I'll have to keep this post pretty short and to the point, as my internet connection is slow and spotty at best. I've been on the beautiful island of La Palma for 5 days now, and really enjoying being here. Similar to the Hawaiian Islands, the Canaries are pretty much big volcanoes just peeking out of the ocean. If you poke around the Transvlcania website, you can see that the race course covers a large swath of the island. We run North from the southern tip, then swing West, following the mountain ridge the entire way. We start at sea level, climb straight up to 1900m, roll along for another 35km, then tackle a huge descent from 2450m back down to sea level.....and then we finish of with a sadistic 5km climb.
I'll give you guys the abbreviated version of what I've been up to...
Saturday : Landed in Santa Cruz de La Palma, grabbed my rental car, and made my way across the island to Puerto Tazacorte to my accommodations. I have to say, even the drive was pretty amazing. I went for a jog around the town before grabbing a few groceries and packing it in for the evening.
Sunday: got up early and drove to Los Canarios, which is at the 7km point of the race. I tackled about 9km of climbing, to the top of this first ascent, then looped back down. I'm so glad I got to see this section before race day. It started off in a pine forest, and ended up on the top of Mars (or so it felt). It wasn't quite as I expected. Not harder or easier, just different terrain. After getting back home and having some lunch, I decided to go explore a technical section of the LONG descent into Tazacorte. Let's just say that things didn't quite go as I had planned...
As you can see, the rocks around here are sharp and unforgiving. If had done the same 'tuck-and-roll' in North Vancouver, I would have most likely ran away without a scratch. I can't really lay the blame on the hiker/tourist i was dodging when it happened. I was just moving too fast for the traffic and conditions on the trail. That evening I struggled to find an open pharmacy as I really needed to take care of my wounds....fun stuff
Monday: I was pretty damn sore when I woke up, more worried about my knee than my arm. I went out for a very light jog just to see how tender I really was. Thankfully my wounds seemed to be all superficial, and running was fine. After some lunch I headed back across the island to Santa Cruz to meet Kristina Pattison at the airport, and then on to Faro de Fuencaliente - the location of the start. (Before travelling here, Ellie Greenwood had put me in contact with Kristina. Kristina kicked some ass here last year and placed 6th, so I had reached out to her for as much info as possible about the race.) We tackled the first 7km climb (up and back down) of the route into Los Cararios. It was more than helpful to have Kristina to help me wrap my head around on how things will start on Saturday. I do feel a bit guilty though, as Kristina was/is feeling rough because of a stomach bug...and I have been dragging her all around the island like she's my tour guide.
Tuesday: I snuck in another solo sunrise run down at the beach, checking out the final 5km leg of the race. That section is definitely going to be tough, and i want to be the guy who makes it look easy. After some breakfast, i hopped in the car and headed with Kristina to the high point on the race course - Roque de Los Muchachos (2450m at the 52 km point). We did a really light 90 minute run, just getting a feel for the terrain and altitude. Given the elevation, and LA Palma being free of light-pollutiin, Roque is the perfect spot for an observatory...several of them actually
Wednesday: Day off of running (though I did go for a short hike). I did kinda* get my race package sorted out, and a local sim card for my emergency phone (part of the mandatory kit).
Thursday: Once again, I dragged Kristina along to check out one of the major aid stations - El Pilar. It was a short drive for only a 40 minute run, but well worth it. The course drops down from the bare, alien landscape, into a beautiful evergreen forest.
After I did a short jog with a few quick pick-ups, we headed in to Los Llanos (just a few kms from Tazacorte) to the expo. Kristina got her race package, and we both took care of a couple small errands. Yesterday there was some confusion with my registration, but was all fine today (so I won't have to bandit the race ..hahahaha).
One major point of note, something that is in-your-face obvious, is that the first climb of this race can easisly ruin your day. I'm sure the start will be chaotic and aggressive, but i am promissing myself not to get caught up in heat of the moment. My best race will happen with a conservative first 20km, ratcheting up my effort for the next 32km, then going full gas for the last 22km...I just need to stick to that plan on Saturday.
Feet up for the rest of today. A couple light jogs tomorrow, then kick some ass on Saturday.