Francis Kelly Conquers Transgrancanaria: A Gruelling Yet Gratifying Race Day

March 26, 2024

Amidst the scenic beauty of Gran Canaria, Francis Kelly, an Irish runner living in Las Palmas, took on the daunting challenge of the Transgrancanaria race, a test of endurance that showcased both the breathtaking landscapes and the spirit of its participants.

The journey began with a bus ride from Las Palmas to San Bartolomé de Tirajana, the starting point of the race. As Francis traversed the mountainous terrain, he witnessed firsthand the narrow roads and hairpin turns, with an unexpected encounter as the bus brushed against a barrier, underscoring the tight confines of the route.

Arriving at the starting line at 9:30 am, Francis diligently prepared for the grueling endeavor ahead. With temperatures soaring to 31 degrees celsius and an elevation of approximately 1,000 meters above sea level, hydration became paramount as he readied himself for the challenge that lay ahead.

Heat at the start line
The heat at the start line

As the clock struck 10:30 am, signalling the commencement of the race, the atmosphere buzzed with anticipation. High-tempo music reverberated through the air, accompanied by the hum of drones capturing the unfolding spectacle. The initial 8 kilometres proved to be a rigorous ascent up the mountain's flank, testing the mettle of even the most seasoned runners with an 800-meter climb.

Despite the arduous climb, Francis found solace in the presence of fellow participants and the support of locals lining the route, their cheers serving as a source of motivation amidst the relentless pursuit of the summit. Upon reaching the pinnacle, a welcome respite awaited as a gentle breeze provided a brief reprieve from the sweltering heat.

The ensuing 5 kilometres offered a blend of undulating terrain, punctuated by breathtaking vistas of the Roque Nublo, a testament to the island's natural splendor. Buoyed by his meticulous preparation and disciplined approach, Francis maintained a steady pace, fuelling his body with essential fluids and nutrition to sustain his momentum.

With the realisation that the majority of the remaining course lay downhill, Francis seized the opportunity to accelerate, capitalising on his energy reserves built through strategic pacing. Despite hailing from a land accustomed to muddy terrain, he adapted admirably to the dry, dusty trails of Gran Canaria, utilising the ample tree cover to seek refuge from the scorching sun.

As the race clock approached the two-hour mark, the searing heat intensified, presenting a formidable challenge for Francis and his fellow competitors. Undeterred, he pressed onward, his determination unwavering as he navigated the final kilometres with precision and resolve.

In a testament to his tactical acumen, Francis strategically surged ahead in the latter stages of the race, steadily overtaking fellow runners with calculated precision. With the finish line beckoning, he summoned the last vestiges of his strength, surmounting the final uphill stretches to cross the threshold in triumph.

Amidst the jubilant cheers of spectators and the infectious energy of the finish line, Francis basked in the euphoria of his accomplishment, relishing the culmination of all his preparation and dedication. After indulging in a well-deserved reprieve, he bid farewell to the bustling ambiance, retreating to the tranquility of the shade as he reflected on the arduous yet immensely rewarding journey.

As Francis embarked on the return journey to Las Palmas, his heart brimming with satisfaction and pride, he couldn't help but marvel at the seamless organisation of the event, from the impeccably marked course to the invaluable aid stations that provided essential support along the way.

As he journeyed homeward, the memories of this extraordinary feat would forever be etched in his heart, a testament to the pursuit of greatness amidst the backdrop of Gran Canaria's majestic landscapes.