Around the globe, 1500 triathletes right now are revisiting their training schedules; upping the number of hours they spend in the gym, the number of kilometres they cycle and the gradients of the kilometres they run. With less than four weeks before one of the toughest races in the world, fitness levels have to be at their peak for Ironman Lanzarote 2011.
Now in its 20th year, Ironman Lanzarote has a reputation as one of the most gruelling of competitions. Just to compete is a challenge; to complete the course is a personal triumph and to be in the prize money is to prove yourself to be one of the fittest triathletes on the planet. The Ironman motto reads: An unrivalled test of strength, character and mind-body excellence. Watching these athletes battling pain, fatigue, willpower and the clock, every word of that motto is etched into their faces.
Staged in the Lanzarote resort of Puerto del Carmen, the Ironman race begins with a 3.8 kilometre swim, followed by a 180 kilometre cycle ride which includes 2551 metres of climbing and finishing off with a 42.2 kilometre marathon run. For many, it’s the cycle leg that will present the biggest challenges, getting to grips with Lanzarote’s beautiful but rugged terrain as well as battling the prevailing strong winds.
Over 400 volunteers will be putting in their own marathon stints to help ensure the safety and fairness of the competition helping athletes to apply the essential sunscreen that will protect them from Lanzarote’s fierce sun, manning the aid stations, handling the bikes at change-overs. Thousands of spectators who annually travel to Lanzarote to lend their support and encouragement to these supreme athletes also bring their own essential ingredient to the competition. Amongst them will be Sands Beach Resort, cheering all the athletes on but with a special shout for our friends and sponsored athletes Nicholas (Nico) Muñoz Ward and Marieke Vervoot both of whom we’ll be chatting to in the run up to the competition.
Lanzarote’s volcanic terrain means that the Ironman competition has many similarities to the Hawaii-staged 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship and for that reason, Ironman Lanzarote is seen as essential preparation for that event. Recognised as an official qualifying competition, Ironman Lanzarote has 55 qualifying slots for Hawaii in its grasp and the allocation of those slots on a per age group basis will be announced the day before the event at 3pm at the race venue in Puerto del Carmen.
So it’s all to fight for on May 21st when the race begins with the swim off Playa Grande.
Images by James Mitchell Photography