The island has its own indigenous sports left over from prehistoric times; plough lifting, rock carrying, stick fighting or extreme pole vaulting anyone? It also hosts a pretty decent range of international sporting events. If only the island football team would drag itself out of the doldrums of the second division, then everybody would be happy!
Las Palmas city now has its own annual marathon every year. The 2011 event is scheduled for the 23rd of January and inscription is open on the website at; http://www.grancanariamaraton.com . For those who fancy a run but don’t want the blisters, there is also a half marathon and a 10 Km fun-run going at the same time. The routes run through the streets and along the beachfront of Las Palmas.
For some people, the marathon just isn’t long enough, so in October we have the Ultra Trail Gran Canaria races, a 175 Km pair trail race and a 85 Km cross-island run (from sea level up to 2000 metres above sea level and then back down the other side).
In November Las Palmas goes boating crazy for a day when the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) heads off to St Lucia. Over 200 yachts take part and the sight of them all unfurling their sails outside the harbor is worth going out of your way to see. Enterprising travelers, especially those who know their gunnels from their jibs, have even managed to cadge a lift across the Atlantic on boats short of a crew member or two.
At the end of April the petrol heads descend on the island for the annual Rally Islas Canarias for cars up to 2000cc. The 15 stage rally starts in Las Palmas and consists of 15 asphalt stages through the windy mountains roads in the centre of the island. It takes place over the last weekend of April; it’s a good weekend to not be in the mountains with anywhere important to go as lots of the roads are cut off!
In July, the tiny town of Pozo Izquierdo on the east coast hosts a leg of the PWA world windsurfing championship. The nine-day event turns the sleepy little town into an international centre for boarders thanks to its guaranteed strong wind and waves. If you are on the island while it on, a day trip out to Pozo, as it is known by the locals, is well worth it.
The famous El Confital surfbreak, a fantastic hard right wave that tubes splendidly on the right day, hosts a stage of the IBA World Bodyboard Tour in December and a stage of the ASP World Qualifying Series in October. The usually quiet beach, within 15 minutes walk of Las Palmas city, turns into tent and board city on these weekends! Just be aware that for the rest of the year, El Confital is a local wave and outsiders are not exactly welcome!
Image: © 2010 Alex Bramwell