Race Report by Martin Judge
Mary and I flew into a hot Lanzarote on Thursday 8 December and we both soon realised it was draining simply walking in the heat: on the Saturday I was going to be running a marathon in it! Our hotel was the Sands Beach which doubled as the race headquarters with the start and finish conveniently outside the front entrance. We couldn’t have picked a better location. There was a great atmosphere in the hotel with competitors from all over the globe using it as their base. I recall trying to talk Spanish to a wheel chair athlete for about 5 minutes before he explained to me he was Russian! Oh well, we all make mistakes!
We woke just before 7am on the Saturday to a stunning sunrise which blazed in on our hotel apartment. Quite brilliant but it was already producing a 20C+ temperature and I should have realised then it was going to be tough. I had planned for a 3:35 time and I should have known then this time was hopelessly unrealistic under the conditions. At 7.50 am I left for the start where I met Linda Richards from Northbrook. Linda said she was hoping for about 5 hours but would be quite happy just to “survive” the race. After the obligatory photo we lined up and a few minutes after the wheel chair athletes set off, we set off, too.
There were no timing paddocks so the runners of different abilities were all mixed up at the start and it was a bit chaotic for the first kilometre. I eventually found the 3.45 pacer and decided to run along with his group for the first 10K or so. I was relaxed in my running but just found it more demanding than planned. It was only after the race I discovered the first 10K of this “flat” course was quite undulating with a number of short, sharp rises. It was a bit like the Coventry Park Run, deceptively demanding. And of course, as the minutes ticked away, it became warmer and warmer.
We had been promised isotonic drinks every 5K but these isotonic drinks turned out to be Coca-Cola. I’m afraid I made my displeasure of this quite vocal when first offered Coca-Cola. This minor outburst brought me into conversation with a Belgian runner who shared my opinion. He turned out to be a male nurse and for a few kilometres he told me all about the problems of the Belgian Health Service. It seems it’s not just the NHS that has problems. I then met up with two Yorkshire runners who had been in India the previous week when large denomination bank notes were taken out of circulation. They described the panicked reaction of the Indian public to this action. As usual it seems the poorest sections of Indian society were affected the worst.
I then met up with two Irish runners from Tipperary. I said: “….it’s a long way to Tipperary…” They replied I was the first person who had ever said that to them….. and for a minute I almost believed them!
After about 12K of running the conversations faded. The heat and hills were taking their toll and I reluctantly decided to alter my finishing time to 3.45 hours. Approaching the half-way turn around point I decided to alter this time to 3.50 hours and at the half-way point I altered it again to 4.00hrs. A little over a mile later I decided it was a simply a case of just finishing and then around 25K I came to a halt. My upper body and breathing were fine but my legs were just spent. Had I not recovered from the Stratford cross-country the week before? I don’t know. I just spent the next 9-10 miles jogging and walking in the heat till I mercifully got to the finish. It was about 25/26C at street level so I was drinking everything that was offered me towards the end, even the dreaded Coca-Cola. I did eventually finish after 4hrs 13mins of toil and was rewarded with a large medal and an ice cream. My God it was tough but crazily, I enjoyed it. Yes, there were some organisational failings but it was a fantastic party atmosphere which everyone enjoyed. The Irish contingent was very successful winning the men’s, women’s and wheel-chair races. They didn’t stop celebrating till 5 am the next day. It sometimes seemed Mary and I carried on celebrating the whole of the week!
There was a half-marathon, 10K and 5K races ran in conjunction with the marathon race for those that didn’t want to do the full 42.2K. So if you asked me would I go again I’d say, yes. Would I run the marathon again? Yes. Would I recommend it fellow Massey Runners? Yes, yes, yes.
A wonderful occasion, a wonderful week, which I hope to share with lots of you, this time, next year, in Lanzarote.
Position 240 – 04:13:19 – Martin Judge