Ahh the trouble you can get into with an attractive woman and a bottle of wine…
Needless to say that was a friend passing around a “sign up” sheet to do Ironman Lanzarote 2015….
Nearly a year later…I’m back in Lanzarote with sun still below the horizon on the beach of joined by ExpaTRIés Roberto Townsend, friends gathered along the journey here and 1700 other aspiring or veteran Lanza IM’ers.
Lanzarote is renowned for hills, strong winds and high temperatures, but the swell and wind had dropped from the previous couple of days fierce 40-50kph so the sea was calm and clear as we warmed up in the pre-dawn twilight, so the gods must be smiling on the competitors lining up in the pen for the massed start.
The gun went and it’s an amazing sight to see hundreds of people piling into sea ahead of you. A bit of rough and tumble at the start but it spread out pretty fast over the first 400m so not too much of a scrum in the water now time to settle into a rhythm for the rest of the 3.8k swim.
But it’s said the gods have a sense of humour…
as we discovered about 800m into the swim as the wind kicked up to “turn on the washing machine” so the rest of the swim was more about staying calm and conserving energy for the rest of the race.
Out of the water through a 400m long transition area and time to start pedalling…
The first 5k are pretty benign through Carmen then you turn uphill into the 40kph wind for the next 15k and as you drop into bottom gear so early on your mind says “Is it really going to be like this the whole way round?!” But there is some relief: A long smooth tailwind descent to El Golfo and then back round to the first major climb. Fire Mountain: 5k, 5-10% gradient into that wind… 50k done.
The long descent to La Santa into the wind leaves you feeling battered. Then over the small rise at Soo, and onto Famara (twitchy for those on deep section rims with the cross gusts). Time to start climbing again…back up through Teguise. 90k done.
Onto the Windmills…After the initial 10% climb there are several false summits and strong headwinds making this the soul searching section of the Bike Leg as you’ve still got 80k, Mirador del Rio and Nazaret waiting for you.
A fast hair-pinned descent into Haria and then it’s climbing again up to Mirador del Rio (Phew! The last big climb done). A beautiful descent at over 80kph (finally some tailwind!) takes you to Arrieta for the final 40k drag home. Back uphill into the wind at Tahiche and then the bone-rattling near off road stretch through Nazaret and its back to Carmen for T2.
“It’s all about the bike” wasn’t the quote for this race. The bike may be the longest section and battering but it’s the run you HAVE to save your energy for. 25-30C in the shade (which you’re not) and strong headwinds on the first 10k out to the first turn sap the legs from the start. 25-35k was a blur (not in a good way…) but the Supporters are amazing and the eager Aid Station Volunteers encourage you the whole way through.
Then it’s the final 2k and you will your legs to keep running to the Finishers’ Chute and the Announcer’s call:
“You are AN IRONMAN”
I deliberately chose Lanzarote as a first IM as it’s such a tough course I knew I would have to respect it and not worry about a time goal. I suffered (adding about an hour on the run, to finish in 13:05) and like many first events may have to come back and exorcise some demons… However for all that it’s an amazing race with great organisation and supporters that I’d thoroughly recommend.
As the eminent Sports Psychologist, Professor Schwarzenegger said…”I’ll be Back!”
I’ll leave Roberto to tell his side of the story, and just for reference at the top end…
Lanzarote 2015 Challenge Roth 2014 (fast and flat)
1st Male Pro 8:56 7:56
1st Female Pro 9:56 8:38