Spain’s Canfranc Canfranc Race to Bid for 2023 World Mountain & Trail Running Championship

Announcement written by Sergio Mayayo. Along with ATRA founder Nancy Hobbs, Sergio is a member of the World Mountain Running Association council.

The Pyrenees based event would organize the 2nd edition, after Thailand.

Spain faces a new challenge in the mountains from today on, with the hope of hosting the largest event in mountain and trail running next year in the Aragonese Pyrenees. Today the pre-candidacy for the Canfranc Canfranc mountain running race was officially launched at International Tourism fair FITUR to host the new World Athletics event that brings together the best off-road runners and national teams from all over the planet.

Today the pre-candidacy of the 2023 Canfranc Canfranc to the 2023 World Mountain & Trail Running Championship was presented in FITUR. It did so in a climate of quiet confidence in the hard work and achievements after 15 years of passion for mountain running races in the Aragonese Pyrenees. The event was attended by the race director, Alex Varela, the mayor of Canfranc, Fernando Sánchez, the president of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA), Raul Chapado and Sergio Mayayo, as a member of the WMRA Council.

All of them agreed on the very high demands from the challenge assumed, which has just begun, as well as on the long and solid history that supports the organization capability to carry out an event of this magnitude. Looming ahead, they now expect months of technical and logistical reports, economic assessment, technical inspection visits and much more. In return, if the dream objective were to be achieved, it would indeed imply a great recognition for mountain and trail running throughout Spain, and especially in Aragón.


Canfranc Canfranc History 2007-2022

The 2022 Canfranc Canfranc will arrive next September after 15 years of sporting and popular success. An organization that has also been capable of carrying out the race with maximum guarantees under all kinds of circumstances, whether it snowed up to 30cm (2017); or if it was time to apply very specific and complex COVID-19 health protocols (2020-2021). Canfranc has shown an especially solid and seamless organization, which by 2022 will welcome 1,650 mountain runners, coming from all over the world.

Canfranc Canfranc was born in 2007 and has been, since then, a constantly growing event. When it was born, only nineteen runners took the start. Some “crazy” individuals who dared to attempt what was, for many, the toughest alpine marathon in Spain and Europe, with, 45km and 4,000m of positive elevation gain.

It involved up to 1,250m more uphill and downhill than other classic marathons, such as the Madrid Alpine Marathon or the Gipuzkoan Zegama, and also through considerably steeper and more demanding terrain. Making its own and different spirit penetrate was not easy, but the time and perseverance of its people, together with the word of mouth of each runner who visits it, have worked a miracle step by step.

Canfranc Canfranc course. Photo: Sergio Mayayo.

As of 2015, with the launch of the 100 kilometer Ultra and its establishment as the head of the Alpinultras circuit, it was also opened to the entire ultra-distance race spectrum, which today includes the 70km and 100km tests.

In 2019 Canfranc surpassed his previous popular records, reaching almost 900 bib numbers. from just 150 runners who started just a few years ago. In the years 2020 and 2021 popular registrations were cut due to sanitary measures and the organization concentrated on achieving a more outstanding sporting level.

On a sporting level, 2021 marked the penultimate leap forward to date: Canfranc Canfranc hosted a 2021 WMRA Mountain Running World Cup event in Spain for the first time in September. And in addition, it was also the headquarters of two RFEA Spanish Championships, Promotion and Master.

Today, the list of winners of Canfranc Canfranc welcomes world champions on all mountain & trail running styles, from 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Champion Charlotte Morgan (GBR) to 2019 World Mountain Running Champion Grayson Murphy (USA), to the Spanish talents, such as three-time Trail World Champion Luis Hernando, Oihana Kortazar or Manuel Merillas. All of them already know what it is to run, and win, in Canfranc Canfranc.

Grayson Murphy

Canfranc-Canfranc 16K women’s race winner Grayson Murphy (USA).

In 2022, this progression continues with a new race just added to the event: the Vertical Mountain: It marks the launch of the fourth basic race which from the World Mountain and Trail Championship program. This Vertical race thus joins the Classic Mountain (16k), Short Trail (40k) and Long Trail (80k) All veteran courses from the program in Canfranc, which form the agenda of all World Athletics Mountain and Trail disciplines.

As a dress rehearsal for that 2023 bid, the double date of the 2022 WMRA Mountain Running World Cup whose Classic and Vertical races will meet here again this year, between September 7th to 9th.

Today begins a long and hard road for the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA). With the illusion of a great goal at the end, which would mean a prize for all the fans of Spain: Runners, organizers and those thousands of volunteers throughout Spain who ensure the success of each Canfranc Canfranc race.


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