail, with some great checkpoint support and amazing views to keep you going through some tough (physically & technically) trails

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11:01 03-03-17

2017 Transgrancanaria TGC

Transgrancanaria - (TGC) is part of the famous "Ultra trail world tour". Many of the world’s greatest ultra runners enter but not all of them finish due to the technical and brutal nature of the TGC. I first heard of this race whilst listening to "talk ultra" hosted by Ian J Corless. The second time I heard about TGC was whilst running the "South Downs way 100 mile" in the UK, one of the runner’s I spoke with told me it's awesome and there’s no need to enter via a lottery. I made up my mind there and then, one day I would enter the TGC. Little did I know it would be so soon.

Making my way to the start line of TGC, I enter the elite area at the front of the pack, my names not in the elite list, so I have to sneak past security. There are over 80 listed athletes ranked by the international trail running association (ITRA), these runners are on the TGC’s website as favorites. I’m pretty sure I'll finish within the top 80, so positioning myself in this area is brave but I'm sure I can do it (finish in at least the top 80). Part of the mandatory kit is cash, which I do not have, plus I can’t find an ATM, so before entering the start I rush to a particular backstreet coffee shop and find Maria the owner. A few days earlier I brought a sandwich after a training run at her shop, we got chatting, she’s a friendly lady. I tell her I need €10, Maria doesn't hesitate to give it me along with an espresso. Adrenaline and caffeine rush through my veins, I'm now ready to start TGC. We set off at a good pace, I'm in about 60th position, 100’s of people on the street cheer us as we pass by them.

Along the road up a path and straight into our first climb towards Tamadaba. Sea to summit with about 1450m positive elevation. No more street light’s just the beam from out head torches, looking up I see the leader are not that far ahead of us. I feel comfortable with my efforts and know I can sustain this pace up to the top of the mountain. My Leki micro trail poles are a real help as nobody on this uphill section is running so hiking with my poles save me valuable energy. About halfway up the mountain I turn to look back down at the snake of glittering head torch lights below, the view takes my breath and I soak up the amazing sight before turning to look ahead and continue with my progress. Finally we reach the top, surrounded by pine trees I feel like I’m in America at Western States 100. I’m feeling great. The atmosphere in Tamadaba is really cool, I fill one soft flask, as the other is still full. I'm loving the smiles from the checkpoint staff they are so supportive and encouraging. Leaving Tamadaba cowbells ringing we begin our descent. The group I'm following disappears into the cold mountain air. Time to react, I accelerate towards them down the rocky path at break neck speed. It's awesome but scary as I follow the single file group of about 6 runners in front of me, the runner directly in front of me is a female runner.

Disaster strikes as my left foot gets caught in a root, I'm propelled forward, flying through the air time slows down. I look at the rocks ahead of me wondering which one I will smash my teeth on. I don't know how but I manage to get my left leg back into position in front of me and so don't land on my face. In doing so my left calf muscle cramps up momentarily. ***** it's all over, my mind is filled by nightmare memories of cramping up in Thailand. 3 weeks ago I was in Thailand running the Thailand North Face 100k. I finished 3rd position but paid a price by experiencing severe dehydration and cramping after the race I spent 22 hours in hospital. I feel traumatized but continue down the trail chasing the woman ahead. The pace is relentless so no time to think. By the time we reach the bottom I've mentally recovered from my trip and mini cramp, my body feels fine in fact I'm feeling confident. I now have company behind me. Feeling part of a group I settle into the rhythm of running the trails. Our next big climb is from Tirma.

Getting to the second checkpoint I'm ready with my soft flask open, one of the checkpoint staff take it from me to fill. There are many people here and they are cheering and singing the runners who enter and leave. with all the fun going on around me I forget to eat fruit from the table My nutritional strategy is 200 calories per hour via a Gu gel and 500ml of ultrafuel plus a salt tablet. I'm also eating what ever fruit is available at each checkpoint. So leaving Tirma I know I've rushed and not followed my plan but I don't worry as I still have all the following checkpoints ahead to eat fruit and this is what will count towards staying energized and able to finish TGC. Leaving Tirma I'm cheered and applauded by the large crowd. We run a short while on a flat dirt road before the climb up to Artenara which will give us 1500m of elevation gain. When running this section in daylight I was rewarded by seeing the large ridgeline of the mountain ahead of me, now in the dark with only light from my head torch I take pleasure in knowing the beauty of the landscape to come. I've passed the female runner who had been ahead of me all this time, but not because I’m running faster, just because she's slower on the flat. I turn left onto single trail the gradient soon becomes steep and I catch up with “Tim Wortmann” an athlete from the German “Altra” team. I met him before the race, he’s a friend of Matthias Krah the other German Altra team member. I met Matthias on my first training run here on the island. We all drove in my car to the start leaving Matthias's car at the finish this way we were independent and didn't need to take the coach service.

I sense Tim's not feeling good. I ask where Matthias is, Tim say's he's behind us. Tim tell's me to go ahead because by now I have slowed to his pace. I push on feeling energetic. At the top the terrain becomes runnable so I do just that. Running along the mountain ridge I come to the section where I saw wild goats on my training run only days before. Here I begin a love affair with the trail as it zigzags through trees, just for a moment I stop turn off my head torch and look up at the sky full of sparkling stars, I’m humbled. I'm protected from the wind this side of the mountain, I feel safe in the wilderness away from internet and the madness of society. I continue the gradual downhill running easy my heart rate drops to 116 beats per minute. Leaving the dirt trail and onto a tarmac road I enter Gran Canaria's highest village "Artenara" the road becomes cobblestone as I pass many cheering people to enter a building in which hot food is served.

This is checkpoint number 3, eating a small amount of pasta, I'm asked if I’m okay, it’s pleasing to be able to say yes I'm fine. Around me runners whom probably set off too fast sit on chairs looking tired and worn out. I've climbed to 56th position. Filling my water bottles I leave and head up the steep tarmac road to exit the village. Next check point is at Fontanales, this is the start of the advanced race. Including TGC there's a total of 6 race's, the Promo/family 17k, Starter 30k, Marathon 42k, Advanced 85k, TGC 125k and finally the Trans 360 265k. Up till now I have run marathon distance. Running in the dark with a head torch is really cool, but before starting I was nervous and apprehensive, but now I grown use to the dark. The trail to Fontanales crosses three valleys, lots of ups and downs along rock-strewn trails. Here is where I experience my first competition. 3 runners pass me when going downhill then I catch them up on the uphill, this continues for a while.

Each time they pass me an internal voice tells me this is a race against yourself and the way you react to being passed on the downhill is a measure of your focus and character. One guy is impartially faster than the others and as he passes me on one of the downs he turns looks me in the eye and says no more ups for 6 kilometers, I take this as an attempt of intimidation. I have been passing him on every uphill so I think he wants me to know there are no uphill’s for a while. Knowing I shouldn't, I follow him down the dark twisty trail keeping close behind him, navigating the rocks at speed. It may be the worst thing I have done up till now. So far I've stuck to my own pace but chasing this guy I've lost my focus. I'm sure it won't be long before I pay the price. Eventually he gains time on me and I no longer see him ahead. I travel along a small tarmac road before turning right over to a slippery narrow decent, on the road I catch up with two guys one has stopped and is questioning if this is the correct direction. His friend shouts out to him yes it's this way. I know it’s the right way having already run this in training, a huge confidence boost for me.

Down the slippy trail I'm on the tail of the runner who was unsure of the direction, from behind he reminds me of an American runner the way he is dressed, trucker hat and knee length shorts awesome trail fashion. I feel good but slip and land on my bum getting up I wipe the dirt from my rear. This part of the trail travels in between giant eucalyptus trees, smelling the strong aroma of these trees takes me back to Ethiopia. I take time to appreciate the pleasant smell of eucalyptus and memories of running in Ethiopia flood my mind. At the bottom I stop off for a quick toilet break. At Fontanales checkpoint I eat fruit, fill my bottles and am out running in less than 60 seconds leaving other runners behind, Im now in 51st position. Valle Secco comes and goes without me noticing, except this is the point the sky actually starts to change. I notice color and know it won't be long before sunrise. At Terror checkpoint I eat fruit and fill bottles, chatting with a French runner as I leave. The whole time up till now I have been eating and drinking as planned. Feeling strong I pass two runners on the relentless climb to Cruz de Tejeda.

This climb seems to never end. I begin to enter my first big low of the race. It starts as a small voice in my head, are you sure you can finish this race? I am also cold and so put on my running gloves. Like a machine my mind drives my body up this cold windy mountain. At the top is Arinez checkpoint, for the first time I take out my waterproof jacket putting it on I now feel warmer. I pick up some fruit and eat it, and then I see a large piece of salty pretzel on the table I bite into it like a wild man. The checkpoint staff have a good laugh at me. The next part is uphill through a pine forest, which at the top literally passes the drive to the mountain cabin I've been staying in for 3 weeks, this is my biggest test so far. Thoughts of entering the warm dry room in the cabin laying on the bed and covering myself in a warm blanket corrupt my mind. Just before the top a runner goes past me making eye contact, I can see that he can see I'm having a ruff time, he gives me a look of sympathy and leaves me behind. At this point I ask myself how I would feel waking up in that cabin nice and warm in bed knowing I'd quit because the race was tuff, I'm not ready to quit this race just yet. I reach the top of the climb where the forest trail meets the road, right in front of me is the drive up to the cabin, I turn right and continue running along the road leaving the warm bed behind. The quit and sleep in the cabin thoughts try to pull me back but I'm too strong and solider on.

Turning left I now hit the downhill trail. All the way to next check point at Tejeda I run fast and furious empowered by growing self belief after over coming my first low. The sun has risen, I remove the head torch and let my eyes use the light from the sun. At Tejeda check point I dance to loud music that’s played, the staff clap and cheer, they are all women in their sixty's. I feel euphoric after the downhill section and offer a kiss to one lady, she looks at me smiles and kisses the air in front of my face. I quickly realize I must have food and snot all over my big moustache. She is wise not to kiss me. I take soup and try to drink it fast immediately spitting liquid out all over the floor as it's super hot, adding water helps cool it a little. Leaving Tejeda I head towards Roque Nublo the most famous mountain on the island, due to a huge exposed rock standing upright, it's meant to represent a man’s penis. “Nuria Picas” a famous runner told a joke "What do you get if you cross a rock and a *****? a dictator!" My technique up this part is simple, hike using my Leki poles on the steep ups and run everything else. At the top two runners pass me but I pass them back straight away. Shortly after I arrive at Garinon the 85k point and also the start of the marathon. From here only 3 more climbs remain. This is the checkpoint at which runners who do not have assistance are aloud to leave a drop bag. I would have but left myself no time to do so by being unprepared.

Inside the building where the checkpoint is I eat hot food whilst the staff fill both my bottles and add ultra fuel. Three other runners are here as well as me, two are the ones who passed me not long before, they are eating the third is a solo guy with dreadlocks he's doing a full change of running kit, socks and everything. I'm first to leave having been there only 90 seconds. Now it's time for the steepest climb to the highest point on the island "Pico de las Nieves". Up I go, at the top there is a small section of road then it's a right turn onto trail which travels though pine forest, here I'm passed by the same two who passed me before, the guys from the check point. I try following but these dudes are half human, half mountain goat. So I'm left by myself on the trail. The start of my second low, I do my best to catch these guys but it is impossible, the faster I go concentrating on every footstep the more tired I become. A helicopter passes overhead reminding me of when I ran Marathon de sables.

Finally I have made it to Tunte check point, the big up hills are all done now, just two small inclines remain. Tunte is a beautiful small mountain village, one of my favorites on the island. I leave the village knowing I have a small climb but nothing drastic. I try but cannot run it, It's too late in the race to run hills and I'm too tired. At this point about 5 other runners pass me, making me feel *****. So I try a strategy of 5 seconds walk then 5 seconds run but this last's about a minute. I decide I'm close to the finish and I'll run all the flats and downhill’s but will hike the remaining uphill’s. There's something strange about these runners passing me, they all look too fresh, I can't understand but just accept they are stronger than me, maybe I'll pass them on the downhill. Each time I get passed I applaud the runner. Now the downhill to Ayagaures. I know Timothy Olson had run from Tunte to the finish in 2hrs 30mins during training, this plays on my mind but I tell myself I don't need to complete against Tim.

I relax my breathing and have calm focus, really getting a good rhythm and perfect foot placement amongst the many rocks on the trail. At Ayagaures checkpoint I sit for the second time in the race whilst eating a little bit of hot paella. Only 3 minutes pass before I'm off again towards meta sur the final checkpoint. But first I have one more uphill followed by about 6k through an empty riverbed. I set off the sun is seriously hot now and I have increased my water intake not wanting to end up in hospital like Thailand. I'm now drinking almost one litre of fluid each hour. It's working, I'm staying hydrated. I'm on the edge of burn out but still have power to move forward. The finish is now only 10 miles away but still seem's like a lot and I honestly can't believe I'm able to make it. I keep telling myself Kristian have patience you will get there. The river bed is where “Sabastion Chagnau” passes me, he's a world champion aged 45. I just keep a rhythm through this area of various sized stones. It's amazing what the human body can do when pushed. I keep a constant pace over this part soon reaching the road.

I get a feeling of achievement as I pass a group of cheering people on the first part of the road to the finish. I even get a surprise when I pass one of the two runners who had passed me after Garinon, he's walking using his poles on the flat and look's defeated. I'm now running faster entering the last checkpoint at Parc Sur, I find it funny when someone from the checkpoint holds out a chicken leg for me, I kindly refuse all that matters now is a 3k sprint to the finish. Seeing the finish line ahead I really can't believe I've actually made it, nothing can stop me now. I have done it. I cross the line not before high fiving everyone in the crowd along the final straight. What we can do when putting our mind to it. I said 16hrs and finish in 16hrs 52mins in 39th position. Not one runner had past me from the 125k race, all the runners who past me were from the shorter Advanced distance. Proud of myself I lie down and rest on the grass near the finish line in the shade. It was dreaming of doing this that got me to the finish. Thank you to my sponsor Leki. Thank you to all the people who have helped me in my running over the years

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09:26 02-03-17

Transgrancanaria 125k, Feb 2017

The positives:
1. It's a tough, hilly one - over 8000 meters of climb, most of it in the first half.
2. Being at the end of February, good chance for those in colder climes to get away for some winter sun.
3. Relatively easy to enter. The race didn't sell out until a couple of months before the event, although the early bird pricing (20 euros cheaper) ended end-October. No need for ballots.
4. Other races of several other distances (82k,42k, 30k, and 17k) take place during the same few days, allowing for a group of different abilities to pick and choose.
5. Once under way, the route marking was incredibly thorough, the best I've seen in a race.
6. Aid stations are fairly well stocked with ham, cheese, nuts, fruit, electrolytes, and coke. The latter ones also offer hot drinks and food.
7. Parts of the route are stunning (provided weather is on side) particularly the initial night section (race starts 11pm Friday) and kms 65 thru 95 over the central part of Gran Canaria.

The negatives/areas for improvement
1. Race communication - the emails are somewhat sparse and sometimes poorly translated. Poor translation also hampers much of website.
2. The optional bus ride to the Start (in Agaete, on the other side of the island from Finish/Race HQ) was a bit chaotic, with no managed queuing.
3. Once at Start, there was no central waiting area/pen, despite over an hour of wait and no facility for water refill (bottled water had to be purchased from bars/restaurants).
4. For a race of such high profile (part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, the distance marking was inconsistent. The route, for example, is 123.7kms long. At the 106.3km aid station, a sign said 19km to Finish when it should have been 17km.
5. With The North Face no longer sponsoring the event, replaced by Spanish brand HG Sport, the race bling (T-shirt, Finishers gilet, etc) didn't seem to have same quality or cache.
6. The last 10km of the race as you approach Maspalomas in the South is soul-destroying. It is over a series of dry river beds with large loose rocks and at times inside a canal. Most uninspiring.

Tying all of above up, the race is recommended and worth doing, but perhaps also worth just holding back on your expectations a touch. For sure, the scenery in the interior and the elation of taking part in and finishing a tough race makes it all worthwhile.

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12:40 24-05-16

Transgrancanaria HG

The Transgrancanaria HG or TGC HG – for short is an ultra-marathon traversing the Gran Canaria Island which is on the Ultra Trail World Tour, an international circuit bringing together the most emblematic trail running races in the world.

This is the third UTWT race of the year and one easily accessible to Europeans to kick off their year on a 125km run with 8,000m vertical ascent/descent making it a pretty epic undertaking – especially as a first race of the year.


As a big tourist spot the island is served with a well-connected airport located in the east of the island. It is in-between the start-finish line as you drive between the two points – circa 40min each side along the main road on the island. I decided to stay in Maspalomas in the south near Expo Meloneras which acted as the registration centre, the running expo pre-race and the finish line. The organisers have buses leaving from here to the start line and if you have a support crew it is a 90min drive to the start line.
In theory it is a good location for support crews – runner gets closer as the race progresses; however some of the support points in the middle of the race take longer to get to than the start line due to the roads so this should be taken into account when planning support crew stops.
I stayed in a standard hotel 8km East from the Expo centre with the added bonus of all you can eat buffets – which was great for the days leading up to the race – something I will look for in all races I do - nothing like having 6 big meals a day to set you up for a race!


Race format is interesting as the start time is 11pm on a fishing pier in the north west of the island. There are bars restaurants around and lot of music and the feeling of a really big racing event with photographers and camera crews so very different to the normal small ultras I am used to running in.

The race manual provided is very good and provides a lot of useful information and they also provide GPX files for watches. This is an ultra-trail so you are expected to navigate yourself and the GPX files are just an aid, so be warned that the GPX files are not accurate and are simplified versions of the route, the distances are also way out in sections and this can greatly impact your planned checkpoint times, so worth spending the time correcting the maps to more accurate routes to ensure accurate navigation, for example Garañon was meant to be 81.9km but was more in the region of 89km.

Online GPS tracking is provided which is great for those supporting you back home. The tracking isn’t live and will only show your time passing certain points. These checkpoints don’t always align with official checkpoints, so they may not be helpful for support teams tracking you against your target checkpoint times.

The race follows trails through the island and the way finding was excellent, I rarely had to check my map or watch for the route. The terrain was challenging and interesting with very little boring sections. It was mostly normal trails you would expect with patches of tarmac and some technical sections thrown in to make it a challenging run – especially the first 9.8km which was mostly single file only. The midpoint was at Garañon just before the highest point in the race and has a proper building, warm food & drinks and somewhere to sit.

The finishing line in Maspalomas is the same as the Expo centre which makes it easier to plan the journey home


The start is an interesting affair and is more like an over enthusiastic park run rather than a professional ultra that you would expect. There was a lot of pushing and jostling from people off the start line, and it was only after we left the road did I understand why – it soon turned into long sections of single file paths up to the first checkpoint (9.8km and 1,500m vert climb) with a number of passing sections and track roads to break it up. Perhaps a staggered start would help mitigate this issue in future as a number of runners were getting annoyed with those that were struggling on the hills, and people too high on sugar burning out quicker than they expected when they pushed too hard on the sections you can pass people on. Generally this is the kind of race that needs solid hill work training behind you to get through it – with a number of people dropping out either before or at the first checkpoint, so be warned – if you can’t do a 10km 15% incline then there is little hope for you to finish the remaining 115km of the race!
Besides the poor attitude of some runners - it was stunning to see the trail of head torches behind and ahead of me – with the darkness you get in this part of the world it was hard to tell where the line of head torches ended and the stars began.

Aid stations and checkpoints were well manned and equipped and the support crews were very supportive and friendly, at most there was a party atmosphere which was a great mental push to through the next stage. Food here was perfect – oranges, bananas, jelly babies, water and sports drink at every one of them.
For support crews the lack of detailed checkpoint information made meeting you at the support points very difficult, with patch internet connections and phone signals in areas it could be disastrous for a runner - So I would highly recommend a recon of the key locations ahead of the race, if only we had done the run out to the last 2 it would have been a different result for me - crew couldn’t find the checkpoint to give me a replacement head torch – so that was my race over with only the “downhill” section left to do from the observatory.

Besides the DNF - my race went very well – as it was a first time attempting a race with this much vertical I was only aiming to finish with the emphasis on figuring out if my nutrition and gear choices worked well for me ahead of later races this year.
The training I had been doing over the months leading up to it had a firm concentration on hills (mostly speed work on treadmills at 18% vertical) and my strength work really paid off. I was pretty much on target pace or better for most of the race, except for stopping too long in one checkpoint I was very happy with it. The route showed off some stunning parts of the island and the highlights for me had to be the line of head torches reaching the stars on the first climb, the fog slowly lifting off the fields and mountains in the morning and especially the climb up to Roque Nublo – it was the only part of the day that the sun came out and it was stunning at the top.
Weather was overcast for most of the race and someone that primarily trains in cold countries the cold of the first night was not an issue for me as it was for some other people. I can imagine if we had had good sunny weather on the weekend it would have slowed me down and only carrying 1 litre of water between checkpoints might become an issue.
Using the official GPX maps and distances - If you look at the elevation profile you can plan your race very well around that as it describes the race very well, with the technical sections primarily being the steepest parts and some of the downhill sections too technical to attempt at speed. From 25-55km it was the quickest section with the two big climbs starting from there. Surprisingly 65-70km was very run-able. The section down from Pico de Las Nieves was very technical and sadly something I couldn’t take on in the dark without my main head torch. From what I was and heard the last section through river beds is difficult and something the race organisers have reduced the amount of river sections for 2016 due to the number of complaints about it.

Watch: My watch was the Garmin Fenix 2 watch. The battery lasted 15 hours with smart data recording, after that point I used a small charger which completely re-charged it giving me plenty of power
Phone – my Blackberry Passport, amazing battery life and bullet proof performance with maps and communications, I mention it as I recently killed it on a run in the mountains – as I had it in a jiffy bag in my jacket pocket and the body heat/moisture in the bag killed the electronics. So perhaps a waterproof phone or having it in an external waterproof holder would have been a better idea.
Torches – As my main torch I used the Petzl Myo RXP – an excellent head torch and as a backup I had the miniature Petzl eLITE – not something I would recommend for another more than basics like changing the batteries on the main torch. Next time I will have the Myo RXP and eLITE plus a spare Myo RXP in my kit bag and lots of spare batteries!

Shoe: Hoka Mafate Speed. With around 30mm cushioning it was a great shoe to wear on this terrain and way more protective than the Vibram 5 Fingers I train in. They were great at reducing the impact with the ground, but I wish they had a wider fit as again I lost another toenail. At the main checkpoints I cleaned my feet and changed to fresh socks which I felt really helped, even if it used up time.

The socks I used were Hilly and the Swedish Go Coco socks. Both worked well but I still got blisters on the inside of my feet – something I now believe is not necessarily due to shoes/socks but my pronation which rubs my foot up against the inside of the shoe – for my next race I want to try taping up the inside of each foot and see if this makes a difference.

Bag: Along with most of the other competitors I had the Salomon S-Lab 12L bag and it was great, it was the first time I tried something with the water bottles in the front instead of a camelback. The two 500ml bottles allowed me to have just water in one and some Nuun rehydration tablets in the other and allowed me to properly mix up the selection of drinks during the race. I would say that a spare 250-500ml in the back is advisable on this race as I did arrive into one checkpoint without any liquids left – it wasn’t an issue for me this time but a buffer is advisable.

Poles – I used the Black Diamond Distance walking stick FLZ – again first time using poles and they were very helpful on the uphills and hassle to deal with pretty much everywhere else – the key problem I had was that I couldn’t figure out how to store them quickly even though they are the folding version – something I need to work on ahead of the next race as they were a great help and on the flats enabled me to keep a better pace up once I hit a rhythm with them.

Jacket – Ronhill Trail tempest waterproof – a jacket I have been using for years and works very well with the two easily accessible pockets in the front it was very useful for food and maps storage.

Shorts: I had S-LAB EXO Twinskins shorts – and like a lot of my gear – the first time using them on an ultra – they were amazing, I have never run anything longer than a half marathon without getting chafing in various places but with these I never had one problem – the only issue was the feeling that they were slipping down slightly and if you do a short run with them there are no pockets but besides those two niggles these are the best (and most expensive) shorts I have ever had.

T-shirt/warm layer – I used the Arc'teryx long sleeve base layer XXX throughout the entire race and found that it performed extremely well throughout the race. I only needed to top it up with a Merino Wool t-shirt on evening of the second day which helped keep my core at the right temperature

Glasses – Julbo Dust photochromic – not used as much as expected due to overcast weather but has been a very useful addition to running – mostly helps with fatigue reduction

Food – I tried a new range of food for this race and for me it worked very well. This times I had jelly babies for a general pick me up, Toru gels for when I knew there was a big climb ahead (for energy and psychological boost), GU salted Caramel Flavour gel which have caffeine in them for the mornings and evenings, Eat Natural Peanut & Chocolate bars for carbs and protein they were light and easy to eat, Nuun cola flavoured Hydration tablets and my old favourite - Dark Chocolate Bounty bars

One issue was – that I could have carried less food with me and relied on the checkpoints food – which was simple basic and perfect for what we were doing.
After thoughts
Would I do it again - Yes is the short answer – I am looking forward to being able to complete the course next year. I would recommend it as a challenging race to those that like this kind of terrain and the idea of seeing a different side to Gran Canaria that is not the usual tourist beaches and bars.

What was helpful –
The volunteers that make this event were great all along the way; I was very impressed with the badges they had at Garañon checkpoint with country flags so you could easily find someone that spoke your language
The food at the checkpoints was simple and straight forward and exactly what we need
Some of the new kit and clothes really made the race more enjoyable

What wasn’t helpful -
Car parking at the Expo centre (registration/start/finish) would have been very useful as it was difficult to get to and from especially when you may have had to park over a kilometre from it.
Lack of details from the organisers for checkpoints that you could have your own support – location details would have been very useful and made the race a bit more stress free for supporters.
My lack of research of the route, re-drawing the GPX maps like I have done on past runs, I also didn’t put much effort into proper cheat sheets for each section which I found invaluable on past races.
Batteries – usually I have my torch on a low setting as my night vision is fine for basic trails/paths but due to how technical the first section was I had it on full beam and that used up all 2 sets of batteries I had – so I would recommend to have one in the torch and 2 spare sets in your bag with another 2 sets at the bag drop point.

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