Profeet ambassador Pierre Meslet recently took part in the TGC 125km ultra marathon. Here is his full TransGranCanaria race report on this stunning event:
Let’s go back a few months to October 2016, when I looked at the UTWT racing calendar and UK races.
I chose to enter three ultras in 2017: TransGranCanaria, Race to the Stones and the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc. I was hoping that I would get lucky through the ballot for UTMB and luckily enough I did!
My winter preparation had been good and I had recovered well from the incredible Ultra Trail Cote d’Azur Mercantour (UTCAM) in September. I did know that I was lacking elevation training, both ascent and descent, something that’s difficult to train for living in Central London.
However, I had a good preparation for about three months and even managed a sub 3-hour marathon PB on a casual Friday afternoon [I wasn’t quite able to repeat that at the Brighton Marathon last week, missing it by…45 seconds).
I arrived in Las Palmas and headed south to the town of Maspalomas where the event village and my hotel were. After dropping my bag, I went straight to Expomeloneras to collect my race bib and get a feel of the atmosphere.
It was sunny and about 20C in town, with many spectators out cheering in the racers arriving from the marathon.
I didn’t stay long though as I wanted to get back to the hotel and head out for a post-flight run on the beach. The south of the island has plenty of sand dunes and I stayed in this beautiful playground for almost two hours before heading back to the hotel to rest and get a massage.
I woke up Friday morning feeling rested and super motivated for the race. I wasn’t really looking forward to waiting all day for a race start at 11pm. I prefer a morning start when the body is actually physically awake!
The start was at 11pm and we soon arrived at the bottom of the first ascent that would stretch the peloton. Head torches created a beautiful undulating tail that moved on each turn like a snake going up the mountain. I had rarely seen such a fabulous show in a running event!
My race plan was to stay conservative throughout the night and enjoy the light show. The first three hours were tough: we kept ascending, but my body seemed to be in sleep mode.
I tried to find my own rhythm, moving steadily and remembering to eat and drink every 10-15 minutes. The night was young and I stayed focused on my footing and everyone around me. Night runs are always special – vision is altered and your perspective on rocks and terrain are totally different from daytime.
Checkpoints were every 9-14 kilometres and I stopped a few seconds only each time to reload water and grab a banana, orange or crisps that I ate on the go.
The sun rose and I was able to switch off my head torch and enjoy the view. Green fields were stretching before our eyes, with trails full of cacti near Valleseco and Teror.
By midday I was still running along and impressed by the overall pace. I couldn’t believe that we were still running in packs of four, five or more runners at a time: in all my previous ultra races I had run almost alone after the first 3 or 4 hours.
During flat sections and uphills I practiced my Spanish and chatted with several runners about the terrain, the beauty of the island and the good race organisation. All the runners I met were really friendly and everyone seemed to have a good time.
The afternoon was really warm and I was happy to arrive at the Garañon check point where I spent twenty minutes changing my socks, shoes and shirt, reloaded my bottles and ate some salty solid food.
Despite the heat, I decided to wear a long-sleeved technical top as it would protect me from the afternoon sun and keep me warm in the night to come. I also had the rather strange idea to put ice cubes in my sleeves and hood, and whenever we crossed rivers, I would splash myself with fresh water. This really helped me carry on at a good pace and I didn’t suffer from the heat at all.
After a U-turn section at the Roque Nublo, most of the difficult climbs and very technical paths were behind us. The sun was coming down and suddenly it was time to light my head torch again.
The downhills were not very technical but the muscle fatigue and all-over body aches made it difficult to gather speed. I was reduced to a fast hike and a slow jog on flat sections. It is only when I saw the ‘5km to go’ sign and saw on my watch that I’d been going 23h40min that I thought – and I was seriously lacking proper judgement by then! – that it would be possible to run sub 24 hours.
Ignoring the pain, straightening my back, focusing on my breathing and my gait, I increased the pace up to 4’00”/km. The feeling didn’t last long: after 3km, I realised I had been kidding myself. How could I run a sub 20-minute 5km after 120km? But I gave it my best shot and crossed the finish line in 24h04’06”, exhausted, breathless but so happy!
I would like to thank my wife for her continuous support for my passion of running: thank you for looking after our baby daughter whilst I was embarking on this amazing journey.
Thanks to my sponsor Profeet for their expert advice on footwear, insoles and technical gear.
Thanks also to all my friends and family for all their words of encouragement before, during and after the race, especially Roberto for staying with me at the finish line past midnight and helping me to get back to the hotel in one piece.