London to Lisbon

Hi Rory Coleman here running 1275 miles to Lisbon for Euro 2004. Here's my diary for Day 14. Its 30 miles a day for 45 days! Please go to www.righguardextremefan.com for details.

Day 14 May 13th 2004
La Mayne to Devinas 28 miles Time on road 8hrs 18mins 29secs
Distance covered 395 miles 880 miles to go.

Our camp which looked pretty good last night actually looked a bit like Stalag 13 this morning. Rudely woken by the only JCB this side of Bordeaux, possibly filling in one of the tunnels started by previous escapees the mornings activities could only get better. And they did…big style. Now remember we have been living in this tin can for the last two weeks. Road Dog and myself have left the smallest room for the sole use of our princess of the trip…Sara. Us lads have the free range of France and can guardez loo whenever.

This morning was ‘Sara empty the can time’. Caught on camera with mask and gloves it was almost too much for us to take. She wretched laughed and cried all at once. A truly great moment.

After that all I could do was start the day and get going on my 28 miles for the day. The route was to follow two roads both of 14 miles. Both through a forest. Both with huge lorries carrying logs driving like crazy on narrow roads.

Road Dog, on bike, came and joined me for a stretch. Between us we listed our top fives of most things, it passed the time and distance well and I ran for most of the morning at a good pace. Elevenses was actually twoses and lunch was at four but who cares when you are on the road. At half way I went into a Pharmacy at Carcans and bought some hypodermic needles and a syringe. I have a deep blister under the ball of my right foot. It will not be a problem but I will need to stab it and give it the Iodine treatment. After much Franglais the assistant said ‘just tell me what you want, it will be a lot easier’. 1.27€ a bargain.

The rest of the day was spent very much in the same way as the morning. Just stepping out the miles. The last three of which I ran up tempo. With the web and email up and running, Mrs C here tomorrow and dinner in a short while what could be better.

The notable thing about today’s mileage of 395 miles is that it leaves 880 miles to go; roughly the distance of John O’Groats to Land’s End. Hmmh…

Kind regards and more tomorrow.


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    Think you missed a T out of your link.

    Should be www.rightguardextremefan.com

    Well done... what a marvellous achievementm, best of luck and keep us updated.

    Lets hope the England team do your endeavours justice and bring us a trophy.

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    Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    and if not should they walk home!!!!!!!!
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    Good Luck Rory, hope you raise lots for a very worthwhile cause.
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    Day 15 Friday May 14th 2004
    Devinas to Audenge 29 miles Time on road 6hrs 51mins 28secs
    Distance covered 424 miles 851 miles to go.

    Our idyllic lakeshore we camped by was even more idyllic in this morning's sunlight. BBC Radio Derby called first thing as promised and Andy Whittaker got me talking about the route and things that had happened so far on the trip. Ten minutes later we were still chatting...Sara and Road Dog dutifully gathered our belongs together including the Jenny that now lives outside the vehicle so that Sara doesn't sleep with the petrol fumes. And I got myself in the best shape that I could as SarahJane was flying out to meet me later on.

    Back on the road and yes it was back to from the left...forest, verge, road, verge and forest. All about 5 metres wide, just enough for two 38 tonners to pass at 70 miles an hour. Frightening stuff. I took one picture and that could have been on any part of the road this morning. Lacanau, a small town that has 100 lorries a day through it's dusty streets is obviously where the French government has housed most of it's deaf people. The lorries thunder through. Remember here there are no speed cameras or traffic cops with speed guns.

    I went quickly through here, as I did all day as I had a date. More forest and then my Tiannaman Square incident. The scene is a km of road works with no verge on left, lane coned off for workforce and lane used each way with traffic lights...you get the picture. I am happily going down the coned off lane. In high vis jacket so looking part of the gang, I thought. Well anyway this guy was driving a very wide JCB flat out in my direction. At twenty yards he hadn't slowed. I waved, he kept coming. By now I had eye contact and still he hadn't stopped. I don't know what got into me but I just stood there in a sort of defiance and he finally stopped just two inches short of me. Phew! I just looked up again and hook my head and carried on. Two minutes later he was reversing at high speed back from where he came. This time I moved into the empty carriageway to my right and he passed. England 1 France 1.

    On to Lege Cap le Ferret and a brief rest bite from the sun by a stream. Ten minutes with your feet up does one a world of wonder. With the miles finally one for the day it was off to get SarahJane from Bordeaux Airport. BMI Baby flight delayed three hours so that it could first go to Jersey and back from East Midlands. Now there's logic. Obviously picking her up from the airport was the highlight of the day and our hotel tonight, 'The Dauphin' excellent. Bath and a Bed for the first time in two weeks. Luxury!

    More tomorrow.

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    Day 16 Saturday May 15th 2004
    Audenge to Bisccarrosse 28 miles Time on road 9hrs 15mins 33secs
    Distance covered 452 miles 823 miles to go.

    I must say that waking up in a hotel bed with your wife after two weeks on the crewbus is an absolute luxury. A breakfast of bread and coffee quickly downed and it was on the road for SarahJane and myself for the day. We started off at a slow run. One to get used to get Sarah used to the roads and also to get me used to the weight of the plat full of water that the Road Dog had packed me for the day. I’m so lucky to be looked after so well.

    After only a few miles we came across the find of the journey road wise. A disused railway line turned into a cycling track which went for over 13 miles in our direction. After checking with a surprised local, probably at our combined poor use of French, we ran on at a good pace. Again those that know me really well are now saying, disused railway and Coleman saying the best thing ever. Well it was…no cars, kerbs or dreaded lorries. Also a safe place for the good lady to run along side and to chat away the miles. Back in Stratford-upon-Avon my old home town there is a similar old track and I shudder at the thought of running on it as you have to twice in the Shakespeare marathon and my own Flame Health Marathon of Britain.

    The most notable part of the track was the old stations that were at each of the towns that we passed. They varied from totally converted and changed to completely unchanged and even having the old station clock on the platform. They looked like the ones in Secret Army if you remember the programme. We spoke to a couple of ladies and they took our picture for us. They were called Ali and Petite both form Paris on a cycling holiday, and were interested to know why and what we were doing. They took our email and we took their picture to send to them. Great ain’t it.

    After a great lunch outside in glorious sunshine, in Biganos I set off alone to run by the roadside and make my way south east to Mios. Here in the sun beat down very strongly onto the tarmac and the cars went very fast down the log straight avenues between the trees. I just trudged on and looked at the great wildlife and fauna that I’m now seeing in this area. Swallows circled overhead and there were lizards of vivid colours running for cover as I passed. The plants here are highly coloured and are very fragrant. It must be the heat I’m sounding like Alan Titchmarsh!

    SarahJane returned to me for the last eight miles of the day which went very quickly by and without incident until we lost Road Dog. He was on the bike at the last feed stop and cycled on towards Sanouinet. Sara was ahead at the end of the stage as arranged and he wasn’t between us and her so who knows? France is a huge place we cant search for him all night so let’s hope he a) is ok, b) rings or c) find us. D who knows…more tomorrow.

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    Day 17 Sunday May 16th 2004
    Bisccarrosse to Bias 28 miles Time on road 8hrs 28mins 41secs
    Distance covered 480 miles 795 miles to go.

    Answer b) was the one you were looking for. Then it was a) and then it was c). Then again he is the Road Dog. He is also completely useless at finding where he is going whilst cycling. Basically he went wrong in a one way system in Sanouinet and ended up in Bisccarrosse again. Ah well we all got there in the end. And we were glad to see him. Twit!

    The nights stop ended up as a bit of an odd one. Sara had researched a bar with food by a lake, advertised for mile after mile. The lake was actually net to a building site (for a new sewage farm) later we found, and no need for detail and the bar run by John or in Sara’s terminology ‘a bit of rough’ or a slimy chap to us that needed a shave more like. Road Dogs arrival was heralded with meals in the restaurant being ordered. Half an hour later our food arrived seemingly cooked in axle grease. Food swimming in oil never sets the old appetite going but on this occasion I even ate this. The thought makes my stomach churn.

    On awaking amazingly not having had major food poisoning during the night. We fought off the bugs from the sewage and started for the day. Sarah and I jogged along and quite quickly got to Parentis-en-Born and then headed for south for Ponteux. Before long it was time for Road Dog to pick SarahJane up in the Crewbus and take her back to Bordeaux Airport (Sara had a couple of hours off to herself at this point as everyone who travels in the back of the crewbus get carsick, including me!) for the trip back to blighty. I waved and watched the Crewbus with a tear in my eye for ages it seemed until it finally disappeared from view around one of the infrequent corners on the road.

    I just and to carry on in the heat and refocus on the days objective. Luckily for me the route as Saturday’s had an old railway track converted into a cycle track alongside the main road. I ran along here for most of rest of the day until I reached Mimizan. I did ask one local if there was a route through the forest that was half marked on the map, but he didn’t know. What he did have was a jumper on similar to one I had worn in the early 80’s, so after a brief chat 50% of which I could comprehend, I was able to take his picture.

    The Crewbus now with Sara once more caught me up with 2 miles of the day to go. I was very glad top see the familiar red cross on the side. It needed it I was certainly dehydrated and in need of fluid after the afternoons sun also I took off the plat, hat and hi viz jacket allowing me to cool down. What will Spain be like? A banana for energy and a diet coke for comfort gave me the energy to run to the end of the days route in Bias. Here we are lucky and have found a campsite with all mod cons. Showers, electricity and a hot meal await. Pasta for a change.

    SarahJane has just text and is home she says that my wisteria has a flower on it…what a day!

    More later.

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    Day 18 Sunday May 17th 2004
    Bias to Vieux-Beaucoux 29 miles Time on road 8hrs 10mins 17secs
    Distance covered 509 miles 766 miles to go.

    Our little sleepy heads rose just before 9am today. The tranquillity of the campsite making the jump out of bed on a Monday morning all that bit harder. A call from Steve at PiranhaKid our PR agency hailed a new week on the Rightguard Xtreme Fan, and 29 more miles to put in the bank.

    Setting off from the picturesque church in Bias, with the heat of the day already on full I set off at a hearty pace. The usual days route of trees, no verge and wood lorries soon became routine, although the road seemed less flat and had some undulation for the first time in a week. Yippee!

    Soon I was in Vielle a charming town enjoying jam flan, a local delicacy, and elevenses with the crew. A much needed launderette helping the ‘Keep Coleman Clean Campaign’ started by French suffragettes, led by Sara.

    Following around the side of Lake Leon I was soon in Leon, a very religious town, judging by it’s number of Christ on the crosses and huge cemetery. Through Leon and following a huge lunch courtesy of Sara, I was lucky once more to find a disused railway track turned into, yes you guessed it, a cycle route. Here Road Dog joined me on the bike, this time firmly on the leash and we whiled away the time and miles through this beautiful area of France.

    The locals we passed were all really friendly all saying a ‘Bonjour’ and smiling politely. The track beautifully manicured and routed though huge pine trees. Without the traffic it was ‘fantastic’ as Road Dog put it many a time.

    The last few miles just ebbed away and we finally met Sara with the Crewbus just after 6 to finish the day. I was whisked off to the nearest campsite for tonight’s stopover hailed by Sara as a cross between Las Vegas and Blackpool. In reality it became a place where I could meet John Barnes and Peter Ried, no not the ex-England footballers but two of a group of four chaps who are taking their vintage tractors to Benidorm and back from Liverpool for Imperial Cancer Research.

    Peter’s Fordson Major, John’s Ford 3000 and their friend Dave Harrison’s Massey 165 were all looked like they did the day they were made. In reality they were 40 years old! And doing twice my distance, they were remarkable old ladies and reminded me of my Dad and his tractors on the farm where we used to live…happy days.

    Road Dog on the supper tonight and a couple of episodes of the office on DVD later…perfect.

    More later.

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    Dont know how you do it mate, fantastic, keep it up.
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    keep the reports coming rory - amazing stuff! its warm here so must be really hot over there. wishing you well for the rest of it

    M xx
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    Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭
    Rory, tell me which route are you following once in Spain.

    I'm gonna be in the north of Spain the last weekend of May running a half marathon with some Spanish friends, but if you go closer where we'll be, we might do some miles with you if you liked it.

    Good luck anyway.
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    Day 19 Tuesday May 18th 2004
    Vieux-Beaucoux to Biarritz 28 miles Time on road 8hrs 33mins 28secs
    Distance covered 537 miles 738 miles to go.

    Today must go down as the day of many changes. It started very much in way that most now seem to start…about half past eight with no one wanting to get out of their beds. This crewbus and it’s foam mattresses is proving a great aid to sleep. Either that or we are all so tired out, we could sleep on anything.

    Out of the campsite passing the empty spaces where Peter, John and Dave had been with their tractors, and back to the track along the old railway for the first 8 miles or so. Here came the first change, no Road Dog today but Princess Sara aboard my trusty bike. (My poor bike will have travelled nearly as far as I have when we get home). The Princess (don’t know why we call her that yet) In white baseball hat and pink cardigan, cycled along moaning about the saddle and its narrowness for most of the morning. More funnily enough as we went on. The time passed quickly and we met Road Dog with the Crewbus and awning now out and blowing in the wind…(can’t see it lasting long myself) for elevenses.

    The next change must be attributed to mother nature. The trees have now changed from green oaks and pines to a typical yellow leaved Spanish variety. If that makes sense. The forests are far less attractive and just before Hossegar I hit the hills. Yippee! Slightly undulating at first, then turning into some real toughies. As I have said before I need the hills to make me get a move on. The down hills provide a real relief to my tired muscles.

    From here it was into suburbia. Capbreton and Labenne provided me with rough pavements and a multitude of traffic islands to negotiate, back to front of course to read the road signs as well as some stretches perilously close to traffic cycle paths. Here another change noticed as the cars came closer than ever. The mornings pleasant ‘bonjours’ with passing cyclists had now change to minor road rage.

    So much so that coming into Bayonne, a chap in an a Mercedes speeded up and tried to run me over on a zebra crossing. Must be a quaint custom here and he then stopped along side me to explain the red light green light rule of France. On explaining that I was English, he seemed to get worse and I envisaged him next pulling a dead pedestrian sticker from his glove box to add to his collection on his drivers door. I moved on quickly to a nearby newsagent for a can of orange drink to quench my thirst.

    There it got even worse…the shop owner was the grumpiest man in France and the ring pull came off my can of drink. Then the Mercedes driver came in to buy some cigarettes. He was explaining to the grumpy shop owner how he nearly got some English road kill and how I was a complete idiot. Unaware that I knew what he was saying (Thanks again to Gunner Adams my old French teacher). I politely pointed out to the Mercedes driver that he had in fact accelerated towards me. He politely told me that if I did it again he would get me next time, and left. After the shopkeeper had opened my can with his car key and his rather grubby looking hands, I drank my Orange quickly and carried on safely attached to the pavement.

    From there on in the N10 proved a ferocious dual carriageway to negotiate. The temperature now proving the greatest obstacle. Just before 18.30hrs the temperature was still 32c. About 90 in our money. However I ran the last few miles to finish on the outskirts of Biarritz. Tomorrow brings the bonus of going over the border into Spain. Ole.

    More tomorrow.
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    HI Jose,

    Please email me at rory@rightguardextremefan.com and I will send you the itinery for the spain route.

    Kind regards

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    damm - 30 miles a day for 45 days....you mad mad bastard !

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    Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭

    email sent
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    Hello Rory, hope you don't get too many mercedes incidents, keep going and good luck with it.
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    Day 20 Tuesday May 18th 2004
    Biarritz to Lesos 28 miles Time on road 8hrs 19mins 31secs
    Distance covered 565 miles 710 miles to go.

    I didn’t see Biarritz, I just seemed to go around it. Ah well something
    to come back to do. That’s the thing about the Rightguard Extreme Fan
    run there’s just so much to do and see and not enough time to do it in.
    I decided that I would try and get a move on today as the hills had

    The run out of Biarritz was predominately down hill and although the
    menacing traffic was near, the N10 proved a good road to run along.
    Passing Biarritz Airport with the city to my right I was soon along the
    coast, sweating in the 30 degree temperature. In Cross of St. George
    buff today as my Marathon of Britain hat does not look so good anymore.
    As one gets to the border the towns aren’t French or Spanish really they
    are more Spench I’d say. The houses are white now and the scenery more
    like that of Majorca with huge hills sprouting out of the lowlands way
    out to my left inland.

    Into Bidart and the first can of fizzy orange of the day, from a
    boulingerie with a lady whose French I could hardly understand and a
    baker handling bread with a roll up still going in his mouth. (Two
    points here, I know fizzy orange is not known for it’s rehydration
    qualities but for me it’s the business ok. Whereas ten years ago a six
    pack of Stella would have been the only answer and also never buy bread
    from a place called Le Olde Holborn Boulingerie).

    As I ran along the border beckoned me on, there were signs now. Just
    past Hendaye the Crewbus was in sight just past a bridge. Sara and Sean
    were there with fresh England shirt and cameras ready for action. They
    were gesticulating me to go back…yes you’ve guessed it I missed the
    border. Then as you do I looked up and saw a black spray painted out
    Espange sign, what a muppet!

    The traffic jam of lorries and general disorder here was not quite as
    I’d expected. We celebrated all the same with lunch in the car park next
    to the first bottle bank in Spain. Around the corner from here diesel
    being sold at 0.75€ just over 50p a litre (£2.25 a gallon my boss Brian
    would love it!) and a myriad of souvenir and tobacco shops. The first
    few miles here could be the setting for the next Trainspotting film if
    the producers are still looking for somewhere to film. We are talking a
    little rough here!

    I ran even faster and saw my first Km sign on the Spanish N10 called the
    N1 - it said N1 483KM! What a killer. The map of roads looked a real
    jumble here so I decided to stay on the N1 to my nights stopover at
    Lesos. On the way up one of the more massive of hills I overtook a chap
    with his whole house it seemed aboard his bike, and a guitar in flight
    case strapped to his back.

    Gunter the German was on his way to the south of Spain for five years.
    His five year mission was to earn his lodgings by playing guitar and
    live the rest of the day without getting run over. He had no road sense
    whatsoever. Lorries screamed by him and he just merrily pushed his over
    laden bike up the hills against the flow of traffic. And I thought I had
    it bad. I took his photo for forensic medical purposes and kept ahead of
    him for 2 miles until he got me on a downhill.

    You will be glad to hear that we did get to a beach tonight after
    finishing the days mileage and I had a swim in a moderately warm
    Atlantic Ocean. Legs refreshed and a drive time chat with BBC Nottingham
    later I am resting up for the night. Sounds like I am missing the good
    weather back home too.

    More later.
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    can i ask why?
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    Why what? Why run it, then look at www.rightguardextremefan.com regards Rory.
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    Day 21 Wednesday May 19th 2004
    Lesos to Zarautz 29 miles Time on road 7hrs 24mins 45secs
    Distance covered 594 miles 681 miles to go.

    Yes it’s officially Hot, I know everyday I say its been boiling but today it’s boiled dry. Phewee! However, it had started a bit grey, not the weather but with the port of Lesos. This coastal town was brought here in the seventies brick by brick from the shipyards of Russia and reconstructed to its full glory. Boy this place was rough!

    It also had a strange things happening in it’s docks. The railway ended here and there was a train made of car transporter carriages unloading Opel (Vauxhall) cars. The cars have to travel the whole length of the train to get off and go over a series of joins and bumps as they neared the end of it. The idea of the workers doing the unloading, seemed to be to test the 0-60 speed of the cars. After which they were sent to different pounds depending on which style they were driving. In doing this the tyres were dutifully spun and screamed on the tarmac. I think this is what Opel call pre-road testing. One good thing I suppose is that the cars won’t now need running in by their new owners.

    Further into the port and there was a Russian ship off loading scrap metal, all my mind was saying to me was that it must be radio active. In fact there was lots of scrap metal, making a huge noise in the process of being craned off. Then quite bizarrely the cars behind me started beeping their horns…the dual carriage way was now blocked by a protest of construction workers demanding more money and better conditions. There were in fact hundreds of cars actually going slower than me, with campaign messages stuck to their windows. As they beeped the traffic held up also beeped…along with the radio active scrap metal from Russia…this was somewhere to get out of fast.

    Not an easy thing to do in San Sebastian where the Spanish and Basques can’t agree on their road sign language, and each of them spray out the others directions. I had to follow my nose and headed towards the centre. One guy recognised my England shirt and spoke English to me, he was James from Algeria and asked me if I wanted to go to the beach, it must be the bandana, back to the hat tomorrow! Anyway San Sebastian proved to be a delightful city with very beautiful, wide streets and a huge contrast to Lesos. That’s Spain, a land of contrast. I can see that already.

    Out past the city limits it was onto the N1/N634 dual carriageway. This brought myself and Sara and Road Dog lots of problems as both roads separate, join and then separate again without signs. That was tough for us all especially in the midday heat. Somehow though we got through it and onto our main road for the rest of the day…N634. Narrow and lightly undulating would be an understatement. This was going to be a test. All I could do was to stop when a lorry passed or leap over the crash barrier I was next to. Only of course if there wasn’t a 50m drop. My mouth dried up here and if I had spoken to anyone it would have been falsetto.

    At the top of one of the hills, it was time to take off my shoes and air my melting feet. Here I discovered just how comfortable bus shelters can be. My fifteen minutes kip here seemed to do the trick. After another quick stop with the Crewbus and about 4 litres of Orange Fanta, I ran the last 3 miles to finish on the sand as Zarautz. A pretty seaside town with a busy seafront and a cool sea to relax my muscles in. We are camped here tonight above the town with a view over the beach and out to sea. A quiet night in watching the sunset will do tonight I think…

    More tomorrow

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    I have loved reading your reports Rory, bringing back memories of holidays taken in Landes about 10 years ago and our drive through northern Spain to get the ferry home from Santander.

    Can't wait for the next instalment.
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    Day 22 Friday May 21st 2004
    Zarautz to Bergara 28 miles Time on road 8hrs 20mins 41secs
    Distance covered 622 miles 653 miles to go.

    Waking after another solid nights sleep, it was hard to get underway and leave the great town of Zarautz. One of our favourite’s so far. I recommend a holiday here for anyone who wants a great beach and surf as well as somewhere unspoilt by the usual holiday fraternity. Road Dog reckons that he is coming back here to stay possibly for some time, so that might reduce real estate too.

    After yesterday’s boiler and excitement, it’s hard to think that anything more of interest can happen. Well it started pretty quietly, as predicted. The first thing today was to get used to going back up those hills (understatement). After my feet melted yesterday I thought that today would be a very painful one. Actually I was totally wrong. So far every two days I change from a pair of Saucony Grid Hurricane VI to a pair of Saucony Grid Stabils and vice versa, this rests parts of my feet that get rubbed and also changes the stresses put on different bones in my feet. I must say that in any other make of shoes I would now be in a lot of trouble, so many thanks to Jonny Quint at Saucony for the shoes.

    Back to the hills, and some very strange place names. I reckon these named using the letters left over from the main place names, lots of X‘s and Z‘s. Azpeitia and Azkoitia both industrial towns with large manufacturing areas, were at the bottom of beautiful valleys. They had two things in common, both were deathly quiet (like the episode in Star Trek where Kirk and Spock get transported back in time to a deserted town, you know the one) and the other similarity is that both are worth about 212 on a Scrabble board.

    Sara and Road dog caught me up on the outskirts of Azkoitia, where elevenses and lunch were taken together. From there it was onwards and upwards, I had to go through the centre of town here as the GI 631 does not allow pedestrians through it’s road tunnels. Here I had encounters with a couple of locals…my first with the town’s policeman. I asked him the way to Bergata and using my map we worked out the route out of town together. He was very pleasant but would not be photographed. The other was with a very smart lady in her car who stopped and offered me a lift! I tried to explain what I was doing in English, French and Pigeon Spanish. She didn’t understand any of them really, so I just smiled and carried on. After all, being covered in sweat I would not be good for her upholstery.

    Now here’s the bit that did seem unnerving. Both the policeman and the lady both laughed out loud when I told them which road I was going on to Bergara. The policeman actually turned up in his police car with accomplice to check out if I was on the right road. Either that or he wanted to make sure I’d left. Anyway after 6 miles of uphill I understood the hilarity. I lost count of the hairpin bends. What I did get though was a unique view of the landscape I had covered, and a feeling of gratitude that I was able to be in this incredible place.

    Then after a quick Coca-Cola with the Crew, I ran the last four miles virtually vertically down around massive bends into Bergara to finish another memorable week.
    As a note I’d like to thank everyone who has called this week. Especially, Hannah Coleman (my daughter) Darren Ware (great to catch up with you), Scott Liversidge (the most enthusiastic person I know) and Chris Moon (simply an inspiration). It really helps.

    More next week

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    Day 23 Friday May 21st 2004
    Bergara to Durana 28 miles Time on road 8hrs 00mins 41secs
    Distance covered 650 miles 625 miles to go.

    With thighs that felt like they had been beaten by a meat mallet, I slowly eased my way down the streets of Bergara to start the day. With the Prince of Spain marrying today, the streets were totally deserted. I looked into a shop window selling TV’s and there I glimpsed the spectacle of a wedding that makes any of our own Royal Weddings appear to be in a registry office. We are talking lavish!

    A quick chat with SarahJane, to perk up the spirits, and I was on my way to Vitoria. Whose location, I have decided, no one in Spain is exactly sure of. My route the G632, perfectly marked and easy running on the side of a wide carriage way, just what I needed after yesterdays hills. The first sign Vitoria 36K(22 miles)...great news after an hour. About 42K(26 miles) for the day spot on. In the next 3K(1.8 miles) it went to 50K(31 miles) 47K(29 miles) 44K (28 miles) and then back to 50K. What was going on here. Had Mercator forgotten to measure this area in his projection. I think I need to contact the local authorities to get this sorted out for future generations. Help, my mind just couldn’t compute these comedy distances. I hope this isn’t a shape of things to come.

    With the movable kilometre signs came another problem of knowing where the 637.5 mile point would be. The relevance…HALF-WAY in the Rightguard Xtreme Fan Run. The place decided to mark HALF-TIME, Eskoriatza. Not the most picturesque of places but today most poignant. Pictures and a posy of flowers/weeds courtesy of Sara, and I was back on my way. Up to here, I’d been going really well and imagined and early finish and a well earned and much needed I was informed shower. Then just as you thought it was all going too well, the road turned obliquely left and it was hill time. Again.

    This time 598m (1962ft) straight up. The funny thing is though, I felt fantastic. Feet in same wet socks (it rained all morning) and shoes and wrapped in my rain jacket, I speeded up and over the steep roads. A feeling of euphoria and calm, accompanied by eighties rock on my walkman. It made me think that you only get one chance in life and that you have to make the most of it. I’m lucky that I have realised that, and have a wife and family that are so supportive. I feet spiritually uplifted. Added fuel because in the last few days the lump I discovered that started all of this caper off, which I was told I would have for the rest of my life, has disappeared and also that my blistered feet have healed.

    Must have been a good Half-time chat. From there I would have Road Dog with me on the bike, to the days finish. With the Km markers still moving up and down, still doing strange things to my mind, the last few miles went through an area similar to the Ladybower Reservoir in Derbyshire. Great lake views and a massive dam finished off a memorable day. 625 miles to go…bring it on!

    More tomorrow.
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    Day 24 Sunday May 23rd 2004
    Durana to Miranda 29 miles Time on road 7hrs 58mins 47secs
    Distance covered 679 miles 596 miles to go.

    Hard to find Vitoria, proved completely unfathomable Vitoria to navigate. Most days we don’t necessarily stop where have to camp. As Vitoria only has one camp site on the far side of town (and we had to make the trip as my need for a shower, was now greater than the number of windows that the Crewbus had to open) off we went.

    We got lost big style on the way there (good site incidentally), lost on the way back to the start this morning and then I got lost running through. I know what you are thinking, we actually all pretty good at reading our maps. Our problem with Vitoria, is that the whole city, I reiterate WHOLE city is being resurfaced, rerouted and resigned. There wasn’t a sign in the place. The main road through was barricaded off. I went out on the N102 and found a motorway was being built and with no where to go. I went back into Vitoria…ahhhh!

    With a tweak to our route, avoiding the city centre, I was set off over the Montes de Vitoria. At about 1000m high I didn’t care as long it lead to Miranda. The road was steep and full of bends, but luckily empty of traffic. Apart from some Kamikaze cyclists coming my way downhill at breakneck speeds. They love their cycling over here.

    I carried on and the route turned onto a very quiet country lane, I did not see a car or bike for the next hour. I went through some incredible scenes, reminiscent of the South Downs back home, with large chalk escarpments and rounded grassed hills. I reached a village called Golernio and it took less than 100 steps to go though it. This place was idyllic. After some more hills I had Road Dog for company, until a combined elevenses and lunch at Cucho.

    Sara was off sketching in the market square (very good too) and I filled the gap with a couple of sandwiches a pint of custard. Then with my stomach gurgling, I carried on along the bottom of the escarpment to reach the outskirts of Miranda. The Miranda entry sign, proudly stated that it was twined with Chernobyl, Beirut and Luton*. The road in went through a strange industrial zone and under a hidden motorway bridge surrounded by a gypsy encampment. Hopefully I was too sweaty for rich pickings and as Sara and Sean later put it what would a gypsy do with a plat anyway. It wasn’t long though before I made the City Centre and tried to finish at the Cathedral marked on the map. In the end I finished in what I thought might be the centre of town. Miraculously that’s where the Crewbus had also ended it’s days adventure. The Cathedral…manana.

    Tonight’s stop is in a field in the middle of nowhere. Just corn the buzz of the jenny and the sunset to look at. Monday tomorrow and week four.

    More tomorrow.
    *Some of this bit might be untrue.

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    Day 25 Monday May 24th 2004
    Miranda to Briviesca 28 miles Time on road 7hrs 50mins 29secs
    Distance covered 707 miles 568 miles to go. Marathon 450.

    The last thing that you’d want on your 450th Marathon is for your back to go into spasm. There I was saying only last week just how good my back was and how the Crewbus bed was doing me a power of good. Yesterday when I bent down to picked up the plat I felt a small twang in my lower back. This morning I awoke in full lower back spasm. Unfortunately we don’t have the benefit of any of the following…chiropractor, couple of days bed rest or any Valium. So I’ll shut up and just get on with it.

    Head down and strangely bent over I set off out to Miranda. Today was going to be Coleman v N1. Round 1 was a 13 mile slog to Pancobo. Along the wide hard shoulder of the ‘A’ type road. Monday in Spain seems to be the day when all the heaviest trucks hit the road. On three occasions there were wide loads, wider than my verge and a carriageway. They had a car ahead, and a hundred lories behind. We’re talking convoy good buddy. I leapt or rather limped out of the way and watched them trundle by.

    Coming into Pancodo, the road, river, railway and traffic less Peage motorway went through a gorge all stacked on top of each other on successive bridges. A great feat of architecture. A Chapel hewn into the rock with a single bell tower on the cliff above hailed the start of this remarkable town. Some of the buildings looked like they had been in a time warp from the 14th-15th Centuries. Some were built on stilts, presumably to avoid the floods of the river. Centuries on they were twisted and sagged but looked incredible. Sara and Sean were parked here and provided me with a hearty lunch. Sara had already had a tour of the town and been up the church tower when I got there. She really knows how to explore and must be getting a unique tourist guide as we go along our route.

    Round 2 and back on the N1 and ten miles nearer Briviesca, I felt the need for a cold drink. A garage just outside Calzada looked a good place to top up. It didn’t really look open, but the guy let me in. The shop had four big bottles of Fanta (tempting) 1 can of Burn (Coca cola energy drink) and four big bags of Doritos. Oh and a few car parts. After three weeks without crisps I nearly gave in but I kept my 45 days without crisps going by just buying the can of Burn (70p). The guy wrote down the purchase on a blank pad and as I left closed up for the day. Bemused I carried on.

    The scenery each side of the N1 was breathtaking over the last miles of the day. Especially where there was a large iron Bull a bit like ‘the Angel of the North’ but in this case the ‘Bull of the West’ on top of the hill into town. Apparently there are lots of them so there’s something to look forward to.

    Thanks to my boss Brian Harwood and Anke Molkenthin for their kind words of encouragement today. It does help motivate the old legs you know, especially when it’s raining on the plain in Spain and your back is a bit croaked.

    More tomorrow.

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    Best of luck Rory= you have my total admiration.
    I heard you were running in Sealskinz socks- how they holding up ?

    very good luck and congtrats for getting so far already
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    Very impressed mate, find your reports entertaining lunch time reading.
    Best of luck with the last 500+ miles and even though I am a Scotsman I think you deserve an England win in Euro 2004 (almost said through gritted teeth!! LOL).
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    'Ere another spaniard posting. Also interested in your long run and website. Sent you an email.

    (off we go brave briton etc.)
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    Day 26 Tuesday May 25th 2004
    Briviesca to Burgos 28 miles Time on road 7hrs 48mins 42secs
    Distance covered 735 miles 540 miles to go. Marathon 451.

    Today proved to be a day of true grit and determination. The first half from Briviesca was all on my now ‘favourite’ N1, (I say favourite as it’s direct and one has successive km markers to tell you how far you‘ve gone) and a test of mind over pain. My old back was rigid this morning when I woke and the thought of running 28 miles wasn’t the most sensible of things to do. I say running as in fact after about ten shuffled strides I decided that walking fast in a ‘John Inman’ like style might prove less painful. It worked but I must have looked very strange to the truck drivers.

    I didn’t care and just carried on. If I didn’t stop it didn’t hurt so much, so I just kept going for as long as possible. That was until I decided to try the exercises that my Chiropractor Owen recommends. There’s the top half only press-up and the cat curl sit back. If you’ve had a bad back you’ll know what I’m talking about. Finding a place to do them on a busy carriage way without any sheltered places from the eyes of passing motorists is not so easy. In desperation I stopped on the drive of a deserted house. Grass a bit long, but I didn’t care. My back was killing me.

    What happened next nearly did kill me! I looked up from my second cat curl sit back to find myself surrounded by four snarling Alsatian dogs looking at me as if their next dinner had just arrived. In less than a second my back miraculously recovered and I did my first 400m of the year in a new seasons best. The dogs didn’t chase me, but just seemed startled, probably at my amazing recovery. As a real dog phobic it really represents my biggest nightmare. Yes I know I’m a wus but I can’t help it, it all started when I was frightened by a dog when I was five, ahhhh, sympathy please. What I do know is that my back can’t have been all that bad really.

    Regenerated, it was a late elevenses/lunch in Monasteria de Rodillo. Where it proceeded to thunder/lighting and then rain for start of the second half of the day. Now in waterproofs I wondered why steam was starting to come out of the front of my jacket. I had in fact been climbing the 981m (3220ft) Puerto de la Brujala. A mountain pass with a huge truck stop at the ridge. Here trucks and their drivers refuel in a huge muddy mess of makeshift motorway service type station. How any of the incoming and outgoing trucks hit each other I don’t know.

    I didn’t stop…with the help of 2 Anadin Extra, I could now withstand most pains including major surgery, so it was onwards along the N1 to reach the incredibly busy city of Burgos. Busy with people that is. Quite unnerving after so long on one’s own. With 3 miles to go I ran into town dodging pedestrians, to finish in the city square next to a statue of El Cid. I’ll have to find out more about him, and let you know more tomorrow.

    Sealskinz in wet...life saver!

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    Rory, thanks for the spreadsheet mate.

    You are arriving on Tuesday to Guijuelo, said to be home of the best chorizo and jamon across the land. Which I seriously doubt, but it is surely top 5.

    If you run to, say, Africa... you'd pass along my home town (kms 14 to 18 at your beloved N-1). Sorry but Burgos and Cerrato areas are over 150 miles north and pretty busy here.

    Nevertheless.... go go go!!
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    Day 27 Wednesday May 26th 2004
    Burgos to Peral de Arlanza 29 miles Time on road 8hrs 04mins 24secs
    Distance covered 764 miles 511 miles to go. Marathon 452.

    Well, unfortunately I didn’t find out any more about El Cid, so hopefully someone can enlighten me back home. But I started back at his statue this morning in the centre of Burgos. The only thing about the bigger cities is that I have to be dropped off at the start of each day as there is never a place to park. This means that I am totally disorientated until I see a road sign and the minor road I needed to go on today was going to be incredibly hard to find. What I needed was a sign, what happened next my vicar Peter Gibbs will really enjoy reading (I hope).

    With the pep talk from Sara that it was ‘over that way’ still ringing in my ears, I prayed for a sign. I didn’t see one, but on a bench was a friendly faced chap with a massive rucksack next to him. I went on another couple of steps then something made me go back and make eye contact and said my now usual ‘Ingles’ (my Spanish is rubbish). To my relief a French accent came back from a chap who introduced himself as ‘Dolly’. He then pointed to a large shell on his rucksack which I knew meant that he was a pilgrim, travelling from Santiago to De Campostella (as did my vicar Peter last year). After a lively conversation, where we told each other of our travels, he produced a large format Burgos street map. Alleluia!

    Orientated once more, I carried on out of town on a very narrow and quiet road. My luck continued when I won a Renault. Well actually I found a set of Brand new Renault keys, still attached to a tag with bar code and serial number. I fathom that all I have to do is to find the car or van that they belong to and ‘bobs your uncle‘ I have a new car. Back in reality land, I will hand them in at the next Renault dealer I go past, but I might try and explain that I have won one of their cars!

    Sanity regained during lunch in Presencio, Road Dog (on bike) accompanied me for the latter part of the day. Our list of top sporting moments, is now easily past a hundred mostly consisting of athletics (RC) and Liverpool FC (RD). Our route carried on across vast plains, where fields of Barley swayed in the breeze. We actually stopped and listened to a quite traffic free environment. Something hard to experience back home in the UK.

    From there, the road out of Santa Maria del Campo to the end of the day’s run turned out to be entirely straight, just a long stretch of tarmac that lasted five miles. It just went on and on. Proving a tough end to another tough day.

    Ah well only 18 marathons to go! And we do have Dan and Steve from Piranha Kid (the event’s PR agency) coming out to visit us on Friday in Valladolid where they have promised to bring out with them emergency custard and quiche rations. We also like to add some Heinz Baked Beans please if we can (4 large tins please) Many thanks chaps.

    (By the way if you are wondering…yes, my back is still bad).

    More tomorrow.

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