Hi, in case you didn’t know, I am the other runner from what runners do, and here’s a recap of my first few months being in Europe (well this is about Galicia mainly).

Well where can I start… 3 months of running in northern Spain, let’s start with that – it was like I never left Wellington, New Zealand – well almost, except here people speak Spanish or Galician and not English, and there are no flat whites.

Last September (2014) I left to Europe from New Zealand. My first stop was Germany for the Berlin marathon, which I had been preparing for over the New Zealand winter. Berlin marathon is “the” marathon in the world marathon calendar that everyone anticipates a record to be broken. And 2014 September 28th was indeed a historic day for marathoners worldwide, as Dennis Kimetto of Kenya broke the marathon world record with a time of 02:02:57 (That’s 2hours 2mins and 57seconds).

Orsi and I joined the 35,000 plus runners from all over the world, and ran the course in 3:26:37. Berlin is flat as a pan cake and the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic. You can read a bit of a recap of the marathon over on my blog at 74running.com.

After Berlin I headed to Galicia, Spain – Galicia is in northern Spain. When you think of Spain you’d immediately think of warm weather with beaches and sun all year around. You would not think of grey skies, almost constant drizzle and lush green farmlands. Welcome to Galicia. I arrived in A Coruña, one of the major cities of Galicia, which in terms of size is kind of like Wellington but with a larger population. (Apparently, although it’s also sometimes called La Coruña, it’s a big NO NO to call it that if you live in Galicia.)

Pablo Picasso grew up in A Coruña but he left when he was around 11 years of age to become world famous. There is also rumour that Fidel Castro has relatives who were originally from Galicia.

Anyway, it took only a little time to get adjusted to my new running surroundings, with some easy runs around Torre de Hércules and the waterfront to the millennium tower and back (big pointy granite thing reaching up to the sky). With  wind and, more than often, a bit of rain made me feel like I never left Wellington.

In the first weekend of October, just one week after the Berlin Marathon (6th of October 2014 to be exact), there was a major 10km road race being held in the city of A Coruña. This was a popular race (Coruña10) with well over 5000 runners taking part in the race. We had already signed up for this race before Berlin, as this was to be my introduction to the fierce Galician running community. Galicians take their running seriously, there is no holding back when they are out on a race course.

And I was able to run a 10k PB of 39:18. That’s about a minute and a half faster than my previous time. Slow compared to most standards, but for part time runners like me that’s a good self confidence boost, especially straight after running a marathon the previous week.

Coruña 10k
Coruña 10km – Being chased or chasing by Spaniards – becoming a recurring theme now. Coruña10 – October 2014.

Next up we went to participate in a long standing race in the historic city of Santiago de Compostela. This was a 12km road race running through the city and ending in front of the world famous St James cathedral. The course was a little bit hilly but it was a great race with loads of people cheering everyone on. “Venga chicos!” is the way to cheer runners if you are ever in Spain watching a race.

I must say that in Spain for about 10-20 Euros as part of race registration you end up getting value for money including a pretty good quality training shirt, food and drinks at the end of the race. The best thing is your results are immediately available after the race via Champion chip by scanning your QR code printed on your number using your smart phone. No more waiting for “official results” like we have to do in New Zealand, and end up sometimes never getting actual times recorded.

A few weeks later after the Santiago trip we ended up in Porto in Portugal. Just a 3hrs drive across the border, and we were there to cheer our friends on at the Porto marathon. This time we signed up for the “Family race” which was a 16km race run on the same marathon course but of course finishing after 16kms. This was a great event and we had a good time. Oh apart from the bit where we got absolutely drenched in rain at the finish supporting our friends who were running the marathon.

Running around Porto
Running around Porto

We also joined in with our friendly Wellington Running Meetup group on November 27th by hosting and organizing the Galician version of Worldwide Companion Run 5km fun run. We got loads of runners to come along and we had a great time joining the global community of runners who ran with us all at the same time.

Worldwide Companion Run 5km - Start at Torre de Hercules
Worldwide Companion Run 5km – Start at Torre de Hercules

In between the last few months we have participated in numerous races and also orienteering events. Orienteering is a bit new for me but with a great navigator who keeps me in check I must say I do like it a bit. More often than not I get told off for “running away” and get asked “Do you know where you are on the map?” to which I dutifully reply – “Yes dear, I am right here next to you”. 🙂