Just weeks after a blistering performance brought him an age group victory in the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, he took on something bigger.
Juanjo Larrotcha lined up at the Iceland Volcano Ultramarathon facing 280 km of challenges. They would include lava, moss, black sand beaches and imposing height gain. An average temperature of 10 degrees C accompanies 20-22 hours of light per day at this far northern location.
Day One saw Juanjo finish third of the 30 runners, having waded across a river in the cold and continued. He completed the day two 32 km in second, and repeated this over 35 km on day three. Day four was longer and he was second again. The weather turned against them forcing day five to be cancelled, and Juanjo won the last stage to consolidate his second overall. This last stage was 64 km with 1700 m height gain.
Juanjo leaves with memories of a spectacular race amid breathtaking scenery. The only man to finish quicker than Juanjo was a fellow Spaniard for whom Juanjo has great respect. Juanjo felt he could match Chema on mountainous terrain, but not on the flat.
“Shared hand in hand with Chema Martinez, it has been a fantastic opportunity to get to know a great athlete more closely but also a great person” he wrote on Instagram. ”Together we have been able to visit some of the most amazing scenarios that our retinas have ever seen and that is that Iceland is a dream scenario where Nature is shown with an absolutely indescribable beauty and power.” (Translated from Spanish)
Juanjo has been mainly vegan since 2015 and fully committed since 2019.
“My main motivation to become vegan is related to health, environmental and animal compassion issues” Juanjo told Great Vegan Athletes. “I’m fully convinced that a vegan world would be a better world in many aspects, so I try to do my bit. This is the end of a personal growth process that involves the way I feed myself and how this nutrition influences my overall health, athletic performance and peace of mind. It is great to know that you are not contributing to animal suffering.”