Arguably the most exciting trail running race so far this year is The North Face Transgrancanaria 125km trail run, held on the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa.
Several of the world’s leading names in trail running were present.
As it turned out, this year’s men’s champion was none other than South African trail running sensation Ryan Sandes aka The Sandman, who had a sensational run. He leads the Ultra Trail World Tour points table as a result.
He finished with an almost nine minute lead over second place Frenchman Julien Chorier and 11 minutes over third position American Timmy Olson.
“I was really stoked with how the race played out for me on Saturday. My plan was to run the first half of the race conservatively and save something for the second half of the race,” says Ryan Sandes. “Everything went according to plan, apart from running out of water twice but I only have myself to blame for that. It was awesome to cross the finish line in first place as it was a really stacked field and I wanted to get 2014 off to a good start. I think it is right up there as one of my biggest wins, with the likes of Leadville and winning the 4 Desert series. After last year it was very sweet to start of 2014 with a big win. A massive congrats to all runners who took part in the race.”
Celebrations were short-lived when Ryan discovered on social media the next morning that he had been disqualified from the race. “After crossing the finish line I went through a second mandatory gear check (the first gear check was at 82km). I was asked for my jacket, cellphone and ‘cover’. I showed them my jacket and cellphone and asked what a ‘cover’ was. I showed them my jacket again as I thought that is what they meant by cover. The person doing the gear check said OK, walked off and nothing more was said,” explains Ryan.
“I was shocked to hear via social media, the next day and an hour before prize giving, that I had been disqualified for not having a space/emergency blanket as I had carried one with me the whole way and had shown it to officials at mandatory gear check at the 82km mark. The issue was obviously a translation misunderstanding at the finish. The race judge was not part of the TransGranCanaria race organization (race judges form part of the Spanish Trail Running Federation) and hence I was not kept in the loop about what was going on. I appealed my disqualification and the situation was resolved very swiftly and professionally. Thanks to all those involved for rectifying the situation.”
Ryan’s highlight of the event? “The race vibe is awesome and the whole island comes out to support the race. The scenery is also incredible and one of the most beautiful places I have run. Ha! But other highlights were the beer I had after prizegiving and then sorting out the whole disqualification issue… that aged me 10 years!”
Overall winning times for the top 3 finishers in the 125km North Face Transgrancanaria
Ryan’s next adventure will be his record attempt for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse with fellow South African and adventure race, Ryno Griesel. http://www.redbull.com/za/en/adventure/events/1331625638350/drakensberg-grand-traverse
His next big goal: To compete at and claim one event title that has eluded him until now. He told us: “Western States 100 for sure! I was going to be running The North Face Australia but may run Ultra Trail Mount Fuji instead as that will give me better points in the Ultra Trail World Tour which I am leading after Saturday’s race.”
For more info on Ryan and to see what he is up to next follow him on Twitter @RyanSandes or visit his website http://www.ryansandes.com
Find him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Ryan.Sandes.Ultra.Marathon.Runner