After a 24 hour flight via Amsterdam I finally arrived in Gran Canaria 7 days before the race started. I spent the first few days in Garanon which at +- 1700m above sea level is the halfway point of the race. The trails in the area are insane with some crazy rock formations and mind blowing landscapes. Wow!! …it got cold at night so after a few days up in Garanon I was relieved to move down to the coast near the race finish.
Being the first race of my 2013 season I was really nervous going into the race and did not know what to expect. I really wanted a victory in Europe to tick off my goal of winning an ultra trail race on all seven continents. This definitely lead to my pre race nerves as I can be quite harsh on myself at times. I was also very excited and looking forward to the challenge of climbing 4000m + over the 83km. I have always been better suited to the ‘flatter’ trail races so I have been doing some work on my climbing over the past few months to try and get up to scratch with some of the ‘mountain goats’.
Before I knew it the big day arrived…
Faaaak my hotel room alarm clock was going off but it still felt way to early to get up. I looked at my watch and it was only 12 o clock! I set the alarm for the wrong time…not so smart! I reset it and went back to sleep for an hour or two before getting up and catching the race bus to the start line.
It was quite cold and windy at the start and rain was expected during the race. With a 1300m climb over the first 9km I warmed up very quickly and settled into a comfortable rhythm. I made sure the lead runners were always within my sight and I enjoyed the awesome scenery. The crowd support at every European trail race I have run has been incredible and their passion for trail running is really inspiring. The higher into the mountains we went the colder, wetter and more windy it got. I found myself bum sliding down one or two hills … this was not a planned move. It started to get really cold and the visibility was not great, but I knew Garanon ( half way point aid station) was just a few km’s away. I stopped at the aid station for a few minutes to make sure I ate and drank lot’s before heading out for the final 42km’s. Phillip from Germany was in and out of the aid station like a flash but after about 1km I caught up to him and passed. I was now in the lead but most importantly I was feeling strong and ready to push on to the finish line.
The 83km runners joined onto the same trail as the marathon and half marathon runners and it was great to have lot’s of company all the way to the finish line. I have said it before and will say it again that I have huge respect for the guys finishing towards the back of the field. Their mental strength and positive attitude to keep going for so long is insane! As I ran past a number of the spectators they shouted …vamos animal (thats what it sounded like) … I think and hope this was a compliment and meant.. go you animal and not that I looked like some rabies infested animal!
I was really having fun out there and enjoying the whole experience, but with about 15km to go it started to get quite hot and my legs started to feel a bit heavy and tired. I ran into the final aid station and with 8km to go I knew the race was in the bag if I just kept running at my same pace for the final km’s. I started to hear more and more shouts of vamos animal… again I hope this was a compliment and not that I was not looking more and more like a possessed animal.
With about 4km to go I could see the ocean and finish area down below and started to get excited. I had a great time out there but now my body and legs were telling me that 83km was enough for my first race of the year. The final few hundred meters was a bit of a blur running through a tunnel of cheering spectators and then onto the red carpet. BOOM!! I had won and achieved my goal of winning an ultra trail race on every continent.
Check on my move on Suunto Movescount:
I was super stoked with how the race went and I have some really epic memories of my week spent in Gran Canaria. Thanks to Wendy, Celeste and the TransGranCanaria team for putting on a great event and being so accommodating. I hope to be back sooner than later!
To my ‘Dream Givers’ I can’t thank you enough for your support and making my dreams come true! Velocity Sports Lab, Salomon, Red Bull, Oakley, Cross Country and Suunto.. Thank you Thank you!
Thanks to my support team who keep me injury free, focused and continuously improving. Thank you Chris, Lawrence, Benita, Nicole, Wille, Michael, Sally, Ian and Kelly!
Thanks to my family, friends, and all of you who have supported and inspired me along the way!
I am hungrier and more focused than ever to continue trying to improve as an athlete and be the best I can be. Most importantly I want to continue having fun and making the most of my time on this planet. My next race is TNF Aus 100 in May and then it’s Western States 100 June … I can’t wait!
Keep you posted!