Sportsworld’s finest descended upon the remote and idyllic setting of La Santa to compete in the 2010 challenge. As the bus winded along the back roads of the island and the huge complex emerged on the skyline, the hairs stood on the back of your neck if not for the four days of feisty competition then at least for the sunshine and gelato. The boys and girls located to their quarters for the week as follows:

The Boot Room – Michael (Sweet Tooth) Cunningham, Paul (Federer) Duffy, Will (Prodigal) Greensmyth and Phil (Suggs) Kilgannon

The Shoes Room – Rachel, Susan, Mary, Mairead and Caitriona

The Activity Room – Emily, Eilis, Breda, Val, Orlagh and Cliona

The Pipe n Slippers Room – Sean and Conor

The Family Room – Declan, Kathleen and Mr. O’Callaghan.

The Green Team Room – Destination Unknown

Well the week started as it meant to continue. Karaoke was kicked off by… yep myself, with a polished, crooner – style rendition of ‘It must be Love’ by Madness. After the standing ovation gradually subsided Will and myself then gave a stirring performance of the timeless ‘Wish you were here’ by Pink Floyd, dedicated to Eoiny Fellony who couldn’t be with us this time. In fairness it was a hard act to follow but Val and Cliona gave it their best and tore into’ Paradise City’, by Guns n Roses. Val eventually put down the microphone when the barman was finished sweeping the floor and turned off the lights.

I decided to just undertake the first two days as I wanted to focus on my crazy golf, with Conor and Sean taking a similiar course of action as the all day bingo was too good to resist. Breda didn’t compete either through injury and well she’s won enough things already. Paul dutifully took out the 10k, taking on pacemaking duties unnecessarily and loosing time overall as a result, but must have made an impression on the Danes. He was singled out for special treatment and before the ridge run had even got as far as the road a big lad (Thor or something like that) knocked him to the ground. Well, they build them tough down in Delvin and this only served to ignite Paul’s challenge. He bounced back up and himself and myself pulled back a few places and then ran a great race together, catching ground up the hills and then breaking the Danes on the downhill descent. Paul powered home to take fifth on the day. Michael ran steadily the first three days, in 22nd place with the half marathon to come. Willo struggled on the first day, a little under the weather (and homesick). He soldiered through the next two days though with lots of chicken soup and hugs. Will was in 88th at this point but like the Munster Man that he is was getting stronger as the week went on. Then the gauntlet was really thrown down. Breda offered Will sweets if he could finish 75th overall. This sounded unfeasable, I mean 13 places in one race – but with the flicker in Will’s eye, we knew it was on. Well back in the boot room on Tuesday night we had much to ponder. Paul was in the top ten but wanted to push up the board, Michael wanted to crack into the top 20 and Will wanted…sweets. There was much soul searching and head scratching over cups of tea and fig rolls, but on Wednesday it was the Irish who plundered and the Danes who floundered as each man pulled back in the region of 3 minutes on the half marathon and each personal target was obtained. Paul came 6th, Michael 17th and Will, yes 75th. Declan runs for Crusaders so was running for Sportsworld on the QT, so I won’t mention that he relished the chance to run in the Red strip again, storming to 31st overall. Declan there’s always a spot on the cross team for ya;)

The girls blazed a trail,, winning second team, with four in the top ten finishers. Mary was fifth overall, looking composed and effortless throughout. Kathleen was not far behind with a brilliant 7th after overcoming considerable hamstring problems recently. Mairead was eighth, also winning her age group. Rachel showed her class, finishing the week strongly to claim tenth. Susan ran consistently through the week, finishing a strong 13th. Orlagh, who had spent most of the past two years on the foam roller produced a fantastic week of running to come home in twelfth. We were all delighted to see her back running so well. Catriona debuted in La Santa this year, finishing in 27th – a great finish with which she must be delighted. Cliona also completed the challenge, a highly impressive achievement of a little training. She finished in 65th, leaving plenty of runners in her wake. There was also debate and conjecture heard coming from the Shoes Room, where the girls were heard to remark that the senior team was looking a bit ‘light weight’.

Well that was it bar the shouting. There was an epic tennis match with Breda, Michael, Will and myself playing like a sketch from a Marx Brothers film. Paul was a studious umpire and ball boy. Think Father Ted meets Wimbledon. There was the perennial dancefest Wednesday night, where Will and myself found a soul mate on the dance floor in Eilis and we danced the night away. Val was a force of nature, still going strong at 6am. Eilis was not having this and stormed down to the disco in her PJ’s, with hair curlers still in, frog-marching Val and Mark back to the room. Val was grounded on thrursday, but after judicial review was allowed out for the final banquet/barbeque. We reminisced on a great week, which went by far too fast and contemplated arriving home to the snow and the IMF with trepidation. But hey, we’ll always have Lanzorote.