His crazy challenge
In 2017, after his win on the Transgrancanaria 360°, Luca had this kind of crazy idea he is the only one capable to have. His goal is to run the TGC 360° and the TGC “classic” consecutively, two ultra trails in a row with a limit of time. That is what he tried to do in February 2018. He finished 3rd of the first race and he was on time for the second one. Unfortunately, he had to give up at the 70th km of the TGC as he was “feeling a bit dehydrated from the 360°”.
But Luca Papi isn’t the kind of guys who gives up easily… Next month, he will try again! On Wednesday, 20th of February at 9 am, he will be starting the Transgrancanaria 360°. About 270 km with +13 000m. He will have to finish it under 62 hours to be able to leave on the Transgrancanaria “classic” (or TGC), which is 127 km long with +7000m and starts on Friday at 11 pm. “The idea would be to arrive on Friday afternoon in a relatively good shape to be able to start the other race.” If you calculate, we talk about 400 km with an elevation gain of 20 km within 4 days. That’s all. In fact the most impressive is how relax he is when he mentions it, as it would be something common.
Here it is not “only” about stamina but also about “speed” or at least performance. Indeed, being able to start the second race is amazing in itself as you need to run the first one in a very good time - “If I want to complete my challenge, I will have to finish the first race on the podium, that’s mandatory.”
The motivations behind this challenge
We may think, why this challenge? Why impose this to yourself? For the reputation or glory? To appear in the records book? To discover and go beyond your limits? None of that. The answer is even more baffling. “Not to choose…” Luca is so passionate by trail running, that he wants to run all the races possible. That is why he competes every weekend and even sometimes several times per weekend. It has become a way of life for him. He tells us with a disconcerting innocence: “There is enough time between the two races, so I will try to do both of them.” Period. At the end he does not seek attention, he “just want to have fun”.
“I wanted to race again the TGC, but I also love the 360°… The thing is I don’t like to choose between the two so I do both of them. That’s what drives me to accomplish such challenges.” An indecision which leads him to crazy adventures!
The second chance
This year, he tries again… We asked him how he would proceed to complete his challenge this time. He foresees two options to succeed. Either “doing the 360° in a comparable or shorter time than last year (thus 53h) and finishing in a better shape”. Or “doing it in less time and finishing in a similar shape”. He says that it won’t depend only from him but also from the racecourse (which changes a bit every year). He talked with the race director, who did la Petite Trotte à Léon last summer (a 300 km ultra trail with 25 000m elevation gain in the Alps), and this man told him that he thought he could do something harder this year for the 360°. This means that Luca will “really need to finish in a good time the first race to be able to start the second one”. Yes, if not it would be too easy...
The race management
Even if he knows he would have to end up on the podium if he wants to leave again, Luca does not put himself extra pressure with the ranking. He even gives us a lesson in humility: “To me the ranking on this type of races does not depend on me, it is up to the others. If some are faster than me, then good, they will be faster.” He tells us that everyone has its own race management tactic and : “Nobody should manage his race depending on the ranking on this distance, the only result would be to explode afterwards.”
This sword of Damocles, represented by the clock, makes his race management even harder as he must conserve energy to hold the total distance, but finishing the 360° the fastest possible to be able to leave again and get some rest. He says he does not anticipate too much and does not think about the second race while running the first one except at the very end. “It is only 5 to 10 hours before the end of the 360°, when I know that I will have enough time to run the other race, that I start to conserve energy.” He adds that: “After all, the idea will be to listen to my body as much as possible, even more than last year.”
As we do, you should ask yourself about the organisation of the whole challenge and about what one should do between the two races in such a situation. “Depending on the time I arrive, the things to do, in order of priorities, are the following: hydrate, eat and, if I have enough time, sleep…”. Regarding the equipment, he usually loves to run the lighter possible but he tells us that: “For the 360° I have no choice, the organisation asks us a lot of mandatory equipments so I will wear the Ultra Carrier Shirt as always, because I love to bring my flasks in the back pockets, but I will bring the Ultrabag 20L to carry all the compulsory equipment.”
The preparatory phase
As you might expect, and even with a lot of passion, we do not get involved in such an adventure without any preparation… And it is hard to train for such races when you have a full-time job as Luca does. Luca doesn’t complain and adapts to the situation: “I go to work running everyday no matter what. Currently I lengthen the route to run between 20 and 30 kilometers every working day, with lower speeds to get used to the race conditions.”
And what about the days off? Of course, he runs even more! Including trainings focus on elevation gain because it is what he needs to focus on to get prepared for his challenge. “I am in a good shape but I have to work a lot on the vertical ascent as I am not prepared enough to it.” He will be on the Canary Islands two weeks before the start. During the first week, he plans to do a lot of vertical ascent and to recognize the entire racecourse. But he can’t wait to be on the island to work on it, he has to start now.
Maybe you will think: elevation gain? While living in Paris? Can’t be? Well, not for him! He always finds solutions when it comes to trail running… At this point he disclosed one of his next workouts: “Spend 24 hours in Montmartre.” Wait what… We feared we did not understand well. He went more into details, once again, true to himself: “I will leave home on monday morning, run to Montmartre, it is about forty kilometers, then I will go up and down the stairs for 24 hours before coming back home running. This is the kind of ideas which comes to my mind sometimes.” At WAA we hope for his knees that he does not have such ideas too often...
We are now one month away before Luca gets into this crazy challenge in the Canary Islands! We will keep a close eye on him to support him and to share with you on our social media channels his voyage 360°-TGC. Stay tuned if you do not want to miss it!