Rowe Running

Ironman Lanzarote 2013

By on david triathlon

On 23rd May 2012 (yes, a year ago) I paid my 418 euros (yes, it’s not cheap!) to enter the Ironman Lanzarote triathlon - a 2.4 mile sea swim, 112 mile (hilly and windy) bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon just to finish the race (and all the racers) off! Ironman races sell out a long time in advance so you need to get your entries in early. This also gives you a great incentive to train hard during the dark winter months - especially for an early season race.

The event is described on the website as follows…

IRONMAN Lanzarote Canarias, located on the northern edge of the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, offers you the ultimate challenge, and is considered by many to be one of the toughest IRONMAN events in the world.

Start, finish and transitions are located in Puerto del Carmen in the southern part of the island. The tourist center offers a unique ambience and a spectacular setting for this well-established race.

The course is designed to reflect the soul of Lanzarote, with a beautiful ocean swim in clear waters, offering amazing visibility. The hilly one-loop bike course, that takes you around the whole island, allows athletes to get a true feel of the Lanzarote environment and is an amazing experience. The run course is flat, warm and windy out and back, located within the city of Puerto del Carmen.

Training for the race took a huge hit at the back end of last year when I fractured/broke a rib (or two, or three - I have no idea how many!) in September whilst windsurfing. I did absolutely no training (other than some light walking) for around 10 weeks and started to train again gently at the start of December. This gave me a few months to get back to fitness and build up to the race. This was far from ideal - especially as I put on a stone in weight during the time that I wasn’t training. For a hilly race (Lanzarote is well regarded as one of the toughest bike courses on the Ironman circuit) I’d rather not be carrying too much extra weight. The mission for the lead up to the race was to get fit (again) and shed a few pounds.

Slowly but surely I started to build up time in the saddle and also my running. Swim training (my least favourite part of triathlon) needed a bit of a kick so I joined a local swimming squad - which got me into the pool a little more than I’d do on my own. Having said that, I’ve swum 20 times this year and completed a single swim of 3.8km (a couple of weeks ago). Must try better….

My immediate lead up to the race started with the London Marathon four weeks out, followed by an Olympic distance triathlon a week later. Two weeks out I ran a half marathon (and smashed my previous personal best) and then a week later we headed to Lanzarote for the race. I was feeling confident in both running and cycling and doing a full distance swim in the local pool really helped.

Race Week

We arrived on Tuesday and we were staying in a fantastic apartment complex in Puerto del Carmen - where the race is based. The apartment was less than five minutes walk to the race start but was also away from the ‘strip’ thus making it really quiet. Perfect. There were a few other ‘pirates’ (the triathlon ‘team’ that I race with) staying in the same place and it was great to catch up and share a few beers with old friends. I also made friends with some ‘normal’ holidaymakers in the apartments that were next to ours - two couples from Edinburgh. They often asked me about my training and how I was hoping to do on the day. They told me they’d look out for me on the day and give me a cheer.

On Wednesday we headed to the beach for a single lap swim of the two lap swim course (1.2 miles). The sea was beautiful - really calm and fish swimming all around you. It was great. A little later after getting the bike rebuilt three of us headed out for an easy ride (only about 30 minutes or so) to check out the first few miles of the race route. I’ve ridden pretty much every inch of the 112 mile course before apart from the miles in and out of Puerto del Carmen and I really wanted to get a feel for what the course was like at the start and end of the bike route. Wednesday afternoon we headed over to Club La Santa on the other side of the island to register for the race.

Part of the registration process involves signing a ‘Waiver of Liability and Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement.’ This is part of the two page document…

I HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE AND ASSUME ALL OF THE RISKS OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS EVENT. I acknowledge running, bicycling, swimming, and/or other portions of this Event are inherently dangerous and are an extreme test of my physical and mental limits that carries with them the potential for serious bodily injury, permanent disability, paralysis and death, and property damage or loss.

It all sounded good to me so I signed my name and was given my race number and a goodie bag!

Thursday morning and I was back down at the beach for another swim and this time I decided to give it a push at around my planned race pace. I swam a lap in around 32:30 which I was really happy with. If I could get close to this for two laps on Saturday (with all the agro that a mass swim start has and also no doubt swimming a not so perfect racing line) that would be perfect. I said to Sharon that if I was out of the water in under 70 minutes that would be fine by me. Later on I headed out on the bike to ride a bit more of the course. I did a few of the early miles again and then looped back to ride the last five miles back to the finish. This was great as I could get a feel for the well talked about ‘donkey track’ road with all of its twists and turns. I learnt that I could push hard pretty much the whole way down to the main road at the bottom rather than hovering on the brakes all the time wondering what was around each corner. Thursday evening was time for the pasta party back at Club La Santa and we feasted on a fantastic buffet meal. Carbo loaded to the extreme topped off with some ice cream. Perfect.

Ready to rock. Ready to rock.

Double (and triple checking) transition bags. Double (and triple checking) transition bags.

Friday I was back at the beach and just had a little swim of only a few hundred metres or so. I didn’t want to do much more than that. I then did a final test of the bike and then went for a two mile easy run to get a feel for pace. I then got the bike ready (i.e., loading it up with energy gels), packed my transition bags and took it all down to the transition area to get my bike racked for the race on Saturday. Feet up and pasta for dinner followed by an early-ish night.

Race Day

A 4:30am alarm (the race starts at 7am) and I was up with the kettle boiling for coffee and a big bowl of porridge cooking in the pan. After breakfast Sharon and I headed down to transition in the dark and I did a final check on the bike - getting the cycle computer on the bike and filling up my drinks bottles. I also put a little extra air in my tyres (which were new for race week) and retraced my steps back and forth to make sure I knew where to find my bike when I came out of the swim.

5:21am. Race morning. Race starts at 7am. 5:21am. Race morning. Race starts at 7am.

We then returned to the apartment, relaxed a little and then at about 6:15am I got partly into my wetsuit and we casually strolled back down to the beach. It was fantastic being so close to the start as I didn’t have to queue up for any portaloos or struggle on the floor trying to get my wetsuit on. It was so easy and relaxed.

As I headed to the beach I arranged to meet Sharon near where I was planning to start (it’s a beach start with 1800 people running/walking to the water in an area about 10 metres wide) which was going to be a little way back (in a self-seeded area for 65 minute swimmers) and on the right (hopefully away from the ruff’n’tumble of the mass start - especially after the beating I got at the Volcano Triathlon three weeks before).

9 minutes before the start and the final adjustments being made. 9 minutes before the start and the final adjustments being made.

But… I couldn’t find Sharon. It was 6:40am and I wanted to get in a start position not too far back and also have her help me with my wetsuit zipping up and to take the backpack that I was carrying. At this point it started raining, pretty heavily. I was getting a little worried and there was no sign of her. After looking up and down the beach area I quickly headed back to where the swim/bike bags were and stuck my bag and coat in there and rushed back to the start with an energy gel, drink, goggles and swim cap. Next thing I saw Sharon (she’d ended up in the wrong spot trying to find me) but everything was good. It was 6:50am and I was lined up and ready to go.

The final minutes in the countdown to an Ironman are something special. You’re standing there with around 1800 other people. We all look pretty anonymous in black wetsuits, orange (and a few pink for the women) swimcaps and goggles. Some are professional triathletes trying to make a living from the sport. Some or racing to qualify for the world championships in Hawaii, others are doing it just for fun, some (like myself) are there to push hard and do the best they can and others just want to get to the finish in one piece before the 17 hour time limit. Yes, 17 hours! It can be a very long day.

5 minutes to go. Ready as I'll ever be. 5 minutes to go. Ready as I’ll ever be.


After a few announcements and a huge round of applause there was a countdown and the race was on. I knew it would take a little while to get to the water and it too me about 45 seconds before my feet got wet. My plan was to head to the right side of the ‘race course’ and try and avoid too much trouble. I would then move into busier water hopefully at my own pace and under my own control. Well… it pretty much worked to plan. I found myself in busy water but not overly busy. There were times when it was hectic and all you could see where bubbles and bodies in the water and a few little clips of arms and feet but for the most part I avoided any real trouble. I didn’t have any sort of panic attacks like I had three weeks before and the first lap of the swim went pretty well, although no doubt I swam a fair bit further trying to get a clearer swim.

Swim Start - Ironman Lanzarote 2013. Swim Start - Ironman Lanzarote 2013.

Swim Start - Ironman Lanzarote 2013. Swim Start - Ironman Lanzarote 2013.

This shows the 'far' end of the swim course during the first lap of the swim.  It is just under 850m back to the turnaround.  The swim is swum anticlockwise. This shows the ‘far’ end of the swim course during the first lap of the swim. It is just under 850m back to the turnaround. The swim is swum anticlockwise.

At the end of the first lap you swim back to the shore, run about 5 metres up the beach, turn round and head back in for the second lap. As I ran up the beach I saw the time on the clock was 32:05. Great. Especially when probably about a minute of that at the start wasn’t even swimming. If I could do that (or something similar) again it would be perfect.

The second lap was busier with a little more body contact. This didn’t bother me though as I was relaxed and warmed up. I found myself close to the rope course markers and sighted pretty well to swim (what I believe to be) a fairly good straight course.

When I came out of the water I had swum my second loop in 32:30. A total swim time of 1:04:35. Comparing that to my swim at the Outlaw triathlon last year (1:04:56) I was very happy that I’ve kept up a similar level of swim fitness and this time around I didn’t have a good pair of feet to draft off of for most of the swim.

Swim exit. Swim exit.

A number of people (about 13) didn’t finish the swim within the 2 hours 20 minute cut-off time or retired early. One poor chap retired after about 15 minutes after a panic attack in the water.

  • Swim time: 1:04:35
  • Overall swim position: 321st (out of 1759 swim finishers)
  • Division (M40-44) swim position: 67th (out of 350 swim finishers)

Transition 1

Transitions in Lanzarote are pretty slow. You run up the sandy beach (there’s matting out but it’s still sandy), find your bike bag and then go into a changing tent. I took my wetsuit off, put my bike helmet on, had an energy gel, got some suncream put on my by a lovely volunteer and headed back up a steep slope to the bike racking area (which is huge!). Once you leave the beach area there was a bucket of water which I stuck my feet in to get the sand off and then I ran to my bike. I got my shoes and socks on (I don’t do any elegant flying bike mounts where my shoes are already attached) and headed to the bike mount line. Jumped on the bike and headed off along the seafront road. A huge cheer from the pirate support crew set me off on my way for a long bike ride…

Transition 1 time was 5:27. I know I could make this quicker. Putting on arm covers/warmers on wet arms I didn’t do well (I did it well in Wanaka last year but not today) and I could have left my shoes on my bike and just got them there rather than run with them from the beach.

The fastest transition on the day was 2:47 by Stephen Bayliss (UK). Wow. The slowest transition was over 26 minutes!

  • T1 time: 5:27
  • Overall T1 position: 288th (out of all T1’s during the race)

After transition one I had moved up to 287th (from 321st) and was now (55th in my age group, from 67th) so I’d moved up a fair bit just by being ‘fairly’ efficient.


At this point it was still raining, the roads were wet and there were lots of cyclists around me. All I wanted to do was get going steadily, avoid other cyclists and get into a good rhythm. I use a power meter in training and in previous races my average power has slowly dropped at the race goes on as I’m unable to keep up with what I had planned to do. My recent training had been good (with some of it riding on the same hills in similar weather) and I felt strong so this time planned to push slightly harder than I have done in previous races and hope that my fitness will allow me to keep on pushing for the 112 miles.


The first 30 or so miles were really quite busy. There was lots of overtaking going on. Often on the hills I would sit there and watch people slowly stream past me - many of them out of the saddle and pushing pretty hard. I was pushing slightly harder than I planned to over the whole ride (which is fine), because with the downhill segments where I wouldn’t be pushing as hard the idea would be that things should even out a bit. I hoped that these people who were flying past me would be ones who I’d see again in the latter stages of the bike leg of the race. The rain had stopped, the clouds were intermittent, the wind was blowing (as it always does here) and it was awesome to be racing such an iconic and difficult event. Every now and then it hits home what you’re currently doing. Some ridiculous distance event - just because you can (or at least hope you can)!

Weather wise the rain had stopped and it was sunshine and a few clouds. The usual Lanzarote winds were blowing but I didn’t have any problems at all with crosswinds. I’d ridden in much worse conditions on the same roads a few weeks back. This was alright today (although it does seem that bike times were generally slower across the board).

The scenery on this course is amazing. Lava fields aplenty in the El Golfo and Timanfaya region. The stunning beach area of Famara, the town of Teguise with some superb support and then the long climb up to Mirado del Haria. This climb is pretty much around 14 miles long with an average incline of 2.4% and took just over an hour. Once you get to the top you then have a fast descent around some crazy Tour de France-esque switchback turns to the well supported town of Haria. Great crowds filled the little area around the cafes in the town (three weeks ago I stopped here for a drink and a bite to eat - none of that today!). It was lovely - apart from knowing that you’ve got to climb up to the Mirador del Rio straight afterwards which is another 4.5 miles at around 3% average. Nothing is too steep - it just drags on a bit!

Towards the top of the Mirador del Rio. Towards the top of the Mirador del Rio.

The view near the top of the island at Mirador del Rio is stunning. Turquise blue seas down below surround the Isle Graciosa and although the climb just keeps going I knew that once I turned right at the top it was time for some fun! After a little bit of bad road to start it then gets interesting. This is pretty much a seven mile descent from 1500 feet down to almost sea level. I knew the road pretty well having ridden it a few times in recent weeks when I was here training at the end of April. I knew which corners I needed to slow for and which ones I could race round. As well as knowing how I wanted to ride the descent you also have to take into account the conditions around you and the other cyclists. Nobody came past me on this descent and I just sailed past other riders. My confidence was high and I just had to be really careful when overtaking. On one left hander I saw an ambulance and a chap in a ditch (no sign of his bike) being treated. Post race I found out that some competitors suffered broken bones (legs, arms, ribs) during the race and two people were kept in hospital overnight.

One guy in front of me at one point during the descent threw an empty water bottle from his bike - it then bounced off a rock at the side of the road, flew back into the middle and just missed another cyclist. I’d say it was a second either side of what would most certainly have been quite a nasty accident. It doesn’t bear thinking about. This is what worries me (and Sharon) the most - the actions of other people. I’m confident in my ability and feel that I ride safely, but as for some of the other people out there… On top of that, it’s clearly printed in the rules that if you are seen littering on the course (outside of an aid station) you are instantly disqualified. There were empty gel wrappers all over the course. Some people are just f**king selfish. It’s really annoying.

Anyway, back to the descent… The seven miles took just under 12 minutes and my bike computer had me averaging 34.9 miles per hour with a maximum of 47.8 mph! Sweet.

After the descent you then have about another 12 miles of time trial riding with a tail wind to Tahiche. This is at around 80 miles into the race and I was still feeling strong. I kept my power up and still kept overtaking people. One guy came past me and we stuck fairly close together for a few miles. He must have been feeling as good as I was at this point.

Coming into Tahiche there’s a sharp right turn at a roundabout and you’re straight into an uphill headwind. I knew this was coming (thankfully) so was ready as soon as we turned the corner. This is a tough part of the course as you head up for about two miles before turning into the dreaded Nazaret road. This road has probably the worst road surface that you could ever ride a bike on. This was the one road on the course that the race director said you could ride on either side - just to try and find a safe route through. This section is two miles long and it’s bone shattering. You’d never choose to ride on a road like this - not least on an expensive bike. Today we had no choice. There were water bottles strewn all over the road which had been shaken out of the bottle cages. I also saw an expensive carbon water bottle saddle mounting system thingy on the road as well. I tell you, this road is horrible. The technique I chose was to push hard and get to the end as quickly as possible.

In previous Ironman races at about 90 miles I’ve been desperate for the bike leg to finish and to get running. Today was different. I was still strong, I wasn’t falling apart and was loving it.

You then head onto a main road back in the middle of the island and you’re well and truly heading home now. A few more miles before you turn off, head up another hill (Lanzarote certainly knows how to do hills well!) and then head back to Puerto del Carmen for the the most part a nine mile descent.

I was really looking forward to the ‘donkey track’ road - as this meant we were close to the finish and also because is a great little descent. There were about four or five other riders close by all riding well and racing to the bottom. It was great fun.

Bike finish. Time to run a marathon. Bike finish. Time to run a marathon.

Not long after this descent you’re heading back to town and the transition to the run. At my computer beeped at six hours (of cycling) I had another gel and cycled towards transition - once again getting huge support from Sharon and the other pirate supporters. Just before transition I rode past UK pro athlete Philip Graves who was on the run leg and heading back to the turnaround. I gave him a shout and pushed onto transition. I wasn’t exhausted (good job really!) and was getting ready to run.

Not at one moment did I feel like I didn’t have enough energy to keep up my desired effort on the bike, or was bored or wanting to get off of the bike. I’d have been happy to ride further. I really did enjoy the ride.

  • Bike time: 6:04:13
  • Overall bike position: 272nd (at this point in the race)
  • Division (M40-44) bike position: 49th (at this point in the race)
  • Time so far: 7:14:15

At this point I’d moved up 15 places up to 272nd overall and in my age group had moved up six places to 49th. Slowly moving up the field. Will it continue…?

For those wondering, nutrition on the bike was simple - every 20 minutes my bike computer beeped at me. This meant energy gel time! I had one every 20 minutes and washed it down with either a bit of water or some energy drink. I had energy drink on my bike the whole ride and kept a single bottle (between my handlebars) topped up and would sometimes have a little bit of water in a bottle cage. In total on the bike I had 18 gels on the bike. With the pre-race gel and one in transition 1 that’s 20 gels so far! Lovely huh!

OK, for the number geeks out there my average power on the bike was 219 watts. This worked out to be a NP of 231 and a VI of 1.05.

Transition 2

The bike to run transition is equally long like the swim to bike one! You have to run for ages with your bike before someone takes it and racks it for you. You then run and grab you run bag, head to a tent and get ready. For me this was bike shoes and socks off, run socks, shoes and visor on and then off I went. I also had a small waist-bag thingy which had some suncream, gels and immodium tablets. This transition was much more efficient than T1.

Whilst running with my bike to the racking area I head some unbelievable screaming and shouting from one of the bars that runs alongside the transition area. It was our next door neighbours from the apartments screaming “Go on Pirate Man!” or similar. I looked up, shouted and waved at them. It was so funny. They were out having some afternoon drinks in a bar and I’d just ridden 112 miles. Love it.

  • T2 time: 4:21
  • Overall T2 position: 142nd (out of all T2’s during the race)
  • Time so far: 7:18:36

I was the 25th fastest M40-44 in T2. I gained 13 places in T2 but none against my age group. I started the run in 259th position overall and 49th in my age group.


Heading onto the run is a strange feeling. You’ve just swum 2.4 miles, ridden 112 and now you’re about to run a marathon. Yes, a full 26.2 mile marathon. That is one hell of a warm up for a marathon! This is when you hope that the nutrition strategy that you’ve being following for the past 7+ hours is going to put you in good stead for the next few hours running in the heat of the day. Only time will tell.

In the race rules for the event the following rule is explicitly given for the run:

No form of locomotion other than running, walking or crawling is allowed.

The run course is 42.2km and consists of 3 laps: first one of around 12 miles and then laps of about 7 miles each (on the same part of the first half of the first lap/loop).

As I ran past the pirates Sharon shouted that ‘Philip Graves is just ahead of you - stick with him’ (Philip Graves is a UK Pro triathlete who became the youngest ever Ironman winner when he won Ironman UK in 2009). I politely declined the suggestion and headed off at my own pace! Four weeks ago I ran the London Marathon in 3:26 and it felt comfortable. Running that pace after what I’d just done wouldn’t feel comfortable but I had in the back of my head that if I could run anywhere near 3 hours 30 that would be amazing. My plan was to go for 8 minute miling and just stick with it as long as possible. The first mile was 7:43 - OK, a little quick but that’s normal for me! Followed by 7:58, 7:56, 7:58, 8:09, 8:01, 7:58. All was going well. It wasn’t as comfortable as I’d like it to be but my heart rate was in a good place and I felt confident.

All smiles at the start of the run. All smiles at the start of the run.

The course is tough. It’s not really flat, it’s gently undulating. And there’s plenty of headwind! The surface is a mixture of tarmac and paving stones along a fairly busy seafront. For a fair bit of the course there’s restaurants and bars with people sat or stood outside and cheering you on. The only really quiet part (on the first large lap) goes past the airport - you’re literally about 10 metres away from the runway on a cycle/walking path just beside a rather high fence with the airport on one side and the sea on the other.

As is the norm in these longer distance races I was in the oh-so-flattering yellow and black ‘pirate’ kit and I really think this makes a difference. The kit has no writing on it, just a logo. Strangers give you loads of support and cheers. I’d liken it to wearing a running club vest at the London Marathon. The cheers you get are fairly regular but not all the time people shouting your name which (for me at least) would get tiring. Racing in pirate gear is great - and if you’ve got the energy to give a little ‘aarrrrgghhhh’ back to people (or children) they really get behind you. I have to say that the COLT triathlon club supporters were excellent on the course and really gave some good pirate support.

At the end of the first lap (about 12 miles) I had been averaging 8:02 miling. This was all good. I was running through the aid stations taking a combination of water/energy drink and also picked up a couple of large ice cubes at one point (which were lovely down my shorts!!). I felt alright and just wanted to do the same again over the two shorter laps. Well… that feeling didn’t last for long!

12 miles into the marathon and things are still going well. 12 miles into the marathon and things are still going well.

I was now on the shorter laps and at the far turnaround point (about 15.5 miles in) I was really starting to struggle. I said to myself that I’d complete this loop (3.5 miles back to the start/finish turnaround) and then on the final 7 mile loop walk the aid stations. Well, three and a half minutes (not miles, minutes!) later and I was walking. This wasn’t in the plan but my head was telling my legs that I needed to walk. The strategy at the aid stations was drink whatever I felt I could manage without having too much and then getting a large cup of water at the last ‘table’ and either pouring it over my head or just throwing it all over my face. Then start running again. And repeat.

19 miles in and its getting tough.  And salty! 19 miles in and its getting tough. And salty!

This continued to the start/finish turnaround point at about 19 miles. My average pace for the previous seven miles had dropped to 8:30 miling (because of the briskly walked aid stations and also my speed slowly falling apart). One of our friends said to Sharon that I was dripping in sweat. She pointed out that it was most likely just water just thrown over my head - that was exactly right.

At the start of the final lap I stopped for about five seconds to tell Sharon that it was ‘f***ing hard work’ - which was pretty much what I said to her halfway through the marathon at Challenge Wanaka in January 2012. Well… Ironman is not a knitting club!

Post race looking at the live newsfeed that was on the website I like this little snippet (posted a few hours after I finished the race but it does give you an idea of what we let ourselves in for)…

To recap, the people finishing now have been on the go for 15 hours. They started in pouring rain this morning and had to contend with very wet roads on the bikes. Then they climbed 8,000 feet into a testing headwind. By the time they got back to transition the sun was searingly hot as they began their run. As the sun went down, they dealt with running into it, and once it had gone, the temperature dropped dramatically. Lanzarote has once again served up a dramatic and fascinating race and has lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s toughest.

Heading back onto the final loop the course was really starting to get busy with other runners. Getting onto the run fairly early means lots of space but now it was getting busier as more and more people were coming in from the bike segment. Plenty of shouts of ‘Go Pirate’ along with a few other friends who were taking part really helped the miles tick away. The other thing that helped them tick by was knowing that I’d get a brief rest-bite at the next aid station and get to throw more water over me! There was a moment when I was running alongside Carl and Gareth from the Pirates - we were all on different laps of the run. There were three of us all together. It was great. Then bloody Gareth ran off. I just couldn’t keep up with him.

It was great to get to the final turnaround - at this point it was shortly before 5:30pm and the overall time was therefore 10 hours 30 minutes. 30 minutes to do the final 3.5 miles. Under normal circumstances that should be fine. This was not. I’d just run the previous 3.5 miles (from the start/finish to this point) in nearly 35 minutes. That’s 10 minute miling pace. Not what I had planned.

I was falling apart.

Heading back to Puerto del Carmen I chatted a little with a nice guy called John from Pulse tri club in Ireland. I then drifted a little ahead and found myself running with Anna S from Army Tri Association and Chris W from the COLT club. Both Chris and I were on our final miles to the finish. Anna said that I was on for ‘sub-11.’ I said no way. It just wasn’t going to happen. My head told me that. Because my body had decided that a few miles ago!

Chris pretty much said the same thing. ‘We’ve got 17 minutes to cover 3km. We can do this.’ For about 30 seconds I still believed that it wasn’t possible and then thought that I should do whatever I can over the last couple of miles. It didn’t matter. The finish was so close. Food, drink, warm clothes. Actually, the thought of not having to run another step was the main selling point for me.

Right, lets get this show on the road. I pushed on. I moved ahead of Chris and he said “Good running, stay strong” or something similar. I ran through the aid stations without getting anything. I went up and down kerbs to avoid other runners. I took the ‘racing line’ wherever possible. This is what they call zipping up your mansuit. Mine was done right up to the top!

Final push to the finish. Final push to the finish.

I saw Stefan H (who I sometimes run with at Bushy parkrun) running the other way towards me and he said ‘sub-11 is all yours.’ At this point it was well and truly back on and I said ‘yeah, it is!’ and got my head down. Shouts of ‘Go Pirate’ were responded to if at all by a bit of a grunt and perhaps a little thumbs up. Energy was best spent putting one leg in front of the other.

Next thing I’m getting closer to the line. The pirate support was of course amazing and I remember seeing the large flag/banner and Alan standing there raising his pint of beer to me! As I got to the finishing chute I waved my arm - showing my two coloured wristbands (that showed I had done my laps) and was let through. I looked up, saw the clock was reading almost 10 hours 57 so I eased off and enjoyed the moment. Sunglasses off (it’s all about the finish photo you know!) and I crossed the line.

Ironman Lanzarote Finisher 2013. Ironman Lanzarote Finisher 2013.

My marathon time was 3:38:26. This is an average of 8:20 miling. The final 3.5 miles I got back from 10 minutes miling to 8:34 miling. I’d call that a comeback.

  • Marathon time: 3:38:26
  • Ironman Lanzarote - 10 hours 57 minutes 2 seconds.

My marathon was the 215th quickest on the day. I run the 46th quickest marathon in my age group but as a number of the faster runners actually finished behind me (so were slower in the swim/bike) I moved further up the field.

The fastest marathon was run in 2:50:52. The male winner ran 2:55:03. The female winner ran 2:58:37 - outstanding. The slowest was 7:15:17.

With the final scores on the door I finished the race overall in 193rd place and was 35th in my age group. Here’s a graph showing how my position changed as the race progressed in both the overall standings and M40-44 age group. Most of the timing splits were on the run with no splits given for the bike other than start and finish time. I created this graph thanks to the excellent work that Russell Cox ( does for the (number obsessed) triathlon community - this time making available a spreadsheet of all splits from the race.


As soon as I crossed the line I was given my medal and then was met and had a photo with Kenneth Gasque, the race director (oh, and Ironman Hawaii finisher). He’s absolutely awesome. He was down on the beach helping people with wetsuits earlier in the week. I saw him wandering around the day before the race and he spent the entire afternoon/evening/night of race day meeting each of the finishers. Brilliant. He knows how to make a big event like this have a family feel.

Race director Kenneth Gasque greeting the finishers post race. Race director Kenneth Gasque greeting the finishers post race.

I got a bottle of water and walked towards the food/transition area. Sharon was the other side of the wire security fence beaming with joy. A bit like me to be honest. I dropped to the floor and sat down and had a chat for a few minutes.

I sat and chatted to Sharon through the fence for a while straight after finishing. I sat and chatted to Sharon through the fence for a while straight after finishing.

I then decided that I needed to get warm and drink something. One of the race volunteers helped me to my feet and I collected my bags, got changed and started eating and drinking. Eventually I felt well enough to leave the race area and join Sharon and one of the local restaurants - where I proceeded to eat half of her dinner and had another huge class of coke!

Dave and Frank from Edinburgh - some of my top supporters on the day. Dave and Frank from Edinburgh - some of my top supporters on the day.

Shortly afterwards I collected my bike, walked back to the apartment, cleaned myself up a bit and changed into some other clothes and then it was back down to ‘pirate support central’ at the ‘Route 66’ bar cheering in the other racers until gone midnight. I then bumped into my newly recruited supporters from Scotland and had a photo!

What a day. What a race.

This was by far the toughest Ironman race that I’ve done. The wind, hills and exposed nature of the run make it tough. But to cross that finish line makes it all worthwhile. In my fifth race over this distance it was my slowest time but the race I’m most proud of. I swam well, had a great ride and managed to salvage a decent marathon time when things were getting tough. Oh, and I didn’t have to visit any of the on-course portaloos! What a bonus.

As always the pirates both racing or supporting were great and it was lovely to get a group shot of almost all of us who raced Ironman Lanzarote 2013 in our finisher t-shirts.

Pirate finishers. Ironman Lanzarote 2013. Pirate finishers. Ironman Lanzarote 2013.

© David & Sharon Rowe - - email me