Timothy Allen Olson running at Transgrancanaria 125K.

Transgrancanaria 125k – The Artist

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Transgrancanaria 125k

View from a pre-race run from Garanon.

Running is my art and the mountains are my canvas. I feel very passionate about running, I put my blood sweat and tears into it daily; I love to run. Every new day is a beautiful day to be alive and if you decide you want to do something well, you should do it with your whole heart. That is art.

When I run I work hard, I’m creative, I put a different spin on something that has been done a billion times -running, it’s in our blood – and I make it my own. I cherish the time I put in, to get out in nature and appreciate; I’m so grateful to be here and experience the organic joy that is playing in nature. Every run is something new and a chance to put my soul into it. I love being wild n free and pushing my body and mind to heights I didn’t think possible.

When a race does come, it’s the accumulation of hard work and many hours; a celebration of my blood, sweat and tears. But it’s not about the end result or the “race”. Running is art, and when you put everything into or onto one canvas, sometimes you’ll have a masterpiece and some days just an ugly train-wreck. However it happens, that is how it’s suppose to be; so I accept it and continue on. I ran as hard as I could on that given day, it wasn’t a masterpiece or a train-wreck, it just turned out to be one hell of a time.

The midnight start was misty and rainy. I’d been counting down 10 days on the Island waiting for this moment. I was mentally and physically ready to take on the challenge. Waiting for the countdown I felt calm and focused. Then we were off into the night, a little road running to the trail and then we went up. My goal was to remain focused, using other peoples head torches to light the way. I didn’t know how long my batteries would last so I wanted to take advantage of the conga-line as long as possible. I made it an hour before I needed my headlamp; this was a fun way to start the night.

Transgrancanaria 125k - Agaete start
Transgrancanaria 125k – Agaete start

I thought the pace was lagging, so at the top of the climb I gave a little push, not to “go for it” this early but to spread things out a bit and get our lungs working. Julien and another fellow joined me as we hit some single track and eventually came to our first big descent of the day. I was feeling light on my feet after the 5k of vert up and wanted to test my down hill abilities with the gnarly trail ahead. It was a blast! We shot down, dropping over ledges, rocks kicked up and went flying; it was mayhem but it almost seemed rhythmic. Basically the goal was to reach the bottom with your toenails and teeth in tacked. With a final rope section we reached some boulders to hop around, a little single track and we were back in the direction, up!

In the descent we gapped the others a bit; Julien, myself and another moved up the hill with me leading us on a purposeful hike up. I was remembering to stay patient, knowing there was much more to come. I stopped to pee and let Julien take the lead. The paced died down a bit and you could see the stream of headlamps slowly catching up. After some ups and downs, strong gusts of wind and more miles clicked off, we entered a town for Artenara aid station at 35k. Just minutes before the AS my guts were not cooperating and I had to dip over to the bush to relieve myself. I went from 2nd to 6th or so pretty quick. My stomach had not agreed with the food I’ve been eating the days prior – as hotel food is much different to my regular routine – and was starting to show ugly signs of a long day and a few too many stops. I was only taking in 100 cal an hour thus far of VFuel gels, but decided to have a little coke early on to get in some caffeine to stay up and hopefully settle my tummy while still getting in calories.

Timothy Allen Olson running at Transgrancanaria 125K.

Photo Ian Corless

My stomach was not terribly happy the next 6 hrs or so, but I found a decent balance of gel, coke, auga and electrolytes to keep me moving. I was losing the leaders but I knew if I kept listening to my body I could turn this around. I started to pee blood which made me sort of nervous. I figured it was from all the pounding down hills and I hoped with a continual supply of water, things would clear up. All I could do was take it a little easy and continue to listen to my body. It persisted but I kept peeing, so I continued forth. We weaved through the town as the trail winded through an area of overgrown cactus, up and then down and then up, up up. I ran when I could and hiked some too; the towns were quiet besides the dogs who wanted to say hi and ask about our day.

Transgrancanria 125k - Taylayon Ridge with Julien Chorier. Photo by Jose Rodriguez.
Transgrancanria 125k – Taylayon Ridge with Julien Chorier. Photo by Jose Rodriguez.

Most of this race was continually just reminding myself to put one foot in front of the other. As easy as that sounds, it’s quite difficult. On the other foot, it sure does make the miles tick by. As the night faded and the cloudy sky started to bring forth light, I started to catch glimpses of other runners which invigorated me to keep grunting. I eventually ran past a few runners on some muddy – brand spanking new – single track. The organization must have just put this new patch in; it was muddy, but in steep section had foot steps cut into the side. This was a nice section as the sun started to peek out more n more as I cruised the ridge.

I inched my way up and eventually caught up to Julien, I had no clue what place I was in, but I knew I was doing ok to be rolling with Julien. We smiled and laughed a bit as we got closer both saying, “funny to run into each other again”. We probably went back in forth 10 or more times throughout the race. We charged up a hard section together, trying to last through another brutal climb. Going through a beautiful black pine forest the sun danced through the clouds and trees making a excellent place for people to catch us working really hard and to catch a sweet photo.

Transgrancanaria 125k - Timothy Olson running through the trees into Talayon.
Transgrancanaria 125k – Talayon

Photo ?

I grunted up this hill strong, riding a small energy wave that I tried to roll with. I passed through Talayon AS (63k) and got word from my amazing crew – Leonardo from TNF – letting me know I was only 3 minutes down from Seb and I would be at another AS in 30 or so minutes to restock my pack. This was great news to me and kept my spirits high. I knew I was also getting close to Garanon where I stayed earlier in the week. I trained up there for a few days and stayed in a nice cabin with no electricity or internet – it was the perfect place to go deep inside myself, meditate, be still and mentally prepare for the race. It was also the only part of the course I knew, it was only a 10k section or so, but I connected with the area nicely and really enjoyed this section.

Transgrancanaria 125k - At Tejeda with Sebation Chaigneau, running to Garanon.
Transgrancanaria 125k – Tejeda with Seb – Running with Sebation Chaigneau to Garanon.

Photo irunfar.com

I buzzed through Cruz de Tejeda and eventually started the technical decent to Tejeda. Knowing the terrain helped a lot and I got down there nice and quick like. To my surprise Seb and Yeray Duran were at the AS and I had finally caught up to the lead! I chatted with them a bit as we kept moving forward.  I knew the next section was brutal, I just didn’t know how much. It was good to see the sun coming out, but it got hot really quick making the day even more interesting. I followed them both as we grunted up a really steep climb. I was just maintaining at the time and trying to keep my shit together.

It was a hard hands-on-knees power hike, where I would throw in little burst of running, always keeping them just a few meters up. This was an endless climb to Rouqe Nublo and also the most beautiful part of the course. The views were stunning, but Seb was really cracking up ahead and I was trying to do everything I could to keep him within eye site. The out n back section to the towers laid out for us all how the race was unfolding. I was a minute behind Seb, then Yeray a minute behind me, then all of a sudden Ryan Sandes was a minute behind Yeray and looking strong. I couldn’t see him but Juilen must have been only a few minutes back of them. What an incredible race, we were all working so hard, pushing each other, trying to break the others without breaking ourselves.

Transgrancanaria 125k - Timothy Olson running by Roque Nublo
Transgrancanaria 125k – Roque Nublo

Photo Jordi Saragossa

We entered Garanon with tons of cheers, it was awesome to see how many people were out encouraging us, but I was worked. It took a few minutes getting out of there as I regrouped with Leo and got my pack situated, then the organization went through my pack to check for all the mandatory gear. I’m not a fan of mandatory gear, you should bring what you think you need and it’s up to you to bring the right stuff, but I agree it’s up to the race and that’s their choice. That’s all I’ll say about that or the silly ordeal after the race with Ryan missing his space blanket on the cause of poor translations, very unnecessary turmoil for everyone involved. I also believe you should talk with the runners before making a press release. Again, enough said, it’s in the past.  😉

So after being patted down for my mobile phone I was off and up. They started the marathon distance as Seb and I were leaving, yes, we had to negotiate our way through seemingly thousands of people. It was only a couple hundred, but most of them were in their mindset for their race, going 15 or so wide taking up all the trail and side trails. It was complete chaos. I had to keep saying “paso por favor” a few billion times, everyone was super nice to let us through, but we were exhausted, climbing to the highest point of the day with crowds and crowds of people. Despite being a challenge, it was great running with so many enthusiastically happy runners celebrating all the hard work they’ve put in and enjoying the trails.

After the killer uphill we started a moderately technical section with plenty of rocks and then down a bunch of uneven cobblestone switchbacks on our way back down. I felt like I was caught in a stampede, I was passing people, people were passing me, people were stopping in the middle of the trail. Seb and I danced around all this trying to focus on the race at hand. It was quite interesting, going from just a few guys hiking a trail to hundreds bombing down, it was both chaotic, unpredictable and fun. This was a great reminder to remain focused no matter what was going on around me.

I made it down to Tunte AS (95k) to many cheers and excitement. Seb and I were right next to each other and both the weather and race were hot! After more and more down hill we reached an AS and a slow rode back up. I was so hot, the sun was baking, but I kept thinking of all the hot and hard days I’ve been training in the warm-sunny winter of Southern California. The days total climbing of 8500meters and heat were making every part of my body ache, but i needed to push on. I could do this, I thought of my family back home who I hadn’t seen for days, I wanted to work hard for them; I wanted to prove to myself that I could battle through this increasingly bad patch that was sinking into my bones. It was all runnable terrain, but I couldn’t help little bouts of hiking as my lungs screamed for oxygen.

The grade of the climb increased and we went further up some long switch-backs on a dirt road. I could see Seb and Ryan closing in. Ryan looked fast, damn. He was motoring up the climb as I swayed back n forth just trying to keep upright. I knew he was coming and I was trying to mentally prepare for a hard finish. I didn’t want to give up, but my legs were seizing up, I took in a VFuel gel and a salt tab. I tried to keep my mind straight; Ryan passed with authority and flash backs of 2012 Western states were going through my mind. As Ryan progressed forward it seamed as I was inching backwards. I tried running down hill with him to no prevail, he kept slipping away. The pain was increasing; I told myself there was plenty of racing left, so I needed to focus within myself, not worry about the race and let it happen as it must.

Trangrancanaria 125k - Timothy Olson running into Arteara aid station
Trangrancanaria 125k – Timothy Olson running into Arteara aid station.

After a hard down where Ryan got away, the road led back up, then to the talus field of hell. I was digging all the technical sections thus far, but this one made me feel thoroughly American. I fumbled around on the loose rock, tying to navigate the rocks and crazy switch backs. My knees were screaming at me; I fell and bust up my hand good, nothing terrible but I was feeling weak. I reached the aid station with people cheering me on to keep chasing; I normally have an extra gear at the end, not this time.

I struggled away from the AS with a little up hill to go and then a gradual 15k to the finish. I was walking way to much; I was trying to talk myself into giving a strong finish, I was embarrassingly slow. Sometimes all you can do is laugh at yourself, so I did. Then Julien passed, I stayed with him as long as I could, but inch by inch he crept away into the distance. After a few miles down the long canal to Meloneras I could tell the finish line was near, I squeezed out everything I had left and finally reached the finish line.

It was a hard and long day, I gave it my all, it wasn’t a masterpiece but it was the next best thing. It was a perfect day in the mountains, breathing in fresh air, celebrating life with amazing people and athletes in a beautiful place; all I needed was to see my family and that’s exactly what I’m doing now.

The eve before the race I was drinking some Yogi green-tea, each tea packet has a mantra, a phrase to embrace the day, my tea packet said “your greatest strength is love”. I couldn’t agree more. I train intensely, I prepare for adversity, but at the end of the race when I’m at my lowest low and feel like giving up the only thing that goes through me is love. I have many blessings in my life, I’ve also have had struggles, but through everything, the love I share with others is the power that pushes me on. Love is my true fuel and in the end, it’s what allows me to do seemingly impossible things.

A huge thank you to Ultra Trail World Tour for bringing me to this amazing island of Gran Canaria. And to Transgrancanaria and The North Face for making this all possible, the crew of Celeste and Wendy made my stay wonderful, spending time in both Garanon in the cabins and in the resort of Sheraton Salobre. I had a great experience and I look forward to running this one again. The course was amazing and had everything I love about true mountain running.

Supplies used along the way.

  • The North Face Ultra Trail shoes, better than naked shorts and jersey. Used TNF arm sleeves and the Virto jacket for the winds and weather in the high country.
  • Natura Health Products before and after to keep me healthy and strong. I used Amino-max, Botanabol and Power-Adapt. I also used their Beyond Whey protein drink after the race. Check out their great products and use code #ULTRA100 for a 15% discount on Amazon.
  • Injinji toe-socks and buff.
  • VFuel gels, about 1 an hour of Peach-cobbler and Vanilla. Use code #TimmyFuel for a discount!
  • Gourmet Grass-Fed Jerkey as I lived in the cabins. I had that, some kale-chips from home. Nut butters, avocados, oranges and celery as my main food sources on the Island.
  • Smith sunglasses – I used model Dolen – they work perfect for casual and racing ware.
  • Active Patch 4U – I feel these help me out so much before, during and after racing. An example from this race: my tibialis anterior muscle was not firing correctly which was making my ankle unstable and I twisting it frequently. I put the patches on my ankle and posterior Tibialis anterior muscle which helped me not tweak my ankle at all during the race and recover smoother. I feel like they work like acupuncture bringing circulation and awareness to areas of need.
  • Black Diamond spot headlamp.

103 thoughts on “Transgrancanaria 125k – The Artist

  1. Hi Timothy,

    thanks for this remarkable and epic race report. I will never forget this one. Keep on motivating me and others more than anything else.
    For me you are the best of the best,

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts

    Take care Thomas

  2. Timothy ,
    As I read your race report , it inspires me so much to keep on running and enjoying the trails , of wich I am convinced it makes me to get the best out of myself and my life
    Thank you ….

    Aad Terwiel

  3. Congrats on a great race, running among so many talented runners in a most definitely challenging terrain to overseas runners with different usual playgrounds. Also, thaks for all the interest and time taken to share before and after the race with the all the event attendees of all kinds. Happy to have you over and looking forward to have you back in 2015 :)

  4. A great read as always Tim. Thanks for going into such detail and sharing all the ins and outs of your mental processes as well. You are a constant inspiration – taking a shot at completing my first 100 in five weeks and your achievements are total inspirational fuel :-)

  5. Hi Tim!
    What a race and what a report!
    It s always motivating, inspiring to read the words you put on your feeling.
    The first sentences resonate in my brain, spirit, heart, body…
    I fell lucky to read you and follow you.

    Continue et reste tel que tu es! 😉


    1. Thanks Billy!
      Proud to be rep’en SoCal now, we live in a great place!
      Look forward to seeing you soon.

  6. Timothy,

    You are truly inspiring. Not only do you make me want to push even harder to someday run an ultra myself. But you also do it by putting a smile on my face. And yes I totally agree with you that you have to laugh about yourself every now and then.



  7. First of all, thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us.
    I am really glad you enjoyed my island, I know it was a hard race. I took part of it doing the marathon as a “happy runner” and I must say that watching you going through Garañon just before we started was something really amazing. I couldn’t stop encouraging you while I was wondering how could you run looking that fast and strong with more than 80 KM on your back, that really amazed me.
    So congratulations for such a hard work you have done.
    Keep doing it like that, you are really amazing!

    Saúl Álamo

    Canary Islands

  8. thanks for great write up tim! you are a model of how i want to view my running. thanks for all your sharing from the heart.

    will be back to pasadena?

  9. Thanks for your awesome race report. I also ran the race and had the chance to meet you in Maspalomas. You’re a great source of motivation to train harder. Keep at it!

  10. Thank you for a great post, and congrats on a strong showing on such a challenging course!

    I am a new father of a one year old and currently training for my first 100 miler. It is so inspiring to see another new father doing so well at such challenging international races, and truly living life. You definitely help keep me motivated on the more challenging weeks when it is hard to squeeze in my training runs. You truly are an artist, at running and life.

    Thanks again! I look forward to following your race at Hardrock.

    1. Thanks Jason,
      As you know, hard to juggle it all, but all the hard works pays off.
      All the best to you and the family in 2014.

  11. Well done Tim..! Great effort.. The thing is that you enjoyed what you say celebration of life..! However, I have a question for you. I’m about to buy a hydration vest but I enjoy to run with as less is possible. That means that I enjoy running shirtless and I have a doubt if I would be able to feel comfortable with a hydration vest on my back but I feel it is necessary for me right now.. Which vest were you using during this race? What do you suggest?

    1. I like the UD one, but there are many fine and light weight lacks out there.
      Hope you find one that works. Remember, you can always cut shit off one.
      Be well,

  12. It is refreshing to have a world-class athlete with a humble, grounded attitude. I really appreciate the fact that you truly love what you do and your devotion to your family. I really wish you the best in your upcoming season. Whether or not you finish first across the finish line, you are a winner in my eyes. Best wishes.

  13. Excellent read man. ‘Well done’ doesn’t even come close. Followed the race on iRunFar, nice to get the details. Thank you for taking the time to share them. Are you still planning on returning to UTMB this year?

    1. Thanks Patrick! Epic run, thanks for reading.
      My plan is to be back to UTMB, but HardRock comes first and then I’ll try to recover.

  14. An artist like no other, i really enjoyed following the race Tim.

    You, Ryan, Julien and the other athletes painted a beautiful race this year. Congrats Tim.

  15. Thanks a lot for the race report…I did the advanced race and its grateful and inspiring to read another´s race..i hope you have enjoyed my island…¡¡leep going and doing art in running!!

  16. Thanks for a great read! I was starting my first ever marathon (a good choice?!) when you passed at Garanon adding some excitement to the start of our race (there were about 700 of us!), and it gave me some comfort to hear your description of struggling down the steep slippery path into Arteara and having to hike some runnable sections towards the end – nice for a novice to hear :)

  17. As i am ready to tackle my first 50 miler tomorrow, your race recap is exactly what I needed to get me to the right state of mind. Super inspiring! you are a Rock star! I hope I will have as much fun as you seem to have every time :) Congrats!

  18. Hello Tim! Amazing race report – love your attitude and overall approach to life (I’m also the father of a 1-year son btw). Are you going to race Transvulcania this year? In case, I’ll be there to run the race and training / taking pictures the week before – in case you want difference pictures. Also, I live close to Chamonix so if you want to discover places like this: http://www.renaudsalmon.com/image/26774058024 or others, just let me know and I’ll guide you! See you!

    1. Renaud,
      Thanks for reading! I’m planning to be at Transvulcania but not sure when I’m coming yet.
      I love chamonix! I’ll check out your website.
      Take care,

  19. Always amazing to see the images of somebody who is so in balance with his mind and his body. I cycled in 2013 from India to Nepal (see bike4peace.eu) and now I am back in Europe and I started smoking. Such a bullshit. I saw today your post and I will try now to stop that !

    I felt directly what happened with my condition and my skin, my body and my fitness. You are a good example for people, to be more connected with nature !

    Thanks for keeping me up to date with your follow up option and nice new homepage man !

    Peace from Germany

    1. Thank you Alexandros!
      Looks like you’ve had some cool travels. Smoking is a hard one to kick, but worth it.
      Thanks for following along.
      All the best.

  20. “…it wasn’t a masterpiece but it was the next best thing…” Nice summary! :) Congradulations!

    All the best!

  21. Great read!!! I could not stop reading. I hope see you in Gran Canaria the next year. I wish you much succes!


  22. Timothy, beautiful race report. Especially your recognition that for all the work and preparation, when comes down to crunch time it’s the human spirit, love, that propels you forward. You’re life is an inspiration. May the rest of your racing season be blessed.


  23. Timothy, wonderful! I was at the finish line and handed you your race medal at Lithia Loop in 2011. It wasn’t your running so much that I remember. You were so present – gracious and grateful. Since then, it has been amazing to witness where you have been and what you have accomplished. Thank you for your openness and for sharing your amazing journey. So inspiring for so many of us. All the best to you.

    1. Thanks Annie,
      running brings out the best in people, I’m happy to have found something i truly love to do daily. Lithia Loop is a great run, Looking forward to getting back to Ashland at some point and running the trails.
      all the best,

  24. I spent New Years in the Canary Islands and days running the trails around Cruz de Tejada. What a beautiful place. I see that you train up at Mt. Wilson a lot which is one of my favorite places to hike and run. I hope one day I will be at the level to do my first ultra. You continue to rock and I love your passion and spirit. This piece shows your toughness and desire. Thank you for inspire runners around the world



  25. Hi! i was just wondering if you could help me. I would really like to purchase the north face ultra trail shoe, i was just wondering if you went a half size down from the pearl izumi shoes. I’m going to purchase this online because the stores here in the Philippines don’t have it on stock.

    1. I went true to size. PI was really tight, but I wear a 9. Same with TNF but there is a thumbs worth of room.
      Hope this helps.

  26. Hey Tim. Love your Artistic analogy. As an artist and aspiring Ultra runner I find my running in the mountains beautifully melds together in one giant expressionistic journey. The higher and deeper one goes the lighter feet become. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  27. You are my hero Tim! Yesterday I ran my first marathon. It was not easy. I prepared a few months. I am full of respect and admiration for people like you. I wish you every success and good health. Best regards from Poland. :)

  28. Running is not only your art, the words are too. Your way of writing and describe each career is unique, I love it. You’ve done a great. You do not ever change.

  29. Hi Timothy. I caught your podcast with Rich Roll this morning and really enjoyed hearing about you and your journey. I am just getting back into running and was hitting are hard climb when you spoke about what pushes you through those moments and how your son motivates you. Yesterday was Fathers day here in Australia and my 9 year old gave me a poem saying how much he respects and loves me. This got me through the climb and has provided me with the motivation to keep progressing. I am thankful for guys like yourself and Rich sharing your stories. It seems we have all had the same experiences with poor lifestyle habits. I had issues with drinking for years and it is only now I have felt comfortable speaking about them. Well done on your achievements thus far and im sure there are many more to come. If you are ever in Australia please touch base as it would be great to meet you. Kind regards Aaron Schultz http://www.gamechanger.org.au

  30. Wow. I ran/walked the race and JUST finished with 5 minutes to spare. Literally. I am in awe of you and the other elites. I did it for my son who is in a wheelchair and i think he helped me hugely. Love is an awesome power. I am back in 2015 to do it again for him as he loved my story and the pictures.

  31. Hey Timothy
    I recently caught a episode of World of Adventure featuring you and honestly your story is inspiring. Let’s say I’m at a “dark point” in my life right now and your story showed me that there’s light. I drained both physically and mentally and I want better for myself, my kids, and my girl. Thanks for proving to me that its “greener on the other side “!
    God Bless

    1. Paul,
      Thank you so much! I hope that darkness fades and life’s moments keep becoming positive for you.
      All the best to you in this new year with new beginnings.


  32. Hi Timothy,
    I Have a great image in my mind from the TransGC2014 When close from the finish you passed next to me, i didnt know who where you but you look like the top runners

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