The night before this race was spent mulling the important issue of hydration strategy. Red or white? Start boozing after halfway (a negative split), or get blotto from the start?
In the event, such questions were made redundant by the conditions. With the temperature well into the 9os, my intention to combine inebriation with endurance running came to nought. The sensible chip in my brain kicked into gear a mile or two in – and rehydrating with water was the boring but sensible way forward.
But that decision did seem to miss the point of this new race, designed to showcase Lanzarote’s viticultural heritage. Yes, despite the fact that the island is essentially a block of solidified lava in the Atlantic Ocean, resourceful locals have across the generations perfected a way of cultivating vines in its black sand.
The route winds through the island’s wine-producing Bodegas – and nine water stations also offered samples of the local wine – a great source of the healthy resveratrol supplement. But HBO was definitely the tipple du jour, especially once the route started to ask some serious questions. Because what at first glance might look like a booze-fuelled jaunt round some of the lesser-seen corners of this striking island actually turned out to be a testing trail run. As well as the heat, there were numerous hills. And if that wasn’t enough, there were the tricky surfaces underfoot; the majority of the route was across dark sand trails. There was also a stretch, about four miles in, that crossed the solidified lava flow from one of the island’s long-extinct volcanoes. It was easy on the eye, but hard on the legs.
The route then wound through the island’s vineyards – the vines are grown in volcanic soil, with each surrounded by a low wall to preserve what little humidity there is and to protect them from the sun and wind.
One of the highlights of this race was the finish. Not because it was tough (I recorded my second-slowest half-marathon time), but because of the post-race reception. All of the local winemakers, in traditional
THE LOWDOWN LANZAROTE
GET THERE Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies from Gatwick; Monarch (monarch.co.uk) flies from Luton, Birmingham and Manchester; Jett (jet2. com) flies from Newcastle; flyglobespan.com flies from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
STAY Club La Santa (clublasanta.co.uk) is an active holiday resort featuring two pools and 25 different sports. Prices start at £552 per week for a one-bedroom apartment in low season.
SIGHTSEE See awe-inspiring volcanic scenery at Timanfaya National Park. El Golfo is a huge crater filled with a bright green lagoon of seawater and algae.
FUEL Timanfaya National Park’s El Diablo restaurant serves traditional Canarian food, cooked using geothermal heat (around £20 for two courses with wine). Located on the Tinajo to La Santa road, Mezza Luna offers big freshly made pizzas, pasta and Italian dishes (mains from £7 to £15).
WARM UP With some laps of the 400m running track at Club La Santa.
dress, offered their produce, while a chef cooked up paella; both free for runners. The victors, meanwhile, were weighed on an antique scale in order to collect their winnings – their own bodyweight in vino. Now that’s what I call a first prize… RUN IT Keep an eye on clublasanta.co.uk for details on next year’s Lanzarote Wine Run.