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Regular readers would, by now, know that EG is an ultra marathon runner, and last weekend, he competed in the gruelling 52-km Lanzarote Mountain Marathon, so, naturally, the class was centred around this.

Although the majority of us would hardly survive a mere fraction of this circuit, for EG, this only serves as a warm-up for the “big” one – the 176-km Ultra Trail Gran Challenge, which begins at Barranco de Guayadeque on Friday, 14th October at 00:00, and the first racers are expected to come sauntering in around 14:00 at Playa de Melenara, Telde on Saturday! For the uninitiated, an extreme marathon is nothing like the road marathons. They run through mountain and forest tracks, zigzagging their way up and down treacherous, often slippery, paths which easily require double the length of time it takes to complete a road marathon.

For this ‘easy’ race, the winner took 5 hours; EG completed in 7 hours, and finished mid-table.

We talked about the race: the difficulties he’d encountered, how long he’d needed to complete the race in comparison to the others, the areas the marathon covered, and the island of Lanzarote, in general.

For those unfamiliar with Lanzarote, it is a volcanic island, and is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, a mere 125 km from the coast of Africa.

In spite of the long summer break, EG remains fairly fluent. Just the other day, I was invited to have lunch with him and a couple of his colleagues (my ex-students), and one of them remarked that he’d found EG more fluent. I was, of course, happy to hear this, and gave myself, deservedly or not, a slight pat on the back!

Sure, EG still makes a lot of the same mistakes over and over again, but he’s now aware of most of them soon after he makes them. These are usually errors that stem from the direct translation he does in his head before he speaks, errors quite common among Spanish speakers. These include pronunciation, especially words which include the vowels e and i (the Spanish pronounce words as they are spelt), comparatives, and expressing purpose with for/to.

I believe that, with practice, he will become more fluent; he’ll get to the stage where he doesn’t need to rely on translation to speak, and when that time comes, he will cease to make these errors.

Here, then, was what we saw during the lesson:


Ankle (Me torcí el tobillo: I twisted my ankle)
combine (acoplar)
esplanade /ˌespləˈneɪd/, promenade /ˌprɒməˈnɑːd/
lava /ˈlɑːvə/
middle of nowhere
path, track, dirt track, trail
plan (planificar)
ring road (circunvalación)
sun cream, suntan lotion
to be afraid (César Manrique was a media celebrity and the politicians were afraid of him.)


arrive /əˈraɪv/ NOT /əˈrɪv/
castle /ˈkɑːs(ə)l/ NOT /ˈkɑːstlei/
circuit /ˈsɜː(r)kɪt/ NOT /ˈsɜː(r)kwɪt/
east /iːst/ NOT /eɪɑːst/
fifteen – fifty ˌ/fɪfˈtiːn/ – /ˈfɪfti /
island /ˈaɪlənd/ NOT  /ˈaɪslənd/

Mistakes (generally due to a literal word-by-word translation)

Tuvimos que bajar por el acantilado: We had to go down the cliff / We had to go down by way of the cliff
Caminé por la playa: I walked along the beach
Tuvimos que correr por las rocas: We had to run on the rocks /We had to run over rocks

al otro lado NOT for other side
Bajamos por el otro lado: We went down by the other side /We went down the other side

de nuevo: again NOT of new
La gente de Lanzarote: people from Lanzarote NOT people of Lanzarote
Es possible escuchar: It’s possible to hear
Perdí la orientación: I became disorientated / I lost my bearings
Era demasiado tarde para cambiar de opinión: It was too late to change my mind (/maind/ NOT /mɪnd/)
Igual que (the same as / similar to)