Ironman Lanzarote, where the Gods come down to Earth

Ironman is an international race that takes place at different points on the planet in search of the best in each category, the so-called iron men and women. 

The first Ironman race took place in Hawaii back in 1978, where 15 participants registered and 12 finished the race. They were given bags with roadmaps and the instructions to be followed. They ended with the phrase: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!” (Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!).

No wonder. The winner of this first edition was a taxi driver, Gordon Haller, with a time of 11:46:58 

Much has changed since that race and participation has grown exponentially. From 15 brave participants who wanted to show their endurance, it grew to the 2000 people who sign up each year for some tests performed during this competition that takes place the world over. 

How did Ironman reach Lanzarote?

It was back in 1992 when 144 athletes ran for the first time on the island of the volcanoes. Even though only 116 of them managed to finish the race, it was a turning point in the sporting history of Lanzarote. 

A few years before that, a Dane, Kenneth Gasque, arrived on the island to work as the sports team leader at the Club La Santa complex and saw the island’s potential. 

Except for the distance between them, Hawaii and Lanzarote may have much more in common than you might imagine. To begin with, both islands are of volcanic origin, and they’re peppered with areas of Badlands. It is quite understandable that Gasque discovered the potential of this island located in Macaronesia. 

In addition, today, Hawaii is number one, followed by Lanzarote, as hosts of two of the toughest races on the worldwide circuit. 

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the events. First, the star of our story had to get approval from the people in charge of Ironman in order to present Lanzarote as a new event organiser. He didn’t make it to Hawaii, so he went to Roth, Germany. It was there they he got a subcontract for 50 spots, and later for 60, to organise an Ironman event in Lanzarote. 

From there, sky was the limit. This was a beginning of the race that, year after year, puts the competition in Lanzarote and Club La Santa on the map, making it one of the hardest tests of the competition. 

It’s tough not just because of its dizzying slopes, but, most especially, because of its winds and its weather changes. 

Lanzarote is not very big is size, but its terrain makes it possible to start off from a hot and sunny Playa Blanca and reach the Mirador del Rio battered by strong gusts of wind, clouds impeding visibility and lower temperatures. 

Moreover, many professionals agree that, on average, it takes an hour longer to finish the race in Lanzarote in comparison with other races. The wind may be a great ally in some segments, but when it comes to others, you’ll wish you’d never met it. 

How are the Ironman Lanzarote tests divided?

The Ironman Lanzarote is held each year in May. It starts at 7 o’clock in the morning at the Puerto del Carmen and its maximum duration is 17 hours. It is composed of three modalities, just like a triathlon, but with some slight differences when it comes to distance. 

The first part is swimming, which starts at dawn from the Playa Grande in the Puerto del Carmen. There is no better way to wake up than venturing into the cool waters of the Atlantic for a 3.8 km swim.  It’s very important to keep in mind that the water currents are usually quite strong there and there is often groundswell. 

Once they get out of water, athletes are up for a 180-km bike race around the island. Obviously, they have to bike the entire island from north to south and east to west, riding in an almost circular route. Taking into account that Lanzarote is 62 km long and 21 km wide, this is the only way to hold the race without leaving the island. 

After they stop pedalling, the athletes, who have almost become demi-gods at that point, get off their bikes and put on their running shoes to start the marathon, which, this time, is raced through the street that runs parallel to the sea. The views are impressive there, but not so much the humidity and heat of May. This is one more factor that makes this race one of the toughest on the planet. 

The finish line and the glory await the finalists at the Puerto del Carmen, very close to where they set off for their swims in the morning. 

Professionals finish the race after some eight hours of competition. Depending on their skills and capacity, the rest will finish after 12 hours, on average. However, the organisers have set a maximum of 17 hours to finish the race. 

The true challenge here is not to make the best time, but rather to finish. It means crossing the finish line with the least possible discomfort, or even with it, but actually making it. That’s the true glory for anyone who takes on this adventure. 

Many months of hard training and sacrifices lead to this big day. Most people think that the hard part consists of getting ready and that the race is there to enjoy. 

Keep this in mind if Ironman Lanzarote is your next goal. 

Even if you don’t feel ready for the full Ironman, the organisers offer a reduced option, which is half of the kilometres in each modality, but with the same intensity, as Lanzarote doesn’t cut any slack even for Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote

If you’d like to undertake one of the world’s toughest competitions and become an Ironman, this official webpage lists all requirements and dates. 

This race offers classifying slots for the world Ironman championship held each year in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, so it’s a thoroughly tough challenge to be undertaken.  

Things to keep in mind if you come to Ironman in Lanzarote.

Whether you come as an athlete or as a spectator, you should keep in mind that the Start and Finish points are set at the Puerto del Carmen on the day of competition.

You should be mindful of various roadblocks on the island, so don’t schedule very lengthy trips on that day.  Official websites will provide all relevant information about the routes and schedule for these roadblocks. 

As an athlete, you should register in advance. 

And if you’d like to participate as a volunteer, this link will provide you with all the important information. 

For more information, race sponsor Club La Santa and the organisers of Ironman Lanzarote will have all the necessary details on their websites about this magnificent sporting event. 

This article has been written with all the love we feel for Lanzarote. We hope that you enjoy Ironman Lanzarote as much as we have enjoyed writing this section. 

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