Romanian Claudiu Beletoiu and French Claire Bannwarth emerge as the winners of the 360º The Challenge Gran Canaria

Claidiu Beletoiu y Claire Bannwarth ©iancorless
17 Nov, 2023

Beletoiu covered 159 out of the 269 kilometers of the race solo, securing his first victory in his sixth participation.

The French athlete arrives at the finish line in the overall second position, trailing the winner by two hours, and claims her fourth consecutive triumph in the women’s category

At 5:26 p.m. in the afternoon, the winner of the 360º The Challenge Gran Canaria, Claudiu Beletoiu, crossed the finish line located in the urban center of Tejeda, confirming himself as the strongest athlete of this eighth edition after covering the 269 kilometers and accumulating 14,000 meters of elevation in 56 hours, 26 minutes, and 6 seconds. Following him, in second place and first in the women’s classification, was the French athlete Claire Bannwarth, who recorded a time of 58 hours, 29 minutes, and 40 seconds.

Bannwarth will ascend to the top of the women’s podium for the fourth consecutive time this Sunday. The 34-year-old Frenchwoman moved into second place yesterday at noon after the Santa Lucía de Tirajana life base, surpassing José Bordón, and stayed within 10 kilometers of Beletoiu during the last day to ultimately improve on her fourth overall position from last year.

“I feel very tired, but also very proud because the course this year was tough and unusual, making it a challenging test,” acknowledged Bannwarth. She also emphasized that her only strategy during this race was “to be as fast as possible; I wasn’t focused on whether I was the first woman or second in the overall standings.”

Bannwarth further explained that she hasn’t slept since leaving Tejeda on Wednesday. “I don’t need to sleep in races lasting less than three days,” she emphasized. On the first day, around kilometer 80, she broke her stick, so, being a self-sufficiency race, she fixed it with the materials she had to carry part of it to the finish line.

On the other hand, the 32-year-old Romanian athlete led the race firmly from kilometer 110 when he took the lead solo after leaving behind the Gran Canarian Javier Blanco, who later retired at the Santa Lucía de Tirajana life base. In his sixth edition, and after finishing third in 2022 and 2021, he finally uncorked the champagne of victory in a race he considers one of the toughest, “with lots of vegetation, ups and downs with stones, and sections that are not visible.”

“I’m destroyed, but I’m happy,” admitted the always smiling Beletoiu, who pointed out after crossing the finish line that the key in races like these is to stay hydrated throughout. “My advice is to buy water and liquid at every opportunity you have. You may lose time in the store, but you gain it in the competition because you will move much faster,” he indicated. He added that he didn’t expect the heat of these days since he had been on the island for three weeks, staying in El Saucillo, where it had been raining until the arrival of the current heatwave.

The first day was the most challenging for him, where, with the heat, most of the withdrawals from the race occurred. “Before and after La Aldea, I suffered from the heat, while after Mogán, where there was a stretch for 10 kilometers with nothing but dry vegetation, it was horrible to get through; you couldn’t run and almost couldn’t walk.” Like Bannwarth, Beletoiu also hasn’t slept in these two days, as he tried but couldn’t.

On Friday night, it is expected that the Gran Canarian José Bordón, participating for the first time in this race, will reach the finish line to finish in third overall and second in the men’s category. Behind him, third in the men’s classification is the Italian Luca Papi, who aims to complete his eighth 360º, where he has achieved four victories.

Soňa Kopčoková, second among women, continues the race, fighting to finish among the top 20 overall, while the Hungarian Szilvia Lubics aims to be third, positioning herself near Valsequillo. Two more athletes, the Czech Martin Blaha and the Japanese Mitsuo Moriya, retired on Friday afternoon, leaving 25 runners (21 men, two women, and two relay runners) still in the race. They have until 2 p.m. next Sunday to cross the finish line. Their progress can be followed live on the website, where fans can even send them messages of encouragement. Also, the social media accounts of 360º The Challenge Gran Canaria continuously update the race’s situation.

The 360º The Challenge Gran Canaria is organized by Arista Eventos and is sponsored by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria through Turismo de Gran Canaria and Gran Canaria Isla Europea del Deporte, the Government of the Canary Islands with Promotur – Islas Canarias, the Tejeda City Council, and Fred. Olsen Express. It also collaborates with the companies Lorenzo González Automoción, Gofio La Piña, Inerza, and Provital.