Feb 11, 2022
I hit snow on this day back in 2013, as I was running through central Spain. At least I had long pants to run in, which I didn’t have when I first struck snow in the US the year before. The posts and photos below will give you a sense of it.
Without really trying, I’ve noticed my mileage is higher so far this year than at the same time last year, even though I thought it would be lower given my sore heel. It’s still only early yet, but at least it’s a positive sign.
Feb 8, 2013
Distance today = 54.51 km; Total distance = 16,196.12 km; Location = Almorox – 40 12.647′ N, 04 23.799′ W; Start time = 0926, Finish time = 1804
When running around the world, one can’t expect the conditions to be favourable every day, and they certainly weren’t today. I had to contend with a fierce and cold headwind all day long. It really sapped my energy and made it very tough.
I decided to head north to Avila rather than north-east to Madrid. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, I don’t like running through a major metropolis. Secondly, I wanted to see Avila, possibly the best preserved walled city in Europe. We haven’t been there since 1986, and we’d been in Madrid with Libby as recently as 2009.
Finally, Madrid is one of my antipodal points for the run. This means it is on the opposite side of the Earth to somewhere else I’ve run – in this case, Wellington in NZ. It is an accepted convention in world running that you pass through two such points. However, there is a tolerance allowed, and Madrid and Wellington aren’t really exactly antipodal to each other anyway. They miss by about 50 km. By going to Avila, my path will precisely coincide with my course on the opposite side of the Earth when I ran through the NZ towns of Otaki and Levin. Although Madrid would have sufficed, passing through Avila is even more accurate – an added incentive.
So, I headed north toward Avila, but unfortunately it was a day on which a strong north wind should begin to blow (yes, I know, another song cue). And the region was very exposed, with few trees and lots of high plateaus. At least the wind eased a little toward the end of the day.
I am seeing hundreds of rabbits through the Spanish countryside – lean and athletic looking rabbits. This could be a good omen, as the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs begin their pre-season this week with a game against the Papua New Guinea national side. I should be finishing my run this year in time to see the boys playing in the Grand Final in late September – I hope.
We discovered a wine in a restaurant in Toledo that deserves a mention. It’s called Torre de Galate, and is a blend of tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon grapes. I rated it as an 8 out of 10, which, at ten euros per bottle, was exceptional value for a wine purchased in a restaurant.
Feb 9, 2013
Distance today = 48.98 km; Total distance = 16,245.10 km; Location = El Barraco – 40 28.620′ N, 04 38.532′ W; Start time = 0904, Finish time = 1722
Today was by far the hilliest so far in Europe, with a mountain top finish to boot. And as is usually the case with mountain stages, it was quite picturesque. But the heel didn’t appreciate it. It flared up a bit toward the end of the day, but it’s not too much of a problem just yet.
It was also a cold day, to the point that I wore my gloves – the ones Libby gave me for my birthday, almost a year ago in California. It was nice to be warm.
I also ran across a large dam wall. The view from the surrounding hills was quite stunning as I approached the dam. From there, it was all uphill to the finish at the town of El Barraco. That’s when the heel started to feel it. I haven’t run this far uphill since I ascended the Andes last November.
And I passed an interesting milestone today – I now have less than 10,000 km to run to complete my journey around the world. That means I’m now down to single figures. Woo hoo!!!!
Feb 10, 2013
Distance today = 54.11 km; Total distance = 16,299.21 km; Location = Villacastin – 40 46.827′ N, 04 24.839′ W; Start time = 0901, Finish time = 1741
Diet is often considered a key component of an adventure like running around the world. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out as you’d like, and you have to take what you can get. Last night we headed out to have dinner, and noticed there were hundreds of people milling around outside and in bars. All the restaurants were empty, but had all their tables set up for big groups. Each one we tried told us they were booked out.
It turned out there was some sort of festival on – something to do with Lent – and the whole town was out for a feast. So we had to take the next best thing – tapas. A nice barman, Jose, realised our dilemma, and kept plying us with whatever tapas was remaining, while all the townspeople headed off to their various restaurants for dinner. We had sausage, tortilla, chips, calamari on bread, and some things I have no clue about. I thought I’d feel a bit below par today because of it, but I actually felt very good.
The town itself – El Barraco – is very interesting, with a serious athletic pedigree. It turns out that Carlos Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour de France, lives in the town and grew up here. No wonder he was a good climber, when just about any decent training ride in these parts would have entailed 2,000 metres or more of ascent. And the hotel owner, Txema, is related to Martin Fiz, a former world champion marathon runner.
It was a big climb of over 400 metres out of town, culminating at the top of the mountain pass, where a bit of snow was still on the ground. I’ve now had consecutive days with over 1,000 metres of vertical ascent, but my heel is feeling fine, despite the work it’s had to do.
I’ve done some more research on antipodal points, and when I was a short distance from Avila, I reached a point which was precisely on the other side of the world from a road I ran on just north of the town of Levin in NZ. It was strange to think that, directly below me – about 12,800 km through the centre of the Earth – was that same road I ran on just over a year ago. Except that I was then running upside-down or am I now running upside-down?
I found the town of Avila a little disappointing. In 1986 the old walled town stood out clearly, with little that was modern obscuring it. Now it’s difficult to see the old town for all the new buildings. The ancient walled town still exists, but you have to go looking for it. While there, I ducked into a Burger King to use the toilet. Despite it being lunchtime, there was only an old American couple in the place. Never seen such an empty hamburger joint.
There were hundreds of wind turbines rotating furiously all along my course today. They would have been churning out hundreds of megawatts of power on a day like this.
The day itself was generally overcast, with a westerly wind blowing strongly. For me, this was a tailwind during the afternoon, when the wind was at its most vigorous. If I’d taken the Tour de Bois on a ride into the headwind from a couple of days ago, they would have lynched me. But they would have been happy with me today – except perhaps for the hills, although the mountain goats, like Dave, would have enjoyed those too.
Feb 11, 2013
Distance today = 50.09 km; Total distance = 16,349.30 km; Location = Cabanas – 41 03.347′ N, 04 06.063′ W; Start time = 0900, Finish time = 1703
My first day of snow in Europe so far!!! It wasn’t so bad, as most of the snow occurred overnight, and what fell during the day was very light. And I’ll tell you something for free – Spain isn’t lacking in hills.
We awoke to a white morning, which is always a bit daunting. There was still some snow falling when I set off, but it let up soon after. The cold tailwind obviously helped make the running easier.
There wasn’t much to see en route, other than the white fields, until I reached Segovia. This is an old Roman town with a very impressive aqueduct, which is still in pretty good condition.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent heading north, out of town. The last 5 km was through a canyon on a very quiet and forested road. The trees and canyon walls shielded me from the wind, so it was relatively quiet and peaceful as the snow gently fell.