Today, Friday February 24th at 11PM local time, the massively prestigious and sought-after ultra race Transgrancanaria starts. The race crosses the spectacular Spanish island Gran Canaria from North to South, coast-to-coast and forms part of the Ultra Trail World Tour Series and the Spain Ultra Cup, offers a challenging course rising from sea-level with a total vertical gain of around 8,000m over the 125KM race distance.
Canadian, David Jeker from Saint-Barthélemy, Québec is taking on this epic event and will feature at the sharp-end of the group lining up at the start and will race what is always a stacked field filled with plenty of the world’s ultra running stars.
David is currently living in Switzerland to complete a Masters in sport science.
We had a quick chat with him about the upcoming race and how this figures into his plans for a big year ahead.
Is this your first race of the year?
DJ: Transgrancanaria is my first trail race of the season but I’ve raced three vertical ski mountaineering races in 2017 already.
How are you feeling about this weekend’s Transgrancanaria?
DJ: I’m excited to get another shot at this race. I DNF’d the last two years so I’m aware of how tough things can get. This time I’m not injured and I’m mentally prepared to slowly walk to the end if needed. As always, I’ll try to get to the finish as fast as I can.
How has your build up been with training and any racing?
DJ: I was able to get good trail running conditions until mid-January and managed to run a lot before the snow. After that most of my training was on skis. It’s my first season of ski mountaineering and I’m not sure how my fitness will translate to the trails. I came to the island early and was able to get some good running here in the last few days. Not sure my legs are ready for all the downhills but I’m curious to find out.
How does coming out of winter conditions in training and then going into a tropical warm-climate-race affect your preparation and strategy on race day?
DJ: I’ve been staying in the south of the island since the February 12th (the race starts on the 24th) so I’m supposed to be fully acclimatized to the heat. The timing of coming down from altitude, as I live at 2000 meters above sea level is also good, so I have no excuses.
David taking in the views on the island during taper week.
The field is always stacked at this event with it being a challenging yet pretty fast race that is always quite close at the end. How do you feel lining up against the other big names this weekend?
DJ: In this field a top ten would be awesome for me. My 2016 season was a total disaster so a good finish with great feelings is all I wish for.
Just a pattern I have noticed in the past, everybody who has done well at this race or won in previous years goes on to have a great year. Is that in the back of your mind and why do you think it always gives those runners the boost for the year ahead?
DJ: It’s one of the most competitive ultras of the season so doing well here probably gives you a great boost of confidence. It may also be because the race is early in the year so there’s plenty of time to recover before any summer ultras.
What are your plans for other races this year?
DJ: My 2017 schedule is loaded with big races. I’ll run many other races of the Ultra Trail World Tour with Madeira, Lavaredo, Eiger and TDS (UTMB). I hope to finish my first 100 miler at the Montreux Trail Festival in July. If I’m selected on the Canadian team, the World Championships will be the main goal of my season. Everything else is more about getting some ultra experiences before the big adventure of the year being the Tor des Geants. My Master Thesis is about racing and running so it will be a great way to end my studies.
David has taken in the scenery this week during shake-out runs as he will be head-down racing hard on race day.
We wish David all the best and we’ll follow your progress online.
David is also a coach and you can check out more about what he offers and all info below: