DAMIAN Hall opens his 2019 racing programme this weekend – and is happy to be starting the Transgrancanaria Ultra beneath the radar.

While the Box international trail star enjoyed the best year of his career in 2019, rising to seventh in the world trail rankings, he is not listed among the favourites for the race that starts at 11pm on Friday – and barely makes the also-rans.

“Looking at the entry list, I am only ranked 26th on current points and that suits me fine,” said Hall, who is a member of Corsham Running Club.

“I recently saw a press release from the organisers talking about the favourites for the race and I wasn’t mentioned. In fact, I wasn’t even mention among the second favourites.

“No one is paying me any attention at all. To be honest, that suits me just fine."

As the name suggests, the Transgranaria event crosses the entire island of Gran Canaria, including seven mountains totalling 24,000 feet of ascent in 79 miles.

It is the first major event in Europe of the 2019 Ultra Trail World Tour, and as such has attracted a top class entry for the start on Las Palmas beach.

Hall added: “Bonus points are being offered to runners doing well in this race, so it has attracted a classy field, including top runners from America and Spain.

“No one knows who is in really good shape at the moment, so it will be interesting to see how the event goes. My C target is just to finish, my B target is a the top 10 and my A target is to finish as high as possible.

“I feel I am in in good shape and I am very excited about the race as I think it will suit me even though it is looks to be quite rocky under-foot.

“But I like racing through the night when it will be quiet and cool, although I hear that the locals come out to cheer on the runners at night.

“All being well, I should finish some time on Saturday.”