So after a fairly turbulent last 8 months I decided that I definitely needed a holiday. Once that was decided what option was there really apart from running a substantial part of the northern Spanish coast line.
The Camino de Santiago is a series of trails which stretch across Europe. They are generally well signposted and hostels you can stay in cheaply "Albergues" frequent the trail.
As I was planning this all last minute I needed to get my kit in a hurry. One surprisingly cheap trip to decathlon later I had all the kit I needed including a 17 litre bag and technical underwear and socks (for quick drying! ).
Unfortunately the days leading up to it were far from ideal preparation as I got various work projects completed meaning I ended up getting 3 hours sleep before my flight this morning and not having much more of a plan than "I'm going to follow the trail".
I landed in Santander this morning. I was pleased with how light I'd got my bag but it was still a lot heavier than I'd ever usually run with. I carried the bottle of Dr Pepper I had on the flight filled with water and ambushed a poor tourist to take a photo.
Unfortunately the trail does not go near the airport leaving me traipsing through a slightly depressing suburban area in order to get out of Santander. Once this was done though it quickly got better with some pretty streams.
Once I found the first scallop shell I was very pleased as this was clear evidence I was on the trail.
When I arrived in the village of Boo I was presented with a choice. Historically ferrymen would take you across the river but with the building of the railway bridge that was scrapped. You can therefore either run 5 miles out of your way south to the nearest bridge OR you can try dashing across the railway bridge on the tracks!
This isn't quite as dangerous as it sounds (apparently almost everyone does it) but definitely gave me a rush of adrenaline.
I took a brief break afterwards as I'd covered over 10 miles. A pub garden where the owners were clearly siestaing (siestering?) letting me use the facilities and relax for 10 minutes.
I should mention at this point the weather.It's warm but far from sunny. The region is more like Wales than what you might imagine Spain is like. Humidity is high though and I found myself very grateful for my Camino de Santiago buff acting as a head band.
I headed off and followed the traditional route rather than the new route. I imagine there must be a lot of pressure from businesses to route the camino near them and from residents to keep it away.
As this route headed past small hamlets I stopped and chucked my water bottle into my bag. This was a revelation. I'd been finding it very hard work until now but losing the water bottle for whatever reason helped me regain my balance and strengthened my legs. I was now running low or sub 9mm for the same effort as 10+ was taking before.
The route for today was almost exclusively asphalt with the exception of scrambling over the hay at the side of the railway tracks and the track themselves. The route was almost never flat. It was fairly mild but consistently up and down.
After passing a big industrial plant at 16 I thought I was on the home stretch. Not quite. The last 5 miles were much hillier than the rest of the route.
Finally I came into Santillana del Mar. A historic little town that seemed a touch too ancient for me. A final effort up the hill took me to the Camping Albergue.
The Albergue system is very impressive. All along the route both towns (municipal), private and charitable hostels are run offering a room for the night. It's very basic but for 5-10 Euros a night you can't complain.
One difficulty is with meals... The Spanish have fairly set schedules for catering. Unless you happen to be in the right town at the right time you may struggle to get a meal. I'm currently waiting (and have been since 5) to get food as the kitchen doesn't reopen into then (they still do beer though!). My clothes have been washed and are currently sort of drying outside the Albergue.
I am shattered and have a big day ahead so that's enough from me. Looking forward to a lot of sleep and then some early miles.