Venga! Venga! - Page 2
Photo by Chris Hunter
One of the Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco, La Palma has several defining characteristics: massive, rocky volcanoes that jut straight up from the sea, black volcanic sand and forests of broad-leafed banana trees that resemble squat palm trees. Even the Atlantic Ocean is different here—a rich turquoise hue that looks as though some overzealous Photoshopper cranked up the color saturation too high.
The inaugural Transvulcania 83K took place on La Palma Island in 2009, with fewer than 400 runners. Though the race has grown exponentially each year since, it didn’t truly land on the world’s radar screen until the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) picked it up. Devoted to the sport of racing steep courses at altitude through some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, ISF expanded its Skyrunner World Series to include a new Ultra division in 2012—and they chose Transvulcania to kick it off.
The course boasts nearly 15,000 feet of climbing—most of which occurs in the first 58 kilometers as runners climb straight up, save for a few forgiving, rolling ridgelines, from sea level to nearly 8,000 feet at the island’s famous astronomical observatory, Roque de los Muchachos.
After big-name sponsor Salomon jumped on the Transvulcania bandwagon, elite athletes and media outlets were invited in droves to the 2012 race. Both the women’s and men’s records were obliterated. Jones crushed the course in just under seven hours. Anna Frost, or “Frosty”, as she likes to be called, 31, of New Zealand, finished in 8:11, lopping nearly two hours off the previous year’s record and a full five and a half hours off the women’s inaugural winning time just three years prior.
This year, though Jones did not plan to return, many were calling the race roster the most competitive international field ever, with the likes of Kilian Jornet (Spain), Thomas Lorblanchet (France), Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain), Anton Krupicka (USA), Sage Canaday (USA) and Timothy Olson (USA) all promising to compete. With Frosty withdrawing just a week before the race, the women’s race was predicted to be a battle between Norway’s Emelie Forsberg and Spain’s Nuria Picas.