Race Report – Trans Gran Canaria 17 km

The Trans Gran Canaria is a very popular race with participants from all over the world and especially from northern Europe. This fact is maybe not surprising when you consider that the weather on the Canary Islands in February is slightly better than in Sweden or Germany.

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Not bad for a morning in February, but dark clouds coming in.

I already wanted to participate last year but had no time to do so. Even for this years edition I was quite uncertain because most accomodations were fully booked or very expensive. Also I didn’t feel like going on my own. In the end the stars aligned: my husband got some time off and we found a cheap hostel away from the crowded tourist spots.

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The one thing that didn’t fall into place was the weather forcast. Instead of the expected sunshine, there was a severe storm approaching the islands. The Trans Gran Canaria consists of six different distances: 265 km, 125 km, 62 km, 42 km, 30 km and 17 km. Some of these can of course not be finished within a day, which led to some changes in the schedule, all due to the storm. Fortunately enough nothing of this affected my race and I was able to start as planned on Saturday morning.

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My equipment

Above you can see what I wore and brought in my pack. The choice of gear wasn’t really that hard, since we were given a list of mandatory equipment.

Saturday morning started with the alarm going of at 04:45. I wasn’t really feeling it, but who does at that time of the day? We drove to Maspalomas, where we picked up a friend and I dropped my husband and her by the bus shuttle. They were both participating in the 30 km race, which started a bit earlier than my competition. I parked the rental car and had a portion of freeze dried chocolate müsli for breakfast. It was good to eat with no rush and to get 500 calories. I left the car and also made my way to the shuttle busses that bring all competitors to the start line. I immediately met some swedish girls and it felt good to know that we were in this adventure together.

The bus drove on a narrow road through the mountains and it was so dark that I couldn’t really see much of the landscape. I could just feel all the serpentines in my stomach. We arrived to the tiny village of Ayagaures, just as it got light. It was pretty cold and I wore all the clothes I had with me but was still freezing.

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The view from Ayagaures

Kilometer 1 to 3: The race started finally after a felt eternity of standing outside and freezing. I got myself a good spot in the third row to ensure that I would not get caught in a slow group. I assumed that the first three kilometers would be the hardest of the race because they are a continuous uphill. It turned out that the gravel road was wide and easy to run on, the gradient was not too steep. I kept a reasonably good pace, even if I had to walk the steeper sections, to keep my heart rate down. Nothing good comes from too much lactic acid during the first part of a race. Or any run basically.

Kilometer 4 and 5: Finally downhill! Or so I thought… The trail became narrow and very steep. Loose rocks and mud everywhere. It was definitely not easy but still runnable. Unfortunately some people ahead of me started to walk and it was quite a task to overtake them on the winding path. I ran past a group of runners around a woman lying on the ground and I heard them talking to the police. A wrong step on this trail could easily result in injury. It felt quite slow but afterall my pace was not too bad.

Kilometer 6 to 10: The trail became a bit easier but was now running in a dry riverbed, or a ravine. It wasn’t that steep anymore but the ground was still extremely uneven and it was hard to always stay focussed on the next step. I walked through some muddy and especially rocky parts and used those moments to drink some Isostar. I still felt fresh and full of energy, although the temperature made it a bit harder to keep my pulse low. No surprise, considering that I ran the whole winter in temperatures around freezing.

Kilometer 11 to 13: The trail became a wider dirt road again and the first buildings came in sight. I started to feel a bit tired in my legs but also thought that there wasn’t a lot of time left before I would reach the finish line.

Kilometer 14: This was the point where it all went wrong. I was running through an old concrete ravine with loose rocks and bits of asphalt, when I misjudged the height of a big stone and fell full force. Fortunately I could brake my fall with my hands, otherwise I would have probably cracked some teeth and my nose. Still, the impact was quite hard and both knees and the palms of my hands started to bleed immediately. Two runners that were directly ahead of my turned around to help me up. I knew they wanted to be friendly but I don’t really know how to answer the question “are you okay?” when I’m still full with adrenaline and in shock. I took a quick look at my knees and decided that it would be possible to finish the race.

Kilometers 15 to 17: On the last kilometers the course was no trail but mostly asphalt but I couldn’t turn this advantage into a faster pace. Somehow the fall and the pain just drained my energy and I  wanted to stop running. I passed the last aid station and a friendly volunteer stopped me to wash the dirt out of my knees. After that I jogged and walked in intervals but couldn’t find my way back into a comfortable pace. Closer to the finish line the number of spectators increased and everybody looked at my bleeding legs. To be honest that gave me quite some anxiety because I couldn’t really feel what was wrong with my body. The last couple of hundred meters into the finish were just incredible, cheering people everywhere, loud music, spectators taking pictures and a speaker commenting on the incoming finishers.

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After the finish: I received my participants medal and immediately a volunteer brought me to the medical tent, where they cleaned my hands and knees and closed the deeper cuts with dermal adhesive (which is a more modern form of suture). After that I finally got to relax a bit and lied down in the grass to check on my phone how my husband and some other runners were doing.

I figured out that I came 36th out of 137 female participants, which is really quite good for me. My official finishing time was 02:12:21 for 17,4 km. And the terrain was really not easy, even if the bigger part of the race went downhill.

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The morning after. I can hardly bend my legs to sit down.

 

 

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Overall I can say that I really enjoyed the race and got to know a lot of amazing people. All the volunteers were super friendly and helpful and the event was extraordinarily well organized. This will definitely not be the last time for me on Gran Canaria or in this race!

Now we are lucky enough to get to spend some more days here to relax and recover!

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