A look back of their journey on the GR 131 routes, in the Canary Islands.
On November 22nd, Luca Papi and Philippe Verdier kicked off a unique project: covering the 8 Canary Islands, from east to west, running on the GR131 routes
A week later, on December 1st, their adventure ended on el Hierro island: 550km and 22,500 of m+ in 120h - they did it! To give you an idea, this equals to an intermediate pace of 14:50 per kilometer. A real feat, considering the extreme conditions they had to face. Indeed, from the 5th stage in Tenerife, rain, cold and wind decided to join the trip ...
However, the adventure had started under the regular great sun of the Canary Islands!
They stepped over the first 3 islands, without the need to take the slightest break, tells Philippe. “We had the same cruising rhythm in ascent, descent and on the flat, not like our last experience as a duo during the Échappée Belle".
It’s from Gran Canaria, the fourth step, that the two men started to feel the fatigue accumulation. From there, they took a few naps when the opportunity arose: "2 hours in a truck provided by the owner of the restaurant where we had dinner, 30 minutes on the forest road, 1 hour during the transfer in the assistance car", Philippe tells us.
Managing resting times can quickly become complicated, especially because you have to find sleep at the same time as your pair. "With Philippe, honestly, it went really well, most of the time, we managed to take our breaks together", confides Luca.
We mentioned a complicated weather in the introduction… Indeed, from Tenerife, the 5th island, things started to get worse!
The objective was to climb to the top of the Canary Islands, on the Teide stratovolcano, peaking at 3,715m. But the weather decided otherwise: the thermometer showed -7° at the summit! After already more than 40km in the rain and the cold, Luca and Philippe decided to give up the idea, avoiding an unnecessary stay in hospital...
Finally, the weather has been the most difficult part for the two men, who are both much more comfortable in the heat. Philippe added that "what suffered the most are the feet. Because of the rain, they marinated in the water. The skin became wrinkled and cracked and the arch of the foot, hyper sensitive to each step”.
During these moments, when both the body and mind are both highly challenged, evolve as a pair became Luca and Philippe's greatest strength:
"Facing such conditions with a teammate is much easier, we feel safe and decisions are made in a more thoughtful and lucid way" explains Philippe.
Hopefully, they were properly equipped, including the Ultra Rain Jacket and the Ultra Rain Pants, which resisted to the torrential rains that fell on them. Philippe’s revelation, the Ultra Light Jacket which became an excellent ally: "The Light Jacket surprised me in an excellent product, it remains effective even in heavy rain and wind. It is an excellent product, light, and it provides a warm feeling when you put it on". It makes even more sense why it’s Luca's WAA favorite with the Ultra Carrier Shirt 3.0.
Finally, the two ultra-trailers also modified their routes on La Gomera and La Palma islands. There was no other option if they wanted to deal with the extreme conditions while respecting the boats' schedules. They held on, until the end: they even surpassed themselves on the last kilometer on El Hierro island "at more than 17 km/h, downhill, we admit", as they say! Immense respect, congratulations guys.
Great projects are coming for 2021, we will share it with you very soon.
Summary of the stages:
Stage 1 : La Graciosa - 26,15km et 489m+ in 3h10
Stage 2 : Lanzarote - 71,60km et 1.569m+ in 10h25
Stage 3 : Fuerteventura - 130,44km et 3.367m+ in 21h56
Stage 4 : Gran Canaria - 60,42km et 2.572m+ in 17h44
Stage 5 : Tenerife - 64,02km et 3.049m+ in 12h33
Stage 6 : La Gomera - 40,7km et 2.760m+ in 9h
Stage 7 : La Palma - 111,95km et 6.666m+ in 38h52h
Stage 8 : El Hierro - 43,55km et 2.043m+ in 6h28
Find all their equipment here
Photos: Janira Ojeda