The twenty-fifth edition of the prestigious Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote 2016 draws 1900 triathletes of 50 nationalities this Saturday, 21st May at 07:00h, with both start and finish in the tourist resort of Puerto del Carmen.
This international event, organized by Club La Santa and the Cabildo of Lanzarote, has grown at a staggering speed, increasing from 148 participants in 1992 to the 1900 that will have entered this year to celebrate the silver anniversary of one of the world’s toughest and most demanding triathlon events.
The Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote, which brings together athletes of ages ranging between 18 and 73 years, including 728 Spaniards, of which 292 live in the Canary Islands, 425 Brits and 145 Germans, among the many other nationalities from different continents.
Our athletes, each with the same dream and equally prepared to suffer in Lanzarote, will first have to complete the two-loop, 3.8km swim, of the circuit laid out at Playa Grande.
These “Iron men and women” will race the clock to try to be the fastest out of the water before taking on the 180.2km bike course though the volcanic scenery of the island, with a total climb of 2551m to make their own IRONMAN history.
The bike course starts and finish at Puerto del Carmen, passes through the symbolic towns of Yaiza, El Golfo, Tinajo, Famara, Teguise, el Mirador de Haria, el Mirador del Rio, Arrieta, Tahiche and Nazaret.
Finally, our asphalt warriors will fight it out in a 42.2k marathon, in three loops, in an extreme test of endurance, and heart, against the high temperatures, but with the support of thousands of spectators to cheer and push them along to achieve their personal and competitive goals.
The Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote counts on 52 triathlon professionals, among them the top seeds, Germany’s Jan Frodeno, current world IRONMAN champion and gold medallist at the 2008 Olympics in Pekin, Timo Bracht, winner and record-holder (08:30:34) of this event in 2011, Spanish Iván Raña, Olympic diploma holder at Sydney 2000 and Pekin 2008, as well as his compatriot Miquel Blanchart, vice-champion in Lanzarote in 2013 and 2014.
In addition, north American athlete Jesse Thomas and British Stephen Bayliss and David McNamee – eleventh at the last world championships – come in good shape after winning the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon and the IRONMAN UK, respectively.
Among the women, Germans Diana Riesler, defending champion of the Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote, Tine Holst and Nicole Woysch, British girls Caroline Livesey and Lucy Charles; American Alyssa Godesky, Danish Anne Jensen, Belgian Alexandra Tondeur and Spanish Saleta Castro, third in Lanzarote’s 2013 edition, lead the list of female Pros this year.
Frodeno admits to being “very excited” in taking part in an event which is “on the bucket list of every triathlete” and as a step towards a possible second world title.
“I can’t really talk about winning right now, I’m recovering from injury, but if I were to win I would celebrate in style! It’s been a really intense year, with lots of promotional commitments after winning the world title… my son Luca was born, I got injured, so we’ll have to see what happens on Saturday. I tend to suffer a little more with the muscle injury in colder water, so I’m not sure how it will affect my swim,” he evaluates.
Fellow countryman Bracht points out that the Lanzarote race is “extremely demanding as you battle with the elements and conditions, but above everything, you’re alone and mostly the challenge is against yourself.”
“My goal is to finish in the top 3, although I’d love to win as it would be my tenth IRONMAN victory, something I believe no other German has done before. The field is very strong though, it’s almost like a world championship.” “My strategy is to maintain my performance at its top level throughout the race, then digging deep to accelerate in the last kilometres of the run,” he says.
At the same time, Galician Raña, who needs to finish in the top four to qualify for Kona, assures that he’s “ready” for his first long-distance Lanzarote event and to win would be “one of the most important moments of my life”.
“I have a lot of respect for this course, especially the bike route, with its hills, and hills are my strong point, and it’s very technical, he explains.”
Raña believes that to win in Lanzarote you have to be a very strong and complete athlete.
“There are some great names in this edition, like Frodeno and Bracht, for example, IRONMAN champions. I’ll need to stick close to Frodeno in the swim and bike, especially as he’s good in the first, flatter parts, but I think I’m stronger on the hills. On the other hand, Bracht is very smart and technical, and he knows this island so well. He’s a very fast triathlete on the run too,” he affirms.
Raña also reminds us that the marathon is also his strength, but feels that he should also “save enough energy” for the run, “without going too hard in trying to keep up with Frodeno either, so I will have to control my pace a lot.”
Finally, Raña, who first trained at Club La Santa 20 years ago, affirms that “Lanzarote is the perfect European winter training destination, the climate is ideal and the winds makes you stronger.”
In the women’s camp, Riesler admits that she was “really scared” before her victory last year because it’s “such a hard course.”
“As the race went on, things got smoother and I started to enjoy it, and when I got into transition after the bike I had a 20-minute lead. The level is high this year but I know what it’s all about now and I’m sure I’ll be ready,” concludes the German triathlete.
For her part, Saleta Castro, who stopped at kilometre 15 in last weekend’s IRONMAN Texas, needs to reach the podium in Lanzarote to classify for Hawaii.
“Only the podium will do in Lanzarote, so I prefer to focus on the fact that I’m going do my IRONMAN, where I started and which will be my tenth finish, five of them on this island. I just want to enjoy it and do well as I’ve been training very hard for months. I believe that, at some point I’ve got to win this race and I hope it will be on a special edition, as is the 25th anniversary,” she confesses.
“I decided to stop in Texas because I had a clear objective to finish in the top seven to guarantee a place in Hawaii. Looking back with a cool head, if I had continued, I might have done it, but during the race I didn’t believe it and I knew I had another opportunity in Lanzarote,” she remembers.
Looking forward to Saturday, Castro hopes “that it’s really windy and that it doesn’t rain. And very hot on the Marathon.”
“On the whole, I know I’ll be racing on familiar home ground, I could do this course even with my eyes closed. I’m in really good shape, although tired from the trip home from America. I have my work cut out for me and I hope it pays off,” she tells us.
The 2015 edition of this event saw Italian Alessandro Degasperi (08:46:59) and German Diana Riesler (9:56:03) made their mark in a competition that offers 2000 qualifying points for the world ranking and 40 slots for the World Championship in Kona (Hawaii).
Our Pro athletes take on the battle to engrave their name on this 2016 edition of the Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote and, why not, try to beat the course record held by Timo Bracht, a time of 8 hours, 30 minutes and 34 seconds in 2011, and Zimbabwe’s Paula Newby-Fraser, who sealed the record in 9 hours, 24 minutes and 34 seconds in 1995.