Ever thought what it might be like to put in a tough bit of high peaks/altitude training in foreign climes?
Then read Glyn Fletcher’s account of his, Paul Beeson and Rob Martin’s adventures in the French Pyrenees.
Track runners and dieticians look away now...”...
The Three Amigos on Tour
“The adventure started with the Three Amigos travelling to Speke Airport. Thanks to Paul’s forward thinking and pre-on line check-in we walked through to customs, where I was pulled up for having a large aerosol deodorant canister, which was duly confiscated. I don’t know whether to be proud or affronted at being apprehended for carrying a potentially dangerous weapon by a Scouser in Liverpool!
Soon we were on our flight, Ryanair service to Barcelona. Two hours later in sunny Barcelona airport, we again sailed through customs dragging our tiny suitcases behind us, with the local Guardia waving us through like royalty, and not having to queue by the dreaded conveyer belt like everyone else.
We quickly found our hired car, and headed out of the airport to look for the E9 that leads to the Pyrenees. With Rob driving and Paul navigating, and me relaxing in the back, 2 and-a-half hours later we arrive at our destination of Porta, just over the border in France. A quick dump of the suitcases and it was back in the car to look for something to eat. We found a small café 10 minutes down the road which did a marvellous Pizza & Chips this was ordered in French by our fluent French speaker Rob, which I thought was the highlight of the day, not knowing that Rob was fluent in the lingo. With a couple of beers ordered this was soon dispatched, then it was back to the accommodation for our first night’s eventful sleep.
With Rob on the folding bed down stairs, it was left to Paul and me to share the upstairs room. This sleeping arrangement only lasted one night!! A combination of being woken up every half and on the hour by the church clock chimes - which never quite matched the supposed time - and Paul’s snoring meant a “divorce” was on the cards, with Paul sleeping the next night in the bunk beds on the lower ground floor!
Day one - With a quick trip to the local shop on the first day (Monday) for a few supplies, it was off on our first big adventure, to the summit of the snow-capped mountains. After a steady climb out of the village/hamlet of Porta on marked routes, we were soon at the base of our first 2900 meter peak, with Paul & Rob leading the way and me following behind a steady climb to the summit was achieved, which resulted in some wonderful views. With this done a decision was made on which way we should descend the mountain and head back to our base in Porta. With a bit of rock climbing down and traversing some snow gullies, we soon reached the lower plateaus where the cattle grazed, and then a steady run back in, on the stoned track. The highlights of the end of the run, was to soak our weary legs in the stone cold streams to aid recovery.
Thanks to Rob’s and Paul’s culinary skills, a feast was cooked up after 5 and-a-half hours of running/walking/climbing/jogging. After I had done the washing-up and after the first day’s adventure, another early night was called for, of sleeping on my own, with the company of the dreaded chimes.
Day two started with a short trip in the car at around 8.30am in the morning to another marked route, which only took 3 and a half hours this time, but still with plenty of climbing, and great views again, a drink and a coffee in the local village after was needed, were the hotel owner took great delight in telling us that a race took place on this route every year, and done in a great time also.
Again Rob & Paul cooked a paella for tea, with me once more on washing-up duty. After a game of cards and a few beers it was time for bed and the dreaded chimes.
Day three was another 2,900 meter mountain, another short trip in the car, passing the local ski resorts to the start of the marked route. With a steep steady climb to start with, until we reached an old disused tramline, which then levelled out with a nice gradient, and made it a lot easier to run on, we eventually reached the snow filled gullies. With lots of the running taking place on the deep snow filled gullies, and with the chance of refilling our water bottles with ice cold water, we soon found our way to the base of the highest peak around, standing in front of us was a steep scree slope, zig-zagging its way up to the summit. After about 40 minutes of weaving back and forth, up this steep section, and breathing heavily, with Paul & Rob leading the way and being buzzed by a red helicopter checking out what we were up too, the summit was reached with more outstanding views. The descent took only minutes, with a different route taken, to get back to the car on the marked trails, this run took just over 5 hours, and I for one, was glad to see the car after the three day’s adventure had caught up with me.
A meal at the local hotel with a few beers was the night’s entertainment, with early to bed again for the early start back to catch the flight home. A great time was had by everyone, and thanks to Rob for organising it, I’m sure this will not be the last time the Maldwyn boys will be on tour. (Watch this space)”.
Glyn and Paul in search of a mobile phone signal.
Rob and Paul source the ingredients for the night’s meal. By next year Glyn hopes to have earned his Michelin Star and these two can argue over who washes and who dries.
Glyn Fletcher in front of the biggest washing-up bowl he could find. That must have been some Paella.
Rocky Mountain Way – with beer beckoning (and why not?)
Read the third story in the series of Runner's Tales - "The adoring public"
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Read the first story in the series of Runner's Tales - "A funny thing happened on the way to the Finish"
If anyone else wishes to share with us their stories of heroism, horror or humour (or preferably all three) then please get in touch with Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org