A new star and a course record on Isla Bonita
Transvulcania Ultramarathon never disappoints, since 2012 and the addition to the Skyrunner World Series, the race on the idyllic island of La Palma in the Canaries has gone from strength-to-strength. In 2017, we saw the confirmation of a new star – Ida Nilsson from Sweden and we witnessed the rise of a new star, Timothy Lee Freriks from the USA.
Ida Nilsson repeated her 2016 victory with a standout performance that dominated the ladies’ field. It resulted in a course record 8:04:00 bettering the the two previous record held by Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg – the queens of Skyrunning!
Tim Freriks came from nowhere… he wasn’t even on any pre-race previews he was so unknown. However, word on the trails in the 24-hours before the start was Freriks was in La Palma, ‘to of hard or go home!’ Go hard he did and he repeated the rewards of victory at one of the worlds most iconic ultra races.
The day started at 0600 in the south of the island at Fuencaliente lighthouse – the glow of almost 2000 head torches breaking that blackness of the sky. Even the amazing stars (La Palma is known for stargazing due to clear skies and a lack of noise pollution) could not be seen with the impressive glow of the runners lights.
Heading north, the ladies race very much was dominated by Ida Nilsson, she lead from the front, at first slowly but surely extending her lead and then when the course reached higher altitudes, the 2016 Transvulcania winner applied the pressure and opened up the gap over her competition not only to win the race but set a new course record 8:04:17. It was a stunning run that came as no surprise. Anne Lise Rousset matched her 2016 performance with 2nd place and a solid race biding her time and keeping a consistent pace. The USA’s Hillary Allen moved up to 3rd place passing Ragna Debats.
Freriks and Hawks duelled the early miles together passing through El Pilar with seconds between them. It was as the caldera arrived and the run around the rim to Roques de los Muchachos that Freriks dropped his fellow American. Although still in 2nd Hawks would later lose that place and move down the field as sickness took hold.
Following was Pommeret, Martin, Capell, Owens, Thevenard, Schlarb, Malek and many of the other big hitters and lee race favourites. But Freriks was too fast. He extended his lead and crossed the line in Los Llanos in just over 7-hours.
Pommeret consolidated 2nd on the long 18km descent from the 2400+m summit all the way to the sea and arrived to a applause – the 2016 UTMB champ gaining a podium place.
The Ling descent punished the favourites, in particular Owens who suffered terrible foot pain and was forced to slow down. Malek though was on fire, he moved through the field took the final podium place. A great result for the Moroccan who lives in Spain.
Since 2012, Transvulcania Ultramarathon has never disappointed, it is arguably one of the greatest courses and finish lines out there. The 2018 edition will no doubt be as equally as impressive.