A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Lanzarote deportiva: ¿cómo preparar el Ironman más duro del mundo?

Ironman is a triathlon event with a swim course of 3.8 km, a bike course of 180 km and a 42-km marathon. 1992 was an Olympic year and one of marked change for Barcelona. That same year, 2,700 km south of Barcelona, Kenneth Gasque brought the Ironman to Lanzarote for the first time, having previously headed a sports centre on the island since 1983 and competed in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 1985. From the outset, he waits for each competitor at the finish. After 22 events, in 2014 I was one of the more than 2,200 participants who received a hug from that endearing man at the end of the race. You can be sure I’ll be competing again but, if you would like to train for it too, here are five tips to get you started. The next event is on 23 May.

1. Ironman is not necessarily an event for just anyone. What I mean is that, if you want to do triathlon, you don’t need to start with the blue-ribbon or longest event.

2. Set yourself a realistic goal and plan each detail carefully. Don’t forget the invisible training (nutrition, massage and rest), flight bookings, registration (be warned – it gets sold out!), accommodation, as well as preparing and thoroughly testing your equipment well beforehand.

3. Train on the island for a few days in advance. Knowing the island is key. Constant, 40-knot winds; gusts of up to 60 knots and running under the sun, at a temperature of over 30°C, with wind. Your bodily sensation is delusive because you feel cool, when in reality you are rapidly dehydrating. You have to learn to pedal into the wind while ensuring you stay hydrated and protected from the sun (sun block and cap). To prep for the event there are training centres such as the one run by the organiser, Club La Santa, or races like el tri122 Costa Teguise. Here are some guidelines if you are unable to get here a few days ahead: avoid broad-profile tyres and choose a gear ratio that will facilitate a high-cadence ride. There are no large passes but the wind is worse than in a category 1 mountain pass.

4. On the day of the race, don’t create barriers – flow and enjoy. Forget the stopwatch – Lanzarote is a race that depends on sun and wind conditions on the day, which is what determines the duration of each course, and you need to be prepared to adapt.

5. Come accompanied and pamper your “groupies”. For me, this is the most important point – your family and friends also deserve a prize. Start off with a hearty dinner after the race. I recommend the Italian eatery, La Casa dil Parmigiano, for dinner, after the event. It is next to the finish and has a relaxed atmosphere, despite the bustle of the race. But, make sure you book ahead! Then relax – they have years of experience feeding famished finishers.

It’s a good idea to again calmly savour the beauty of the bike course by later driving across Lanzarote (Cicar is the local car-hire company and you can pick up and drop off the vehicle at almost any point on the island). This way you can make tactical stops at key points on the course.

Landscape

Timanfaya and the Mirador del Río viewpoint are the most spectacular.  And, if you’re a vegetarian, you can stop to eat at the restaurante Puerta Verde in Haría.

Switching Off

Take a trip to La Graciosa, known as “the 8th island”, which can be reached by boat from Órzola. Once there, be sure to hire a bicycle and tour the island, and end up eating at the Restaurante Girasol. Order the fish of the day and the tarta de la abuela (granny tart), a stunning variation on your grandma’s Marie biscuits… and mine, too.

Local fare

The Teleclub de Tao comes highly recommended. For a light, traditional dish, don’t fail to try la vieja a la espalda con papas arrugadas y mojo.“La vieja” is a South American fish which in the Canary Islands is found mainly around Lanzarote – a simple but tasty, typical Lanzarote fish dish. A piece of advice if you’re a newbie – don’t come upstairs if you’ve had amojosauce that’s repeating on you!

Sun and Sea

From El Golfo, heading towards Playa Blanca, you come to the calas de Papagayo (Parrot coves), an ideal spot for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing to switch off altogether in the turquoise-blue waters, with views of Lobos Island off Fuerteventura.

Overdrive

if you’re not exhausted after reading through this posting, your thing is going into overdrive! In that case you should stop at Famara to do surfing or kitesurfing, in which you glide over the water pulled by a powerful kite. This cove is always crammed with surfers and you can take lessons from the pros. One of the instructors who can help you is José María Cabrera, who runs a surf school where you prep on dry sand before completing your training in the sea. I had a coffee with Manuel Lezcano, who explained how the school works. It seemed like a professionally sound teaching methodology based on safety.

I bet you’re now anxious to start training and live out the adventure on Lanzarote! Check out our flights here!

Text by Raúl Casañas

Images by Ginés Díaz, Ïoana Manolache