Nella gara “Regina” da 126km vittorie di Raul Butaci and Courtney Dauwalter 

The North Face Transgrancanaria 2024 did not disappoint thanks to its high level of competition. The third race of the Gran Canaria World Trail Majors series had victories from Courtney Dauwalter and Raul Butaci after some hard racing. In a week where over 4500 runners gathered on the Island, the main event, the Classic, with 126 Km and 6800 metres of elevation, once again served up one of the best ultra trail races in the world.

The North Face Transgrancanaria, a world-class event

During the presentation of the elite runners, it was possible to make the first bets on the potential performances, for many of them early in the calendar, for most of them in conditions in which they do not usually train, but for all of them a motivation, because the best runners always want to participate in the best events.

The North Face Transgrancanaria has established itself as a large gathering of some of the best runners in the world, as well as a personal challenge for the thousands of runners who “battle” with the climbs, descents, rocky terrain, and big temperature variation for February. Now in its 25th year and included in a world series of races that has just announced a new title sponsor, Gran Canaria World Trail Majors.

126 Km and +6804 m of pure emotion

The main event of the North Face Transgrancanaria races is called the Classic, it started at midnight on Friday night on the beach of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a party atmosphere as the hundreds of head torches spread along the beach and then off into the distance, a ribbon of lights weaving like a white snake towards the centre of the island, it is a sight to be seen. The pre-race nerves, and the self-doubts began to clear from the runners minds as they crossed the sands on the beach and the self-belief of all those training hours start to take effect in the long, dark night of Gran Canaria where the hard race was fought.

Live streaming of the event, in English, Spanish and for the first time in its history in Chinese, allowed followers around the world to see the progress of runners as they raced the narrow, stony paths crossing the whole island, climbing some of its major peaks including the Roque Nublo which is a famous landmark in the race that has put Gran Canaria on the world map. Then racing that final downhill to the finish line in Maspalomas.

Courtney doubles!

In the women’s race, the American Courtney Dauwalter (Salomon), considered by many as the G.O.A.T, was the one to watch, choosing Gran Canaria as the start of her race season once again, a real privilege for Transgrancanaria.

Facing up against her were a bunch of motivated runners including: Claudia Tremps (Spain, On), Dominika Stelmach (Poland, Team Stelmach/Suunto), Yuri Yoshizumi (Japan, Scarpa), Gemma Arenas (Spain, Joma), Ida-Sophie Hegemann (Germany, The North Face), Jingyan Tang (China, Salomon) and Emma Stuart (Ireland, Scarpa), all hoping to take the race to Courtney…

The couldn’t. Courtney showed once again why she is the best. Dominated the race from the start, with a solid pace, facing the rigorous weather in the highest sections and dealing with the gap she created until the finishing line. Behind, the duel was during many kilometres between two Spanish: Claudia Tremps beat Gemma Arenas for behind second and Arenas dropped. The third spot was then open and the Irish Emma Stuart did her best to close the podium positions.

Raul Butaci, the strongest in Gran Canaria

The men’s race was more open, with more uncertainty, which made it very interesting for the spectators on the trail and for those who were able to follow the live streaming from a distance. A calculating Zach Miller (USA, The North Face); the Chinese star in Jiasheng Shen (The North Face); second last year, so “only” the victory will do for Miguel Arsénio (Portugal, Sport HG/Aml Sport); the fabulous La Sportiva Italian athlete, Andreas Reiterer; and a very experienced “old dog” Miguel Heras (Spain, Joma). An unquestionable quality of runners fighting for one of the most prized crowns in world trail running, and as part of the new Gran Canaria World Trail Majors series, giving the race additional importance.

Probably not well known internationally, Raul Butaci (Rumania, BigK) lives in Spain and his potential finally emerged in one of the best races in the world. Dominated with style, always with the pressure of the veteran Miguel Heras (Spain, Joma) and his compatriot, but also living in Spain, Ionel Cristian Manole (Rumanía, Big K). The fight was with few minutes between them even in finally the gap was bigger at the Maspalomas finish line.

Participants had to deal with the cold and strong winds in the top spots showing the island is much more than sun and warm temperatures. Raul managed superbly all the conditions, set the pace and had no fear in leading during a good part of the race and knew how to improve his 4th from last edition.

Abel Carretero (Spain, Otso) was fourth just a couple of seconds from the podium, Jiasheng Shen was 5th (he has a DNF in the island), Andreu Simón (Spain, Asics, winner last year) was sixth and Zach Miller was finally 7th.

Serious competition, from the Vertical Kilometre to the Advanced

If there is one thing that differentiates a good race from a great race, it is the competitiveness. The North Face Transgrancanaria has long since crossed that line and all the races have been great races due to their extraordinary level of competition.

The week started with the shortest and most explosive race, the Vertical Kilometre-El Gigante, where runners give absolutely everything in just 5.5 Km and 1060 metres of elevation. American Katie Schide (The North Face) and Italian Henri Aymonod (The North Face) emerged victorious.

A day later, the turn of the Starter, a half marathon with +1400 m Katarzyna Solińska (Poland, On) and Antonio Martínez (Spain, Asics) took the podium with authority and raced at a pace that seemed improbable given the high temperatures that dawned on the island. The level of trail running, helped by the increased number of professionals in the sport, is being pushed to higher heights that seemed impossible before.

The races continued and Friday saw the turn of the Marathon (46 Km, +1900 m), the fiercely contested “intermediate” distance that on this occasion was a race for second and third in the women’s and the men’s race. With Jennifer Lichter (U.S.A.) and Robert Pkemoi (Kenya) taking the victory well clear of the rest. Second went to Greta Garcia Morán (Spain) and Juho Ylinen (Finland) who were over 9 and 6 minutes behind respectively. Third places were closer fought, going to Rosa María Lara Feliu (Spain) and Tiago Viera (Portugal).