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It’s the hardest 70.3 race in the world … yet they still come

Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote will see a record-sized pro and age-group field tomorrow

Photo by: James Mitchell/ Club La Santa

We wrote earlier today about Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and how it is the traditional professional season opener in North America. Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote is rapidly becoming the European equivalent, with a record-sized pro and age-group field set to compete tomorrow over Ironman’s toughest 70.3 course. “Race on another planet,” the event’s motto states – thanks to the strong winds, climbing, warm temperatures on the run and a bike course that runs through intense lava fields, athletes often do feel like they’re on another planet, one in which lots of pain is the norm when it comes to racing.

Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote race director Fabio Cabrera, 2019 Ironman world champion Anne Haug, 2019 Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote champion Daniel Baekkegard and Emma Pallant-Browne are interviewed by Triathlon Magazine’s Kevin Mackinnon at the press conference. Photo: James Mitchell

Just ask winners of this race and they’ll tell you – there’s something more satisfying about taking the title here because it sends a signal to the rest of the world that in addition to being a winner, you can also endure some of the fiercest conditions you’ll face at a race. At yesterday’s press conference three-time champion Anne Haug and 2019 winner Daniel Baekkegard shared just how satisfying having this win on your resume can be since it is renowned for being so tough.

None of which seems to have deterred the 77 pros who have signed up for the race (you can see the pro field here) or the over 1,200 age group athletes who are here in Lanzarote to take on the race. This year’s event features new bike and run courses that promise more climbing than in year’s past. Add to that the windy conditions that are being predicted for the island for the next few days and you have the makings of a … OK, you get the picture.

Haug vs Palant-Browne?

Last year Haug took second here in Lanzarote to Kat Matthews, who would then go on to take an impressive runner-up finish at the Ironman World Championship in St. George a few months later (with Haug finishing third), then lead the way at the Sub-8 project the following month. Haug has won this race three times and would dearly love to take a fourth title – she spends roughly half the year training at Club La Santa, the title sponsor of the race, so she considers this to almost be a “home” race.

The German will face a tough challenge, though, most likely from Great Britain’s Emma Pallant-Browne, who had a brilliant season last year over the half-distance with six wins and that bronze medal in St. George. Two more Brits, India Lee and Lydia Dant could also be in the mix, too.

Baekkegard on the run in 2019. Photo: Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote

Baekkegard again?

After a third-place finish at Clash Miami last weekend, the Dane is very keen to take another title here in Lanzarote. He, too, spends a lot of time training on the island, and would dearly love to take a second title here. He’ll have his work cut out for him, though, with athletes like Thor Bendix Madsen (DEN), Maurice Claver (GER), Andreas Dreitz (GER) and Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) in the field.

In the end, though, whoever wins tomorrow’s race will be the one best able to deal with the challenging conditions. Which is exactly why people come to Lanzarote. To race on another planet.

There’s no live coverage of the race tomorrow, so you’ll have to follow the Ironman tracker to get results. We’ll also post a wrap-up story shortly after the race is over.

You can watch yesterday’s press conference below: