We are blogging in random order from the 3 weeks we just spend in Europe. Our next posting will cover the fantastic skiing in the Bernese Oberland (Switzerland) and La Grave (France) as well as time on the Mediterranean cost of France and Spain. During the last week of our trip we were contemplating how we would put together a 20-30 mile training run. We only had a single hand bottle for water so we assumed we would end up doing a 6-9 mile loop several times. We also did not have a real ‘plan’ of where we were going other than we needed to be in Barcelona by the end of the week. We were not having much luck with Google searches about trail running on the Mediterranean cost of France. When we change our search to Spain, we had a great hit on Bryon Powell’s ‘irunfar’ website. He had some great information about running in Spain, but even better, one of the responses was asking about a company called Running Costa Brava located in Girona, Spain. This was exactly the area we were headed to, now we were on to something. Reading their website, it sounded perfect, they plan the route, either guide you or provide you a GPS, meet you with water and food every 8-12Km, organize the lodging, and transport your luggage. The problem, it was Sunday night and we were hoping to do a run on Tuesday. Taking a chance, we sent them an email and within a couple of hours, Cristina had emailed us back. She said they would see what they would do about putting something together on short notice and that it would be one of the longest runs they had put together with such little notice. By Monday mid-morning, we had another email with details of lodging in Girona, a 40km route (it later turned into 50km), lodging in Cadeques where we would finish, and a very reasonable price. At this time, we were in Cap d’Agde, France and had a 2 hour drive to Narbonne, then a 3-4 hour train ride to Girona, we quickly confirmed we could get to Girona Monday night and booked everything with Cristina. We had several bumps getting to Girona with a 50 minute train delay which we assumed meant we would miss our connecting train in Figueres. We were scrambling to come up with backup plans for lodging in Figueres and leaving from there instead of Girona, but luckily, the connecting train waited and we made it to Girona. After an ~3km walk in the dark from the train station (with all of our luggage including skis) we finally found our hotel for the night and finally settled in just before midnight. Not exactly the hectic late night you want before a 50 km run.
Pablo (Cristina’s husband) picked us up on Tuesday morning and we drove about 1 hour to where we would start near Portbou. Pablo showed us the route on the mapping program on his laptop, provided us with a Garmin Oregon 450 GPS with the route loaded, and we were off. The route they had planned was a fantastic mix of beaches, mountains, ancient ruins, and coastal towns. From Portbou, we followed the coast to Llanca where Pablo met us with water.
From Llanca we had a great climb up to Monestir St Pere the Rhodes. We followed the ancient trails up to this monastery that was built in the 9th century. Pablo again met us a couple of times on this leg. We quickly toured the monastery and then were off again.
From Monestir St Pere the Rhodes we descended to the village of Veredera Costel, then on to Port de la Selva. It was in Port de la Selva that we decided to add a few kilometers to our run. We had missed Pablo and therefore our water stop so after we climb up out of Port de la Selva, we ran back down to town to fill up water and buy a croissant. We were pretty sure we knew where the next meeting spot was, but if we missed Pablo there, we were definitely a little concerned about heading out for 15 miles with 40 oz of water and 1 Gu between the 2 of us. If things didn’t go well, this could get challenging to do 15 miles on 50 calories. Luckily, we were able to get in contact with Pablo and he ran in and met us with water as we ran from Port del le Selva through Natural Parc of Cap de Creus. We filled with water, then ran with Pablo to his car parked !10 km on the other side of the park. We took a break here for a while and refueled (we had run 22 miles in just under 5 hours and had only eaten 450 calories each). From the edge of the park, we followed the road back down to the coast, past a fantastic light house, then down ancient trails to Port Lligat and finally to Cadeques. By the time we reach Cadeques, my Forerunner was reading 29.5 miles (and I had accidentally shut the watch off for around 10 minutes). Cadeques was a beautiful coastal village that was a perfect way to end the run and relax for the rest of the day and the following morning before catching a bus back to Girona.
This was the first time we had done a ‘catered’ run like this and it was fantastic. Neither of us could imagine a better way to see the area. It was great to not have to worry about planning a route, navigating it, figuring out where to restock water and food, and how to get our bags to the finish. Cristina and Pablo took care of all of this. We will definitely be planning more catered runs on future trips.
Here is a link to our course plotted from my Garmin Forerunner. You can check out the elevation, terrain, and it also has a player that will play the route on the map while following along on the pace and elevation charts (it’s pretty cool).