Endurance Sports in Tenerife

Fri, April 6th, 2012 - By Linda

Walking my dog along the seafront in El Médano it seems the whole world is in motion. Athletic girls in lycra, elderly gents in shellsuits, young bucks in shorts, they all seem to take their exercise seriously, and it’s no wonder. Long distance running and other endurance sports are big business; you will see similar scenes island-wide, from Puerto de la Cruz to Playa de las Americas. The Canary Islands’ great weather means you rarely get “rained off.”

The archipelago boasts two modern, classic marathons, one in Gran Canaria, and the other in Lanzarote, but there are half marathons throughout Tenerife, from Santa Cruz and La Laguna to Las Galletas (near Costa del Silencio) in the south, plus shorter races throughout the year, though obviously winter is best.

Lots of people, having conquered the marathon, look for a different challenge, and find it in triathlon, the three disciplines (swim, cycle, run) requiring a wider range of fitness, and guess what – the swim part can be done in the ocean here.  Even those accustomed to triathlon find participating in Tenerife demands a bit extra. That’s because in addition to swimming in the sea, the bike and run sections involve gradients which truly test their fitness. The most famous Canarian triathlon is Lanzarote’s Ironman, which brings competitors from throughout the world, and inspires countless triathlon clubs in Tenerife!

I confess before living here I used to think that cycling was a bit wimpy compared to, say rugby or long-distance running. It didn’t take long to change my opinion. I was picnicking in Las Lajas, the recreational area above Vilaflor, when a young man bumped down the dirt path on his bike, and I realized he had cycled up from Los Cristianos. That was some years back, now I’m accustomed to seeing cyclists alone or in groups pushing up the mountain roads, and I’m in awe of the stamina that takes. Tenerife is fast becoming the winter training favourite for cyclists from several countries, who used to head for Mallorca.

The endurance sport which has really taken off here in recent years is trail running, as with other sports, the terrain offers particular challenges, and demands peak fitness. Territory covered can vary from cool forest to volcanic badlands, and has the bonus of offering the sportsman/woman beautiful scenery to enjoy en route. The most famous competition is named the Blue Trail, and in 2011 it began in the southern resort town of Los Cristianos and ended in the lush La Orotava Valley, a distance of around 100 kilometres, and no ordinary 100 kilometres at that. Beginning in the dark, pre-dawn coastal plain, it wound up mountain sides, to the wild volcanic landscape and heat of the Teide National Park, and down through forests into the most fertile part of Tenerife. This event certainly puts the “ultra” in ultra marathon!  There are shorter versions, but none is exactly easy! Now in its third year the race already rivals La Palma’s Transvulcan, and is helping put Tenerife firmly on the ultra marathon map, so much so that Saturday morning television now devotes a regular segment to the sport.

So whether you are stirred to action, or just to cheer on, you know that there is more to Tenerife than lounging in the sun!

Posted : Friday, April 6th, 2012 at 1:21 pm
Category : events
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