International Running Challenge 2013

Hello bloggers, I’ve returned from my little hiatus and am sat on my couch, feeling slightly sorry for myself with a cold. So I’ve decided that writing my blog about the International Running challenge I recently took part in will make me feel much better 🙂

The International Running challenge (http://www.clublasanta.com/sports-activities/event,-races-training-camps/2013/11/international-running-challenge) is an annual event that takes place each November in Club La Santa, Lanzarote (http://www.clublasanta.com/). The challenge comprises of 4 running events in 4 days – you can take part in individual races or face the ‘challenge’ of all 4 ! A medal and bragging rights are on offer for the challenge conquerors, so that was my goal.

My running club, Garden City Runners, has a long traditional of sending small teams to the event and I joined up for the 25th annual challenge to focus my run training for my new year 70.3 and it certainly did that : and gentle ‘breakfast’ jog and then 4 races in 4 days ? Lets go !

Race #1 : 10k Vince Regan memorial road race

A great way to start the event with 2 loops of a straight forward road course, with some typical volcanic scenery – leaving from the resort running track, past the sea water lagoon, up the short hill, along to the ‘ghost town’ and back to the track. My goal was to take this nice and steady as I had 3 more days to go. I met a great new running buddy along the way and we paced each other to a finish of 55 mins. This was spot on with my prediction so I was happy after race #1.

Lots of smiles........ I think I have nearly finished
10k. Lots of smiles…….. I think I have nearly finished

Race #2 : 13km Ridge run

When I first visited the Club La Santa resort, I was told all about the Ridge run and I have to admit his description sold me the event. This had to be the best race of the week, with a gradual 6km incline up to the top of a volcano rim, then down the other side. I say ‘down’, but that seemed to be all into a head wind and being all off-road there wasn’t any free speed to be had – it was tough running all the way. The finish line was crossed after 1 hr 12 mins, with a big blister on the sole of my foot and another big smile on my face !

The Ridge run
The Ridge run

Race #3 : 5k Beach run

Ever run on soft sand ? Yep, its mean ! This was a tough 5k……….. the course was made up of both soft and packed sand, but why can I only remember the soft stuff ? Full concentration was needed throughout and I admit to being relieved to cross the finish line after a 32 minute slog. A dip the clear blue, wonderfully warm ocean was our reward 🙂

The concentration - that pesky soft sand was waiting to trip me up !
The concentration – that pesky soft sand was waiting to trip me up !

Race #4 : 21k (1/2 marathon) La vuelta de Tinajo

The last race of the challenge had been my major focus all along. Having just missed my goal by 55 secs couple of weeks before, I was determined to go off to New Zealand with my first sub 2hr 1/2 marathon. Travelling to and standing on the start line I was a bit knackered though, and started to doubt whether I could really do it.. Yes the course is a net downhill, but the first 200m were up a slope into a headwind, then it was once round a volcano, with a shockingly sharp 100m incline on the way, some swirling winds (specially blown in from the Sahara apparently for the event !) and 70% off-road ! What was I thinking ? Many things…… ‘I’m not running tomorrow’ was on top of my list.

Off went the gun, and so did we. All was going ok until that pesky blister decided to wake up round mile 6, ouch, ouch, ouch ! All I kept thinking was ; ‘keep on running’, ‘one foot in front of the other’, ‘there’s a medal at the end’ and ‘sub 2 hr isn’t that important’. Funny how your mind gets in the way, isn’t it ? I was convinced I was going really slowly, shuffling almost, and had no real way of checking this as I don’t wear a gps watch, just a stopwatch, and had missed the km markers between 10 and 16 (think they were blown away !!)

Conditions did deteriorate as we started the descent back to Club La Santa and I decided at this point that I would never ever be doing the Running challenge ever, ever again !

Then a couple of things happened : I was handed a jelly baby by a spectator (they give you wings it seems), I saw 2 of the club’s support team cheering us on (they had battled on bikes to the top of a hill) and I passed the 16k marker at 1hr 25 mins (huh, 5 km in sub 35 mins ? Yes I can !!)

In the midst of battle !
In the midst of battle !

The rest is history as they say : the wind was mean, my body hurt, my blister burst and someone ran past me towards the end having used me as shelter, but I didn’t care ! Crossing the finish line in 1 hr 55 secs was a great moment, so was being handed my well-earned medal and I started thinking about what I would do differently next year………. funny that !

#136, you did good !
#136, you did good !
Team GCR
Team Garden City Runners, the conquering heros

We recovered, we ate and we drank a little too……… some of the team went home the next day, while some of us were lucky enough to stay another week – but that’s a story for another blog !

Is that the kettle I hear ? Yes please, fluids are the cure for a cold right ?

Bye for now

Catherine, Age Group girl

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