Brits Unite Trail And Mountain Running In La Palma

As you tuck into your Sunday dinners, 26 athletes representing Great Britain will have christened the European Off Road Running Championships at El Paso on the Canarian island of La Palma. Passing through Los Cristianos, Tenerife for their ferry, the athletes and 7 coaching staff looked confident and relaxed for the three day newly combined event for mountain running and trail racing.

Bejenao mountain dominates La Palma with a 800 metre high peak at an altitude of 1600 metres. It´s the focal point for 10 events to be decided over both disciplines with races uphill only, up and down, or the winding trails. Even before the main competition starts on Friday, there is a mass night race of 6.5 k just to get the legs moving. The weekend is a chance for La Palma to reestablish its credentials as a major venue for athletes who want to challenge nature. In 2020 La Palma hosted the Spanish Mountain Running Championships as the shadow of Covid and the fiirst rumbles of a volcanic eruption loomed large,

Great Britain team manager Mark Croasdale viewed now as the perfect time for his squad to push on with their training programme, many had recently taken part in the Three Peaks Challenge in the UK. “We have a lot of young runners who have recently finished university and exams, this will give them a competitive challenge in a European competition. We flew over from Manchester with no delays or problems (despite much publiced weeks of airport turmoil) landed in Tenerife and now have the short ferry crossing to La Palma. It´s a good squad with strength in depth at all levels.”

Sport has been one constant in the difficult last three years for the Canary Islands but large groups of international swimmers, athletes, beach volleyball players and fun runners have still been heading in to enjoy the weather and facilities. There´s always a big welcome for visitors looking to test themselves against nature.

Basic Errors Wreck CD Tenerife Promotion Party

Three goals created by home defnders sounds like a winning recipe. Sadly, two ended up in CD Tenerife´s home net and handed promotion to Girona FC for a frustrating 1-3 defeat and the end to a thrilling centenary season for the Santa Cruz club.

A well defended 0-0 away leg in Girona had tilted the play off final in favour of the blue and whites, and pre match tickets had been selling on the black market for 500 euros and upwards, others perched on roof tops. Just a few returned away tickets short of the 23,000  ground capacity came hoping for a coronation. It was 13 years since Tenerife last won admittance to the top flight – and that came in a league game at Girona.

Soriano made a powerful punch clearance from Girona´s Juanpe after 18 minutes, the goalie has had an outstanding season between the home sticks. Stuani had been clamped in the away leg but after 41 minutes the secons divisions top scorer was gifted a penalty when home defender Sergio Gonzalez handled the ball. The Uruguay forward stepped up and increased his tally to 24 goals. One of the most consistent of  the Tenerife back four, Sergio was replaced by coach Ramis after the break by Carlos Ruiz. The 39 year old centre back was probably running our for his last game but crowned it with a well headed goal at the post from an inswinging cross by Shaq Moore.

It should have been a signal for a home surge but barely 10 minutes later, Jose Leon was caught in two minds as a fierce strike headed for him. Trying to chest the ball down he deflected it wide of the stranded Soriano. Home goals were a must now, Bermejo and Mario were having quiet games and were replaced by Elady and Brit Sam Shasoua but it didn´t bring an instant solution with time on the Catalan visitors side. Part of the Manchester City group, Girona have a few euros to flash but their killer blow came from a 19 year old youth product, Arnau, who had space and time to trap a 79th minute incoming ball and fire it past Soriano for a 1-3 lead that stuck firm.

It was a heart breaking end to the season. The World Cup means only a few weeks rest before the new season kicks off. Several players have reached the end of their contracts, others will have impressed envious eyes, so there is a lot of work for the management to do. The season has been a huge leap forward, fine tuning is the key rather than the usual wholesale changes but the biggest head scratcher is how to make the patchy home form as good as the points gathered on away travels.



Art By The Tin Full In Tenerife

Andy Warhol may well have given a laid back thumbs up to El Tanque art and music exhibition space in Tenerife capital Santa Cruz. The America icon of the 70´s. A tram ride up to La Laguna and a 50 year retrospective of pop art linked two shows of artistic expression, both free to view, and right on my wavelength.

You can bank on Caja Canarias Fundacion to put on some interesting displays at their cultural space near Plaza del Adelantado in the university town. This Is Pop spotlights 50 years of pop art and music, featuring 60 works that changed peoples perceptions and made art more relevant to the masses.

Damien Hurst, Banksy, and even The Beatles tapped into this well of free expression, all the works are presented in spanish but GR codes open a choice of English commentary. Paintings, videos, and music all benefitted from the pop revolution. UK and America led the way but Spain also picked up on the new media, this is shown via youth magazines that explored day to day themes in cartoon form. Two floors are dedicated to the exhibition. To unlock these key times in modern culture, the free exhibition runs to 30 June from 10 am to 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm to 8 pm weekdays, 10.30 am to 1.30 pm Saturdays, and closed Sundays.

Back down in Santa Cruz, it was a n appropriate time for me to renew my acquaintance with El Tanque, the former fuel storage tank that was first conveted to a venue in 1997. By chance, the nearby huge Cepsa refinery was just begining a long decomission and clean up process. A much smaller operation had just updated El Tanque using banana plants to soften the visual impact of the tank, and a new cafe will be added soon.

The current exhibition was called Uncertainty, by four local young architects. The high roof, subdued lighting, and display of proposals and ideas about how we can live together made an interesting comparison of how we make choices. The first time I called in many years ago, a large suspended J Arthur Rank type gong featured in a spotlight with a large fluffy cod ball drunstick to whack it with – that was suitable weird and satisfying for my tastes.

The acoustics get a fuller workout each year with the annual Keroxen music festival as a selection of bands send their musical offerings on a wall of death ride around the skin of El Tanque. Opening hours for this unusual and innovative venue are 5 pm to 8 pm weekdays and 11 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.


Defenders Of The Dream Inspire CD Tenerife Promotion Attack

Last line, rear guard, or solid stoppers. All negative terms for defenders, but  to CD Tenerife coach Luis Migel Ramis they can be so much more. Centre back Jose Leon cast a giant shadow in the 1-0 home Canarian derby against Las Palmas that started the promotion play offs last four. Leons hooked clearance off the goal line robbed a Las Palmas striker of an easy tap in as the first half unfolded. USA international right back Shaq Moore made his own devine intervention from just under the crossbar.

A few days earlier, the regular league season had ended with a shock 1-2 home defeat to Cartagena. Newly capped Montenegro central defender Nikola Sipcic stood out and scored the consolation goal. That loss and a Las Palmas win saw the Gran Canaria side jump above Tenerife in the final league table. There´s no extra time or penalties in the play offs, aggregate score play off ties are decided by those final league placings. That left Tenerife with an extra incline favouring their neighbours, so a first leg semi advantage was vital.

Jose Leon wasn´t just in top defensive form, he showed clinical finishing after 36 minutes. Mario Gonzalez struck the ball at goalie Alvaro, it rebounded out and Leon drilled his shot with purpose from the edge of the box to bulge the net. The huge sound output of the 19,732 home crowd was instantly cranked up another notch as the yellow wedge of 700 Las Palmas fans squirmed in silence.

The second half was tense, CD Tenerife were pinned down for a while before driving forward with renewed purpose. Andres Martin was floored in the penalty area by keeper Alvaro but the ref showed no interest in the penalty call. Ramis made four changes to try to craft a second goal. The best chance came from an Elady strike that tested the goalie. The crowd urged Tenerife on amidst a swirling mass of scarfs and banners to the final whistle. The outpouring of emotion from the home crowd continued as the players came to the edge of the pitch to salute them as the pride and passion flowed back in waves.

Just a slender lead left the climax of the season hanging by a thread for the away leg. Defensive strength is the hallmark of coach Ramis. That and the travelling 700 plus from Santa Cruz will hopefully push them through to the two legged final against Eibar or Girona.



P42 Rayo Pops Into Tenerife For Armed Forces Day

Stocky, compact but packing a punch, the Spanish patrol ship P42 Rayo chose International Armed Forces Day to make the short crossing from its Las Palmas, Gran Canaria base. Loaded with practical hardware, the 94 metre long  multi purpose ship may have a crew of just 46 but has carried out protection and escort duties in the Atlantic and off flashpoints like Somalia.

It was all welcomes and smiles in Santa Cruz as the captain welcomed the curious up the gangplank to look around. A well stowed helicopter had its own landing pad that minimised down draft and dispersed surplus water. The big Malara gun and the two smaller machine guns added to the firepower if needed. As we toured inside the belly of the beast, there were many small homely touches like the small shrine to the Virgen and a kitchen that stoked the inner fires.

The ship was built in San Fernando in May 2010, the fifth vessel to bear the name. The first Rayo P42 saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when Horacio Nelson sustained fatal injuries. That was less than 10 years after the famous British admiral had lost his arm in a failed attempt to take Tenerife.

It´s not just full on action these days, the captain reminded us the ships importance in a peace keeping or environmental monitoring missions. They were certainly making friends on the visit, especially among the awe struck younger temporary recruits. There was even a table of merchandise with replica caps and t shirts, but sadly no flowing wine.


CD Tenerife Have That Upside Down Feeling

Fear of relegation trumped the hunger for promotion as Malaga out fought and out played CD Tenerife for a 0-2 win in Santa Cruz. For 24 hours the defeat hung like a black cloud over our sunny island, but points dropped by Real Oviedo the next evening confirmed a promotion play off place for Tenerife.

It took just eight minutes for the alarm bells to start clanging when  a raid down Tenerife´s left ended with a dipping cross that Carlos Ruiz failed to cut out, leaving a free Vadillo header past a hesitant Dani Hernandez covering for suspended Soriano.  Malaga were giving two 21 year old fringe players  a chance, Olmo running from deep was constantly testing Mellot but the French home defender did well to limit his influence. Mario Gonzalez had the best home chance of the first half but was held back by a Malaga defender when aiming his shot.

Tenerife looked half paced with Alex Corredera very quiet in midfield, Elady and Gallego were struggling to muster a decent shot between them. Surely a half time breather would restore the pecking order as suggested by league placings, but it just got worse. Three minutes after the restart, Dani blocked a shot with his knees and it rebounded out to Febas to double the agony.

Molledo was aggressive as always on the left but he was a little too wild to produce a cool, clean strike. Coach Ramis gambled with a double change just before the hour. Shaq Moore replaced Mellot at right back and forced a finger tip save after a dash down the wing and a pin point cross. Nahuel, rarely making even a spot on the bench, also came on but despite his powerful runs inside off the left, he had no end product.

Malaga were feisty, argumentative, and rime wasting, everything you would expect from a side fighting to avoid the drop. Tenerife were a shadow of their away game majesty and couldn´t claw their way back. Injuries and suspensions, plus nerves are bound to be playing a part, but they can now experiment a little in their two remaining regular league games before the two legged semi and hopefully final. Once again a big crowd, 14,672, went away dissapointed but the dream is still alive.


Hard Work And Hard Knocks Inspire San Juan De La Rambla

Hemmed in by the sacred mountain Fortaleza and a 9.000 year old black lava trail down to the sea, San Juan de la Rambla has had to dig deep to express itself. The result is a defiant and colourful municipality in the north of Tenerife.

The TF 5 road linking Icod de Los Vinos to Puerto de la Cruz delivered me from my TITSA bus, close ro one of several old concrete tunnels perched above the coast. Looking up it was a little dark and fornoding, especially taking the mini tunnel under the busy mainroad, but within minutes I was marvelling at the beauty in the old village of San Juan de la Rambla. The entire municipality boasts just under 5,000 inhabitants.

The bright colours of the buildings and the well maintained flower borders showed a sense of pride at work, and plenty of tradition. A calvaro made a sturdy home for the religious crosses and just beyond, a small neat plaza led to some age weary old houses. Despite their peeling paint, they had a certain nobility about them. and a few scattered clothes washing troughs were another link to the past.

Local rock dating back 2 million years had been quarried on a small scale in the past and the work had taken its toll on many younger workers. Ornaments and even parts of the nearby cemetary were adorned with locally crafted work, some of the extracted ore was even transported to South America. A monument paid tribute to the hard and dangerous quarry work.

The village hasn´t sat still since its industrial past. A newer, low level housing development sloped down to the Charco La Laja rock pool via a reinforced series of paths and ample warnings of times and rides ro avoid. On this sunny afternoon, the sparkling water had attracted a small crowd of swimmers and anglers. High up above the popular dipping point, a small spring trickled water down to the sea, and views both ways along the coast showed a series of rugged coves.

Heading back up, I swerved along and past several welcoming bars and cafes before finding the church and plaza of San Juan (John the Baptist) with its very detailed clock face. Striding up to my original access point, I couldn´t help imagine how horrific the record rainfall floods of 1826 must have been as water swept down off the mountain. Work was underway to widen the entry point to the village and the closed Tourist Information office had plenty of good information and maps on disply outside. A couple of walks caught my eyes and will draw me back to check out a route from up the mountain and down through the Barranco Ruiz.


Goalies Grab Glory As CD Tenerife Step Nearer To Play Offs

Expansive, attacking football lit up the Heliodoro stadium as CD Tenerife and SD Huesca showed that O – O can be compulsive viewing. Huesca still had a long shot at sneaking into the promotion play offs  and started out with five players leading a forward charge. Jose Leon had to defuse a couple of early raids, and Soriano made a fine full length dive to deflect a partially obscured Huesca shot. Fernandez also felt his gloves stinging after two close range blocks from Mollejo. Timor fancied his chances but found Soriano´s safe hands defying him. Alez Muñoz was linking well with Bermejo who couldn´t find a way past the visiting stopper. It was action all the way.

Pulses were racing after that frantic first half. Muñoz injury problems meant he had to give way to Pomares for the second half as Tenerife assumed the dominant role. Pomares found his defensive partner Seergio Gonzalez with a long pass that resulted in a fierce shot at the Huesca keeper. Iy was gripping stuff to watch as the search for the break through heated up. Sergio Gonzalez has made his name on steady defending but was enjoying his forward runs to support strikers Elady and Gallego, and he showed he has a powerful shot on him too.

Coach Ramis freshened up the forward positions with 15 minutes left with Andres Martin and Mario Gonzalez replacing the two leading scorers. Huesca added their own extra fire power but Mario had the best late chance, only to be denied by Fernandez. Gallant Huesca said goodbye to their promotion hopes but CD Tenerife are still well placed in fourth spot with just 5 regular games before the play offs. It was a refreshing match to watch after the visits of so many teams of spoilers had gone before, and deserved more than the 11,970 crowd.


Breaching The Adeje Fortress Of Industry, Commerce, And Culture

Panting up hill from Adeje town centre has tweaked many hikers muscles ready for the plunge into Barranco del Invierno, one of the most trodden walks in Tenerife. The sturdy canon outside the battle weary walls of Casa Fuerte may have hinted at the strategic value of the “strong house” but now a full appreciation of this 500 year old home and fortress is open to visitors. A new Sunday initiative of an artesans market was in full swing with music and crafts on my visit.

Where pirates failed to destroy the Casa Fuerte, fire had more success in 1902, but on this clear morning the missing sections of roof showcased natures ingredients that had inspired the original sugar refinery on the same site. This sweet production process was the biggest of its kind in Tenerife.

The proud white tower of the country house still looks lout over the 7,200 square metres of courtyards, gardens, servant quarters, and industrial and agricultural work spaces. Boilers and other production stock gleamed as hand held tools clinged to walls. I felt a swell of pride to see that some items were made in England. Wooden barrels, now empty, would have lubricated many a social gathering. Wine, art, and needlework were among the many items for sale in the market area, harking back to the days when this was the social centre of Adeje.

Casa Fuerte is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 1 pm, and the artesans market is expected to become a monthly treat. The website will keep you up with further developments.Views down to the coast show a very changed landscape, vut the fortress is regaining its modern relevance at the same time as shining a light on the past.

CD Tenerife Turn Up The Promotion Heat

Sizzling in the stands and grilling on the grass. Easter Sunday weather turned the Heliodoro stadium into a cauldron  as the home heroes romped to a tasty 3-1 win over relegation strugglers Fuenlabrada. The visitors were very poor but all the home players kept sharp and clinical, this was no time for banana skins.

The return of influential left back Alex Muñoz from injury added a calmness to defence and a smooth supply line to Bermejo who has become a key regular on the left flank. Pablo Larrea got the midfileld nod over Alexandre Corredera. Although he hasn´t got the same creative skills, he had the same work rate and linked defence to attack with a hard edged determination.

After 27 minutes Mellot crossed from out wide for Enric Gallego who shook off his marker and blasted his shot past the back peddling keeper to take the lead. The second goal was even better just five minutes from the break. A defender lost the ball, Gallego took a short step away and looped the ball high and over the advancing goalie. That took Gallego to 10 goals so far this season.

Into the second half and Larrea with a booking that tots up a one game ban, made way for Alexandre. There was no let up for Fuenlabrada, Mario Gonzalez was also tormenting them and got his reward with some smart reactions. A corner ball found Mario with plenty of space to side foot the despondent stopper. A few minutes after, Mario gave way to Elady, who leads the way with 11 strikes so far. There are plenty of goals in this Tenerife squad, that will prove vital in the promotion play offs.

There was a rare lapse from the home side after 63 minutes, when Pedrro Leon was knocked to the ground in the box and stepped up to convert the penalty. Tenerife were still dominant, Mollejo had free range up front and was causing havoc. Diame was a late sub for Fuenlabrada, the former Wigan, West Ham, Hull, and Newcastle player was a recent free agent after a spell in the Qatar league. Vastly overweight and clumsy, the defender tried holding Elady back before grounding him with a belly flop that shook Santa Cruz. The ref ignored a possible penalty but it was still a convincing victory in front of 11,763 fans and leaves just 6 regular season games.