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When the number of cyclists on the Lanzarote roads increases significantly, it can only mean one thing: one of the sporting events for which the island is famous must be imminent. Ironman is probably the most famous of these. Attracting sportsmen and women from around the globe, this gruelling triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26.2 miles 42.195 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.
I have never even watched Ironman (never mind take part!) but only because I’ve always been put off by the crowds that descend upon Puerto del Carmen at that time. So it was with interest that I heard about the latest triathlon to come to the island which was to be based in my home town of Playa Blanca - Enduroman.
And so it was that I ventured out, camera in hand, on a gloriously sunny Saturday in February to see this spectacle for myself. There was a small crowd gathered on the seafront just by the Hotel Calimera - I’d made it in time for the start of the half Enduroman, a 1.9km swim. Although the weather was warm and sunny, with only a slight breeze, the sea itself was choppy - not ideal conditions for the swimmers. Despite there only being a small crowd, the atmosphere was great and the enthusiasm of the spectators catching. Music was played over loudspeakers, interrupted every so often by an announcement in Spanish, German and English.
The first swimmer out of the sea was greeted by cheers and applause - and I was delighted to hear that it was the only person I knew who was taking part - one of our clients from Matagorda Bay, Ian Hamilton. He was streets ahead of the next swimmers in, who were helped out of the sea and then ran 100 yards or so to get their bikes for the next leg. I was highly impressed - actually running after that marathon effort in the sea, and they still had hours of cycling and running left to do!
We see sports people in Lanzarote all year round, not just at big events like this. Why is the island such a popular place with athletes? The weather is obviously a big factor - when it’s not possible to train in the UK or elsewhere in Europe because of rain, ice and snow, the temperate climate of Lanzarote is a haven for runners and cyclists. As well as that, the terrain on the island is ideal and provides as challenging a course as anyone could wish for, be it off the beaten track or on some of the main roads (which are a lot quieter than back home).
In the course of my work I’ve had the privilege of meeting quite a few of these admirable triathletes - it makes perfect sense if you’re coming over to Lanzarote frequently for training to have a base here and now is a great time to buy with prices at a historic low. A one or two-bedroom apartment in Puerto del Carmen, or Matagorda, provides the perfect base and somewhere to keep your belongings so that you can take advantage of the cheaper flights on offer these days and just board with hand luggage. What’s more, if you’re not using your apartment or villa yourself, why not let it to another enthusiast and bring in some income? Sports clubs are a great for networking and you’d never be short of potential renters.
As for me, I’ll never be a triathlete, watching is tiring enough for me! However, having experienced my first triathlon, albeit as a spectator, I’m converted and will be back to cheer along the competitors next time.
Well done all you triathletes - and Ian especially!