Ironman Lanzarote is, probably, the hardest triathlon in the world.
This is the category given to the Ironman Lanzarote whose first event was in 1992 with 148 participants.
This triathlon is a dramatic sporting event in its purest form.
More than 2000 ironmen and ironwomen begin at 7 am to swim 2.4 miles [3.8 km], ride 112 miles [180 km] on bicycle and end with a 26 mile [42 km] marathon on foot.
To get a better idea of the extent of the competition, the winner of the Ironman Lanzarote 2011 finished the brutal course in 8 hours and 59 minutes, but the average time is 12-13 hours.
Attending this show of human endurance can give you a real adrenalin rush.
The suffering that the sportsman goes through seems to be passed on to the audience who cheer him on, step by step, to reach the finishing line.
It is worth getting up early to go and watch the swimming contest on the Grande beach in Puerto del Carmen.
The 2000 athletes, wrapped up in their polyurethane coats that protect them from the cold ocean temperatures, warm up by hopping around while they wait for the gun shot to signal the start of the race. The first sprint to the shore and the way that they burst into the flat waters is a sight to see.
After the 2.4 mile swim [3.8 km], the athletes get on their bicycles.
They cycle around the island traveling from the South to the North and from the East to the West.
They pass by Salinas de Janubio, Timanfaya, La Geria, Teguise, Los Valles, Haría, Arrieta, Costa Teguise and then return back towards Puerto del Carmen.
It’s so nice to watch the cyclists’ silhouettes riding across the middle of these beautiful spots.
However, this can be the hardest part of the competition due to the constant wind in Lanzarote. The cheering from the people along the street helps give them extra motivation to persevere through the Ironman competition.
Those who finish the cycling part have to put their running shoes on and hit the road again.
The final marathon is kept for last with the little remaining strength that is left for endurance.
The volunteers provide constant hydration for these ironmen. The race takes place at the circuit between Costa Teguise and Puerto del Carmen, passing through Arrecife.
The 26 miles [42km] seem like an insurmountable obstacle, but the pain threshold seems to hold out.
It is not uncommon to watch one of these sportsmen lying on the ground suffering from a pulled muscle, doing some stretching exercises and then continuing on as if nothing had happened.
Nor is it strange to see them zigzagging along, to try and reach a provisions stand, then stop, drink some fluids, eat a few bananas and push on again.
What must go through their heads? How many times do they say to themselves “stop, you can’t go on any longer”? And what makes them continue as if nothing had happened and cross the finishing line?
Like everything else in life, the Ironman has an ending, and it’s always been a happy ending.
The last part is by foot and running around the noisy avenue in Puerto del Carmen turns into a unique tribute for each one of these giant men and women.
All those who have finished the 2.4 miles of swimming, the 112 miles of cycling and the 26 miles of running have agreed that, following a great many disasters, they get a new kind of adrenalin rush when they reach this point that gives their battered bodies one last push.
The smile painted on each chiseled face, the parents and children that accompany them on their last few steps, the open arms and kissing as they give themselves up at this momentous occasion…
If this isn’t pure happiness, what is? It must at least be something very similar to what these insanely dedicated people are feeling at that moment.