If you’ve ever been to Ironman Lanzarote, you’ll know it’s a massive competition, with more than 2,000 athletes and close to 5,000 volunteers and officials making it all happen.
Ironman Lanzarote is a triathlon event which consists of a 3.8KM swim, a 180KM bike ride and a 42.2KM marathon – each segment following straight on from the last.
About 50 of those 2,000 competitors are professionals. They will complete the course in somewhere between 8 and 10 hours, and they are dedicated to their craft full-time. The other 1950 are called “age groupers.” They’re people like you and I – most training hard all year while holding down a full time job, and dealing with the cost of entry (€450,) flights and accommodation in many cases and equipment prices that would make your eyes water.
There’s no prize money for them – they get a medal, a finisher’s shirt and the kudos of having competed in the world’s toughest triathlon.
The World’s Toughest
There are around 37 full distance Ironman events around the world. They all consist of a 3.8KM swim, a 180KM bike ride and a 42.2KM marathon.
Lanzarote is the toughest for several reasons – the swim is in The Atlantic, with the swells associated, the bike course climbs over 2,500 metres, often into a strong northerly wind and the marathon generally takes place in searing heat.
The drop out rate is high.
So, let’s have a look at the detail
Ironman Lanzarote starts at 7AM prompt, from the beach. When the klaxon sounds, all 2,000 competitors funnel into the ocean – it can be chaotic!
The swim consists of two 1.9KM loops, following a line of buoys offshore, for a total of 3.8KM. Athletes swim straight away from the beach, and then turn left and swim along the coast, before turning at around the 800 meter mark, coming back to the start area to run along the beach and over a timing mat, before diving back in for the second loop.
Conditions can vary considerably, according to the wind. It can be a glassy and smooth swim, or there can be an uncomfortable swell. The fastest athletes will do the swim in about 45 minutes, most will complete it in between an hour and 1.5 hours. There is a cut off time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, and any athletes left in the water will be disqualified.
The bike phase is the killer section of Ironman Lanzarote. The course heads out from Puerto del Carmen, inland towards Tias, then south to El Golfo, before turning north for several hours of climbing into a head wind. All the way to Mirador del Rio, and finally coming back down the centre of Lanzarote and into Puerto del Carmen.
The course is 180KM long and climbs over 2,500 metres. There are nine aid stations along the route, giving athletes, energy drinks, water and fruit.
The pro athletes will take around 5.5 hours to compete for the bike course. Most age groupers will take between 6 and 8 hours. The cut off time is 1830, and anyone still on the course will be disqualified.
Ironman Lanzarote finishes with a full marathon – 42.2KM or 26 miles. The run consists of 3 loops along the costal promenade from Puerto del Carmen. On the first, longer, loop the athletes run all the way to Playa Honda, and on the second two, they go as far as Matagorda before turning.
The run course is mercifully flat, but heat is usually the issue as the Lanzarote sun sears down. Incredibly, despite having already swum and biked, the pro athletes will complete the marathon in about 3 hours. Most will take from 4 to 6 hours, and many will finally finish their endeavour close to the midnight cut off.
Casas del Mar Lanzarote wish all competitors a lot off success!