Two questions I had to answer before knowing what was going on. Both answers were yes, so next message was:
-Monday: Los Cristianos - Vilaflor
-Wednesday: Vilaflor - Montaña Blanca
-Friday: Montaña Blanca - Puerto de la Cruz
Can you do this?
Ok, let me think... One week before Transvulcania, might be good training. So the answer is yes. But... Who is coming? Why?
After insisting that I wanted to know who I would take on this challenge that I had accepted, I got a whatsapp with 6 names and between brackets "Asics Frontrunner Team Germany".
Scared and with shaking hands I investigated online. Renown athletes, all sub 3 hour marathon runners. Oh God. Will I survive this. Am I the right person for this?
I still had a lot of questions going through my mind when I arrived at the beautiful five star suite hotel Villa María in Adeje to meet the Asics Frontrunner athletes at 8:30AM on Monday morning.
I got greeted with big smiles by 3 young women, 2 young guys and one athlete around my own age.
"Good morning. First of all I want to make clear to all of you that I am NOT an elite athlete runner" was all I could find to start the conversation with, more nervous than at the start of a competition.
Next thing, I tried to find out why they were here in Tenerife as I didn't get much (read "any") information about it.
Hendrik owns and will write a promotional article about trailrunning in Tenerife and Turismo Tenerife has invited him to discover more about the island and the trails by running the Bluetrail Ultra track in 3 days. The main "actrices" for the article are Lea and Christiane, whith the company of Andrea, Jan Erik and Thomas. They confirm there will be no need to run at competition speed and I start to feel a little more relaxed.
Even more relaxed I get when Andrea and her boyfriend, Jan Erik, tell me they ran Dusseldorf Marathon in 2h56' the day before and only slept for 3 houirs... Really? Wuauw, RESPECT !!
Meanwhile arrives Cristo, the owner of Abeque Turismo Activo, an agency that organizes tourist sportive action trips. He drives us to Las Vistas beach in Los Cristianos, place where the Bluetrail started in 2015.
A few pictures and off we go. Smooth rythm, they talking, me just breathing heavily. A few more pictures on the way and when we start getting some height meters towards La Camella, Andrea asks not to move too fast as the marathon legs suffer a little. Probably even more as of the lack of sleep. Me happy, their slow is still fast enough for me.
Cristo will meet us in Ifonche with drinks before the last 11K to Vilaflor, but I decide to ask for a stop at La Camella as I drunk nearly all my water just in the first 5 km... Oops.
A fraction later we are in Arona and finally get on the trails as the first 8km are mainly roads.
We keep climbing leaving Roque del Conde mountain on the left. Everybody seems happy, except Andrea, who is suffering too much. There are more days to come and afraid of causing injury I decide to call Cristo and ask him to drive down the dirt track from Ifonche as far as he can to meet us on our track.
Some relaxing while Cristo changes his punctured tire and waving out Andrea and Cristo we continue.
After Ifonche the trails become really beautiful and the team enjoys them fully while Hendrik gets some nice pictures. While I rest, Lea and Christiane have to run at least 5 times up and down the same hill.
Completely running out of water I manage to lead them into Vilaflor where I'm anxious to get a Coca Cola.
Succesfully finished day 1 and very happy as the atmosphere was totally fun, completing 30km with 2000m up and 600m down.
Next day work for me and other excursions for the Frontrunner team members.
On Wednesday we had to get up really early as we got permits to climb to the top of Spain in the first slot of the morning. Starting as planned, in Vilaflor would not allow us to get there on time, so the course was inverted and we started at Montaña Blanca. The sun was rising while we drove up to the Cañadas del Teide, offering really stunning views in the Montaña Samara area. Cristo was asked to stop for some pictures and got very nervous about the time limit to reach Rambleta, where we would not be allowed to pass towards the Teide peak after 11AM.
Nobody else seemed to worry too much about this time limit and we "worked" our way up towards the Refugio de Altavista with several photo-stops. No problem for me with the rythm today.
When we got to some snow on the track, it became "selfie-time". Up and down between the icy snow for half an hour, but by then we knew we would get at the top on time.
Cristo was waiting for us (went up with the cable-car) with drinks and after checking the permits on the list, we went up to the top of Teide at 3718m. If we had selfie-time at the snow, here we had selfie and social media time. Not sure how long exactly but we were in no hurry anymore. Breathing light air with a high saturation of sulfur in ultra intense sunlight that burns trough total sunburn protection under a deep dark blue sky.
Very clear views make it all even more impressive. A British astronaut in the space station noticed the clear skies as well and posted an impressive shot of Tenerife, this exact same day.
|picture Tim Peake, Nasa https://flic.kr/p/GxNBvn|
When we came back down to Rambleta the team fell apart. I met some friends there and invited Jan Erik to run down with them at a higher rythm to enjoy the downhill on which the others would go much slower as it's extremely technical. Our reporter and photographer Hendrik, as well as his girlfriend Lea were not feeling well and went down in the cable-car with Cristo, while I started the downhill to Pico Viejo with Andrea, Christiane and Thomas.
After a very relaxed hopping down the rocks we arrived at Parador where the moods were mixed. The altitude and strong sun had made some serious scars in the physical and moral strength of the athletes. There were some doubts whether to continue to Vilaflor but after some fresh drinks and food the recovery was noticable and we continued all except Christiane who was suffering strong headache. While the ascent and descent of the Teide had been really slow, the last 18km to Vilaflor were at a good running rythm, at least for my level. Only on the technical downhills I could recover a little while I had to find the strongest of myself to "nearly" follow the team on the more runnable parts while they were just "chatting". After meeting Cristo again in Vilaflor, a happy team all together and finishing a very long day of not more than 37km but 9 hours and more than 4500 accumulated height meters (1800+ and 2700-).
And again a day of work for me, paragliding for the Asics Team.
The week went really quick this way and so we started the last day, friday, for the final part of the Bluetrail track, Montaña Blanca to Puerto de la Cruz.
Jan Erik had some business to do in the morning and we left a little later. We would run donwhill and mostly very runnable tracks, so I was a little scared again to get killed by the athletes.
But once more I was lucky. Thomas is a real road-runner and was suffering very much in his quads after the 2700m descent of wednesday. He was still flying on the flats but saved "my life" on the downhills where it was clear that my training in this area gave me a lot of advantage. Long kilometers of downhill are hard to find where they live and especially in the technical parts, it was harder for me to stay behind them than going at my own rythm in front and recover from time to time.
On the spectacular trail from Montaña Blanca to La Fortaleza we had some good running combined with long photo sessions. The first kilometers of track after Fortaleza are ugly and boring, so we didn't stop more than necessary, waiting a little for Thomas who was obviously suffering but didn't complain once.
At Piedra de los Pastores we swap the boring 4wheel track for what I call an "orgasmic" downhill track in the woods. We litteraly shouted and jumped for a few kilometers till Chanajiga, enjoying the best trailrunning has to offer.
At the picnic park of Chanajiga we met Cristo again with drinks and bananas. The weather there made it a little mystical, clouds moving between the trees on the hills around us. After the no-stress recovery we continued the trip towards Los Realejos. Thomas asked a few times how much more downhill he had to survive. In Chanajiga the Garmin said 1.200m altitude so that would be what we still had to descent if it was not for the little peak in the height profile that we still had to pass. I tried to warn them gently about the infamous climb that was waiting for us in Los Realejos, up to el Asomadero. It's 2,1km for a 600hm climb, which is average around 30% with high steps.
We rested a little at the bottom and advised to take some energy or food before starting El Asomadero. Without planning anything really, we went each at his own rythm. Hendrik pushed hard, Lea had started very hard from the beginning. I tried to follow them, which I did not really manage, loosing 3 minutes. Another 2 minutes later arrived Andrea and Jan Erik at the top and a little after them Thomas and Christiane. We rested to get our heartrate back to normal while a couple of hikers offered us some of their fruit and nuts.
The path from there to La Corona is always very slippery. While Lea showed us that she is the queen of uphill, Christiane was leading the group on the slippery downhill. We met Cristo again at La Corona, ate some more bananas and filled water and off we went for the technical downhill path Madre Juana, 1km flat on the road and another small downhill down to Tigaiga where we had more "roadrunning". As long as it was downhill, I could follow. We met Cristo a last time before Puerto de la Cruz in Rambla de Castro and had a short stop for a last photo session in that area which is up and down running along the coast for a few kilometers untill we arrive at Puerto de la Cruz. The last 2km through the city literally killed me. While the Asics team jogged at a pace of 5'/km it was feeling like a 200m sprint that was never finishing to me.
We celebrated the arrival at the Martianez Pools as if we had conquered a new continent on the planet and cooled down with a wonderfull swim at the beach after the longest run of the week, 40km, 3700m down and 1500m up.
I was feeling honestly sorry that this experience was coming to an end. We had a lot of fun together. Andrea, Lea, Christiane, Thomas, Hendrik and Jan Erik are so nice people that in just 3 days spent together I was feeling as really close friends and after driving back to Adeje it was time for goodbye. Not for long in the case of Lea, Christiane and Hendrik, as I will meet them in La Palma for Transvulcania next week.
I want to thank in the first place Pepe of 7Raid who put me in contact for this. Second, thanks to Cristo and Abeque turismo activo for offering me this opportunity. Obviously I also want to thank Tenerife No Limits for promoting our sport and the island and most of all lots of thanks to the Asics Frontrunner Team
See you on the trails !!