Dispatch from La Santa – the view from the sideline of the road.

This is a small taster from someone who didn’t actually manage to run the races (i.e. Garrett) intersected with some juicier inside track perspective from one of the runners (i.e… Gareth). As is tradition the latter part is written on the flight home. It sure beats feeling sorry for yourself.

With one or two days left to go in La Santa, the trip can already be deemed another triumph. As always Emily is central to everything and is rightly seen as royalty by the natives here, who honour her by sacrificing their goats (‘ milk) and entertain her with great feats of running four races in four days.

Some highlights that come to mind, are bulleted below.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of the La Santa trip, it’s basically a 10ish km road race, a 13ish km running up-and-down volcano race, a 5ish km beach race and a 20kmish “half marathon” in four consecutive days.

Lanzarote is incredibly windy. When added to the warm weather and terrain the races can be challenging. Rivalries build up over the years so the series can be as much about your place as accumulated time.

Each race is preceded and followed by a cocktail of cycling, swimming (lagoon and pool), watersports, scuba-diving (Martina), aqua-jogging (me), stretch-and-relaxing, gym sessions, record-beating plunge pool dips, beer, great food and cocktails! Run hard play hard is certainly the mantra here. Anyway, those highlights…

The ladies’ team won the overall competition, featuring  Shona (who was also 3rd overall lady), Maura “If you come at the king, you best not miss” McGinty (winner of her age category), Ruth and Dee.

The men’s team came third (behind Crusaders in second and the Milton Buzzards), with Conor Keating (age-category winner), Conor Cavanagh, Gareth and the ever-elite Paul Fleming.

Anthony, spurred on by brother and special-guest Sportsworlder Martin, dominated his age-category from start to finish, earning himself the illustrious €15 voucher for the sports shop, which should cover at least one sock.

Garrett (2-TS ) won the inaugural La Santa Go-Karting Grand Prix, surviving a steward’s enquiry for what was deemed a “strong but fair” overtaking manoevre on lap 5 that resulted in Ruth being spun off), and holding off strong challenges from Dave Saunders and Ruth, who could otherwise console themselves with logging the fastest and second-fastest lap times of the day.

Paul O’Beirne had a delightful cameo in the two races he was here for, finishing top-10 in both. Despite pulling out of the Ridge Race with arch issues, Conor Keating underwent a miraculous recovery (with the help of Emily’s wonder-taping and a cocktail of hard-boiled eggs) to finish first Sportsworlder in the next two races (including banging out a 5-minute mile finish on the quicksand of Puerto del Carmen in the 5-ish k).

Most nights on the trip the group will eat together. It’s always a great experience to chat about what’s going on in people’s lives.  A table with  Emily is always a great laugh down memory lane of trips down memory lane.

I’ve missed loads here, so it’s over to Gareth to deliver the main course and just desserts.

Some people may have been having a tough time before coming  due to injury, work or other stresses but  there’s no tonic like a November week in the sun to refresh the batteries.

Like the cross country season, the Lanzarote week helps bring a sense of togetherness to the club.  Great friendships are forged, that last.

2009 was my first challenge at the age of 28. This year it was great to see the younger duo (Conor C and Conor K) pulling hard and leading the way in every race. Neil, Adam and Martin taking up the challenge for the first time was also an impressive sight.  Jose and  Garrett whilst not able to run were incredible support.

As mentioned by double T, the ladies cleaned up.  A strong team lead by the Limerick Marathon flier Shona Keane lit the stage at the Wednesday night awards. The only thing better than their style being their running. Well done Ruth, Deirde, Shona and Ginty.

Having met Ruth at Lanza 2009 and Maura / Shona in 2012  it’s great to see them now outperforming their younger running selves. Trip newbies Martha, Kimbereley and Olive  were great craic and able dancers in the nightclub.

If you can get away (sorry teachers) this is one of the best holidays you’ll have all year. The time slips away like a fine bottle of wine (Lanzarote Sauvignon Blanc).

I ahven’t mentioned much about the running but if you want the low down you can read my 2019 report link below. This year was all about enjoying the experience, recharging the body for a strong season in 2023.

Personally I wanted to thanks Emily for being the best person year in year out. Ronan was a gent with his car service saving me when my bike pedal broke, Dee for fund raising, Elaine Kennedy for her annual 20K pep talk (WhatsApp) and Padraig Looby for keeping in touch a lot (any scandal yet ?). Michael Cunningham was missed, particularly for the ice cream rounds. Most thanks to of all my house mates Adamskey, DeeDee, Keanos and Ginty. You couldn’t ask for a better bunch.

My advice would be to chat with Emily and get your name down for next year, places fill up fast.  I’ll keep going until I’ve done 15 in a row and then asses the situation. Hope to see you there.