day one of five in Sidetracks & Detours Free Fiesta On Lanzarote
A LIFE ON LANZAROTE
by Norman Warwick
Born in a ´small town´ in Jutland, Denmark Anna-Lis Gasque grew up, with nine brothers and sisters, on a small farm. Like all children in that part of the world at that time she left school at thirteen and it was expected that she would work in the fields and with the animals.
Although she describes her childhood as ´fantastic´ she knew ´there was a big, wide world out there´ and she was eager to see it. She grew upo weariung wellington boots and clogs but was soon wanting to wear real shoes. So, although at the age of fifteen, she found a job in a zoon on Bornholm, a holiday island in Denmark, she was soon in her twenties and running her own disco in Silkeborg.
Even then, though, she was planning to leave the nightlife behind before reaching her thirties and open her own fashion ship. This she did, and enjoyed it, but soon realised that her ´sales reps were having more fun !´ So when she next visited a fashion fair, she spotted a collection she liked, spoke to the manager and had a sales job within half an hour, and she loaded the clothes into her car and set off to sell them. Eventually she established her own designer label called Avantis.
She visited la Santa on Lanzarote with friends and the first man she met became her husband ! He was working on reception and he checked her in. (I think the English translation of that might be ´checked her out!)
Although she claims that she had never been sporty in her life and had never run properly she allowed the man she now knew as Kenneth to train her up for a half-marathon and she has since completed three official events and even learned to swim in her late sixties, and loved it so much that she has since taken part in several open water competitions and has swum the waters between Lobos and Fuerteventura and between Lanzarote and La Graciosa. (Both of those stretches can be pretty rough even on a ferry crossing !) Anna-Lis frequently ends up on the podium but says this is because ´there aren´t many women who swim in my age group´.
She was delighted to be asked to appear on the April cover of Lanzarote Gazette Life, accepting it as her ´last chance to be a cover girl!´ Truth be told she had some modelling back in Denmark but never focussed on it as a career.
Lisa-Ann is as beautiful as is Lanzarote, and she admits that ´I look after myself and remain interested in fashion. I currently design our Ocean Lava range.´
Her attitude is to always look on the bright side of life,
With three children and six grand-children she admits to feeling incredibly lucky.
´I have a great life here,´ she says, ´and, inside, I don´t feel old at all.´
Her husband, too, is similarly well settled and content. Kenneth arrived in Lanzarote in 1983 from Denmark and worked until recently as Sporting Director of Club La Santa. He now runs his own international triathlon series under the name of Ocean Lava, (shown on our cover) for which Anna-Lis is presently designing.
Kenneth participated in the then very new Ironman event at Kona in Hawaii back in 1985. He had seen someone at Club La Santa wearing a T Shirt with the words “Ironman Hawaii” on it, and he asked where he could buy one. “You can’t buy it, you have to earn it,” was the answer, and Kenneth resolved to find out more.
Struck by the similarity between Kona and his home in Lanzarote – they are both volcanic islands with challenging weather conditions – he resolved to bring Ironman to Lanzarote.
He contacted the event’s organiser and signed a contract which would bring Ironman to Lanzarote in 1992. That first event had only 148 entries, with 131 starting and 116 finishing.
Ironman Lanzarote has become an iconic part of the IM series, and is renowned as the hardest Iron distance triathlon in the world. The combination of huge climbs, on a bike, into the hills of Lanzarote and the often searing heat on the run create a challenge that has proved irresistible to athletes from around the world, with around 2,000 taking part each year.
As well as having the inspiration to bring the event to the island, Kenneth, (right) in his role as race director has worked tirelessly year after year to ensure everything runs smoothly, the event is safe and the army of volunteers are well looked after and know what they are doing. One of his trademarks was that he was there, at the finish line every year, from dawn until midnight, to personally welcome every athlete across the line and present them with their finisher’s medal.
The value of Ironman to Lanzarote is incalculable. As well as the thousands of athletes and their families who come for the event, many more thousands come to the island every year to train, sometimes two or three times each year. A whole industry to support those athletes has grown on the island – sports shops, hotels offering training facilities, coaching services and much more. The event has also acted as an inspiration to so many islanders to get fit and strong enough to be able to call themselves an Ironman.
Any of our readers who have ever visited Lanzarote will likely be aware of the Ironman Lanzarote event and whether you ever taken part in it or simply watched it from the roadside or even on tv from your sofa will know just how gruelling the event must be for its competitors.
It’s fitting, and a huge honour for Lanzarote, that Kenneth Gasque was enrolled into the Ironman Hall of Fame for 2019, joining a small group of 35 people who have been so honoured since 1993.
This was reported at the time in Lanzarote Information on line, who added hearty congratulations to someone who has made a huge difference to so many people’s lives. Lanzarote Information described Kenneth and his wife, Anna-Lis, as two of the nicest people you could ever meet.
Join us again tomorrow for day two of five in our Sidetracks & Detours virtual Free Fiesta On Lanzarote, when we will introduce you to Rosella, a lady who lives high in the hills and is notoriously difficult to pick up. But keep your hands to yourself or else she will drop you like a stone from a very high height !