Last year, our WAA athletes were very prominent on the Transgrancanaria. Luca Papi (FRA) and Esther Hernandez Pereira (ESP) brilliantly won the Trans360, the longest course of this Transgrancanaria with its 264km, in the men and women categories. They will still be present this year to put their title at stake and make us dream again!
But these two champions will obviously not be the only ones present on this Transgrancanaria 2020. This year, they will be no less than 12: Luca Papi and Esther Hernandez Pereira of course, but also our 3 Frenchmen Maryline Nakache, Jérémy Martin, Grégory Raoult; the other 4 Spanishs Yeray Duran, Adrià Colomer, Yolanda Fernandez del Campo and Eva Llinas; the British Anna-Marie Watson; the Danish Jakob Bloch and the Ecuadorian Luis Maigualema!
On the occasion of this Transgrancanaria, we will make you discover these champions more personally. Through our interviews, discover their preparation secrets, their vision of trail running and how they wish to approach this Transgrancanaria.
Luca Papi Winner 2019 Trans360 Men / WAA Elite Team
WAA: Luca, between your work and your family, how do you find the time to train and participate to the 40 to 50 races that you do during the year?
L.P: I don't really train, I just don't have too much time. I would rather say that this weekend's race is preparing me for next weekend's.
I very often go to work by running, and sometimes I drop my son at the nanny by also running with the stroller, which makes me 12km with the stroller plus 6km to go to work.
WAA: Do you double the 264-128km this year?
L.P: If I don't finish the 360 too late, yes. We must not forget that to make the double you have to finish with a certain physical freshness the 360 °.
WAA: You won the 264km last year, are you coming to keep your title, to improve your time?
L.P: The goal is above all to improve my time so that I can start on the 128km in better conditions and suddenly finish better. The place does not interest me too much, it is the other competitors who will do it.
Esther Hernandez Pereira Winner 2019 Trans360 Women
WAA: Are you satisfied with your 2019 season?
E.H.P: Yes! I am really satisfied with my last season, I hope that the coming one will be as good for me or even better!
WAA: What are the points on which you would like to progress for this 2020 season?
E.H.P: There is no specific point, I would like to progress in general, step by step.
WAA: You won here last year, what are your goals for this first big meeting of the season?
E.H.P: I will try to do my best, more than being in a good place during the race, I prefer to be satisfied with my performance and to have reached my goal of progressing as a sportswoman in general!
Maryline Nakache WAA Elite Team
WAA: You started trail running quite late, how did you discover this passion for the discipline?
M.N: Having a lot of energy to spend, I have always participated in many sports. Sport is vital for me! I started running on paths near my house and then at work between noon and two with my colleagues. One day, a friend who practices ultra-trails took me for the first time to do a "little trail" in the forest near my work. I immediately loved it and asked for it again and again!
I found an activity in trail running that really suits me. It allows me to both spend my energy while enjoying nature. It’s a sport where you feel free, where you fly!
WAA: Your end of the 2019 season was ruined by the weather. How did you experience it personally?
M.N: I had prepared the Templar race well and I felt in good shape. It was to be my last goal of the season. I learned when I woke up 2 hours before the start that the race was canceled due to the weather. Even if the organizers made the right decision, deep down, I remained on my desire to make one last competition before I could take a well-deserved break and think about the season after. Following this, 2 other competitions in which I had to participate were canceled. But they were less important to me, even if I was still disappointed. Bad luck!
WAA: You are used to playing the first places in each of your races, do you feel a particular pressure on the Transgrancanaria since it is the first time that you participate?
M.N: No, I try to don’t put too much pressure on myself for a race, at least not before being on the starting line! I keep in mind that trail running must remain a pleasure, whether it’s training or competition and that I am lucky to experience all of this! And then the 65km of the TGC is not an objective, it is a preparation race for my participation in the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail at the end of April.
WAA: Do you practice a sport other than trail running?
A.C: I try to be a more accomplished athlete by playing other sports. I love sport in all its forms and I will never tire of doing it. To improve my trail, and for my pleasure too, I do bike, swim, mountain outings.
WAA: How did you discover the WAA Ultra brand?
A.C: I am obsessed with sports equipment and everything related to trail running and sport. In fact, I work in a mountain sports store. I know a lot of brands and WAA has always been, for me, a great brand with great material, always up to date with developments in the discipline and very practical.
I also discovered it through the famous photos of runners across the desert: they all used WAA and it really caught my attention. Also, of course, I met this brand with Luca Papi, and fortunately, and surprisingly now we are together in this family.
WAA: One of your goals for the year is to become one of the best U23s in the world. Are you aiming for victory in this Transgrancanaria?
A.C: I want to fight to be one of the best U23s in the world, but what I like most are the long races where you can compete against the best regardless of age. I'm usually the youngest on these races, by the way.
I will give my maximum during this Transgrancanaria, knowing that my preparation was designed to reach my peak performance in May. So I'm not yet in my top physical shape.
Anna-Marie Watson WAA Elite Team
WAA: Your adventure with WAA has been going on for 5 years now, what have you learned from these 5 years?
A-M.W: I have had such an adventure in being part of the WAA athlete community for the past five years. I have learned so much! But I still retain three essential points:
- It is all a question of travel and not of destination. Each individual race represents only a small part of the life of an ultra enduring athlete. Enjoy and savor every moment.
-Take time to appreciate the landscape and the people along the way. I am fortunate to have visited beautiful remote regions of the world with inspiring athletes. Everyone has a story from which you can learn.
-Ultra running may seem like a lonely discipline, but it is a collective adventure. I am grateful for the support and encouragement I receive from my husband and athlete WAA Ben, as well as my family and friends who are actively interested in all of my crazy adventures.
WAA: You have a busy schedule this season, which race have you particularly checked?
A-M.W: All of them! It’s impossible to choose a particular race in my 2020 calendar because each one is important to me. I can't wait to go back to the beautiful island of Gran Canaria and find my WAA teammates. The Mustang multi-stage race in northwest Nepal has been in my sights for six years, so I'm thrilled to be participating in April. The Himalayan mountains are absolutely beautiful and the locals are very welcoming. It is a country that I recommend visiting if you have not had the opportunity yet. Then the UTMB Race Series is an essential element of my annual race calendar and I consider Chamonix as a second home since 2000. I participated in the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) twice and in the UTMB, therefore this year is entirely devoted to the OCC (Orsières-Champex-Chamonix); with the TDS in the calendar for 2021 and the PTL in 2022. I will end my season by going to La Réunion for the Diagonale des Fous. I was really disappointed to have to give up after 113 km in 2019, so I am determined to cross the finish line this time!
WAA: Is this your first big race of the season, or are you in your preparation and what are your goals for this TGC 2020?
A-M.W: The Transgrancanaria Advanced 65 km will be the first ultra in my 2020 season, although I have participated in shorter local track and road races in the South West of England. I think it's important to have a solid block of rest and recovery during the off-season and these shorter events add speed to your technical background, which is really important in a balanced training program.
In the past few months, I have started working with a new running coach: Mike from Purple Patch. We will therefore use the Transgrancanaria Advanced 65 km to test my current level of fitness. After participating in the Transgrancanaria360 in 2018, I was looking forward to coming back although it is too early in my season to do the long distance course. The shorter 65 km is mainly downhill, which will be excellent for testing my strength downhill, which I also focused on during my preparation.
WAA: How long have you been trail running?
L.M: I live in Ecuador, I started my sports life when I was a child. My biggest motivation was my father who encouraged me to practice sport. Thanks to his example, I started to practice Trail Running three years ago, I fell in love with this sport for the incredible connection that we feel with our mother nature when we run along its paths.
WAA: What is your big goal of the season?
L.M: Life is full of challenges and dreams, so in 2020 I would like to acquire more sports experiences all over the world, especially in Europe, because on this continent the best runners have a lot to teach me and can help me improve my sport level. This is why this year I decided to participate in the Transgrancanaria 128km TGC, the HALF MARATHON DES SABLES Fuerteventura and the Salomon Ultra Pirineu 94 km.
WAA: As you told us, your year 2020 will be very busy with trails all over the world. In what state of mind do you approach this first meeting of the season?
L.M: I am very happy to participate in the Transgrancanaria, it was a sporting dream and I am a few days away from realizing it. I feel good physically and mentally to face the TGC, I will do my best and especially enjoy each kilometer of this beautiful sports festival.
Yolanda Fernandez del Campo
WAA: Did your preparation for the start of the year go well?
Y.F: I started my preparation by doing short trails but also cross to work on speed. I also did several snowruns to gain strength and now I start the hours and the mileage of my training to face the Ultra Spanish Cup circuit.
WAA: What are your objectives for this Transgrancanaria?
Y.F: On the occasion of this Transgrancanaria I will do the marathon, since this year is the first competition on the calendar which brings in points for the Spanish Cup.
WAA: The Transgrancanaria is therefore the first stage of the Ultra 2020 Spanish Cup. You made it one of your main goals of the year. What are your ambitions for this Cup?
Y.F: This is one of my big goals for the season, but it is not the only one. There is also the Ultra Trail Madeira and the CCC at the UTMB which will count a lot in my season.
WAA: What is the ideal environment for you to do ultra-trails?
J.B: The desert. I ran in the Sahara and the Ica Desert on multi-stage races. I have a fairly light stride, so I like running on the sand.
WAA: You have quite a goal this year: to run ultra-trails on 4 different continents. Where are you with this goal?
J.B: So far, I’ve only run in Vietnam. I just published my racing calendar for the year on Instagram (@ danish.ultrarunner)
WAA: Are you coming to TGC to polish your preparation or to perform a performance?
J.B: It will be more preparation than racing. I injured my shins during a Muay Thai session so I resume slowly.
WAA: When did you discover trail running?
E.L: At first, I only ran as part of my training and just to be fit. I was running on the asphalt and I was very bored. Then I started running in the mountains and fell in love with this fabulous feeling of freedom. Finding sites where you can't access anything other than with your feet and legs is amazing.
WAA: You did HMDS Peru at the end of 2019. Have you participated in races since or is it the first race of your season?
E.L: The Transgrancanaria will be my first race of the season.
WAA: You checked the Transgrancanaria 2020 among your objectives for the year, are you satisfied with your preparation, are you arriving in good conditions to achieve a performance?
E.L: Well, like I said, this is the first of the season, so I'm not 100% but I will give everything I can. The marathon is rather downhill so I hope that when my legs can no longer, the slope will push me.
WAA: How did you discover this passion for trail running?
G.R: I started running on the road in 2002 because I started to hurt myself too often in football. I was trained on a 12 km road near Le Havre, I found it nice the competition between friends. Then it was the escalation of the mileage: half-marathon, marathon, 100km! And then I was bored of the road, so I started to trail, dreaming immediately of one day finishing the UTMB. As for the road I started with 30km then 60, 80, 100 to finish acquiring my points and adjusting myself. I did the Grand Raid of the Pyrenees in 2012 then I realized my dream by finishing the UTMB in 2013!
WAA: How did you come up with this desire to take your Professional Qualification Certificate and become a coach?
G.R: It was done first in relation to my personal experience. I realized that I had privileged during all these years the quantity over the quality, I wanted to regain speed to pass under 3 hours in the marathon and I realized that it was not an easy task. Find the balance of serious training while respecting your body! I read a lot of nonsense on social networks, between web coaches who have been running for 3 weeks and already offer to take you in hand without any qualification. So I decided to go to the French Athletics Federation to follow a 1st level of coach outside the stadium which gives me the ability to train a runner at regional level. I have been training for 4 years in the LHSA Club in Le Havre. My goal is to make athletes aware of running in relation to their MAS and to make them respect their gaits (jogging, specific speeds, intensive and extensive MAS). For the most part, the progression was rapid and the risk of injury was reduced. The first degree was no longer enough for me, I wanted to discover even more I started this year directly on the PQC of Technician Outside the stadium, a diploma that will give me a national level and professionalize me.
WAA: This is the first time you have participated in TGC: have you prepared it in a specific way or have you followed your usual training program?
G.R: This is the first time I have done Transgrancanaria and I shouldn't say that as a trainer but I didn't really have time to prepare it between lessons for my CQP and an ugly flu that got me bedridden a week. As my physiotherapist says, the body has a memory and at least unlike usual I will not fail to be fresh! I will count on the rest of my cross preparation and one or two long outings to better manage this 42 km and I intend to appreciate the landscape and the atmosphere of the race. Arrived at 48 we relativize more easily!
These interviews have allowed you to learn a little more about the WAA athletes who will participate in the Transgrancanaria 2020. Athletes who, as you have noticed, are not lacking in ambition and are ready to give the best of themselves for the first big meeting of the 2020 season.
The entire WAA team will see you in 2 weeks to follow the adventure of the Transgrancanaria 2020 from March 4 to 8!
You can also find the WAA products worn by our athletes by following these links: