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.

PS Tonight the tracker is lagging behind by a full day, showing me where I was last night.