I’m writing this on the plane back to a cold and wet Dublin. After 4 races already this week, tomorrow will be my 5th. I dont think I’ll get any sympathy having spent the past week in a sunny Lanzarote.

For those that aren’t familiar with the trip to Lanzars, each year around 20 runners represent the club in Lanzarote in the international running challenge. Four races take place over 4 days. In previous years our main challenge has come from the mighty Danes but in recent years a strong Irish contingent has made the trip. In particular this year there was some really strong runners from SBR, Crusaders and Tullamore. This years race series was the 25th year. Amazingly Emily has attended for 20 years.

Day 1 started with the Vince Regan 10K road race. The course isn’t easy on a calm day but much like last year we were met with gale force winds on the 2 lap course. After one lap every runner was in bits and we’ll down on their target pace. This race builds character if nothing else. It can only get easier from here.

Day 2 is on the ridge. the legs feel a little better after the travel. Like the first day this race starts and ends on the track in La Santa. The first 7k gets you to the top of the ridge with its spectacular views. The trip up this year was calm but warm. With the wind at our backs we knew the work would all be on the way down.

You have to be fit to do well on this one. If you go too fast you could end up walking to the top or start loosing places on the way back down. When we hit the top there was around 1k of flat recovery and then it’s downhill all the way home. This year even with a strong lean the wind was blowing us back up the mountain. Getting back down was possibly harder than going up.

Day 3 started early with a bus trip to Porte del Carmen. The race here takes place on the same beach each year. You hope and prey that the sand will be hard packed and easy underfoot, but more often than not there are long stretches of soft sand which makes for difficult runnig. The 5k is one of those races that hurts from the start but you recover quickly from.

Day 4 is the 1/2 marathon. At 9 am you get dropped off on the edges of Timanfya national park and have to make your own way back to the track in La Santa. The first 8k is a mix of road, rails and some big hills. At 9k they throw in a near vertical hill that turns man to mouse but once you hit the top it’s time to turn on after burners on. You run downhill through a number of local villages and eventually see La Santa off in the distance. This years half was one of the toughest ever, not because of the course but because of the energy shaping cross winds and sand storms.

There is a real sense of urgency on the last hill just outside La Santa and then once again on the back straight to make up those final few seconds. Then there is the final fall over the line and smug satisfaction that you gave it 110%. It’s hard to judge your times from one year to the next but this year was surely the most challenging in quite a few years.

The club performed really well this year. The men’s A team had a job to do in the half marathon and went out hard to hold of Crusaders and the Danes. We took gold by 8 minutes overall. Our women’s A team came in second place behind a very strong crusaders team but without all of our top runners race fit and recovered from the marathon, it won’t be repeated next year. Catarina and Maura spent every waking hour in the  gym in preparation for next year.  Hopefully they will be back running soon.

Loads of the club members ran out of their skins to take top positions in their age categories. Full results with some great photos from Anna Delaney below. For anyone who hasn’t been on the trip before I can’t recommend it enough. There aren’t many races in Ireland that generate the same adrenaline rush as flying though a small village in Lanzarote at break neck speed. As usual we had great support from all those that weren’t running including Emily and Myles. Bring on next year.

There is also a great write up on the Crusaders website