Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Way of Legends - getting to the start...

I find out about races in many ways, on the web, Facebook groups, and of course from other runners. Last year I ran The Last Secret, an ultra race across Bhutan, which I was told about by Ed Chapman at an XNRG event in the UK. The Course Director for the Last Secret was Manu Pastor, who told me about a luxurious, gourmet food and wine sort of a race he put on in Burgos in Spain called 'The Way of Legends'. We would have beds, hot showers, and great food and wine during the event. This was enough for Sharon, after tents, cold taps, and rice in Bhutan she was ready to sign up. I did mention to her that forthe first 5 days we would be running an average of around 30 miles per day but 'food and wine' apparently rendered distance irrelevant so we paid our deposit, then the balance, then filled in some forms, booked some flights, all the usual stuff. we didn't book a bus...

So on Friday 21st of September 2018 we were out of bed at 3:45, in a taxi by 4 am and through security at Stansted Airport by 4:40. This even left time for breakfast before our 6:25 flight. Despite my trepidation at having trusted Ryanair to get us to Madrid the flight was on time and we had some hopes of getting the 10:15 bus to Burgos.

We wandered up and down the terminal several times, looked at a lot of buses that didn't go to Burgos and eventually asked someone where we might find a bus bound for said city. 'Terminal 4', 'Which terminal is this?', 'Terminal 1', 'How do we get to Terminal 4', 'Take a bus'.

So we got to terminal 4 at 10:20 in time to miss the bus to Burgos - or so we thought. In fact the bus was still there as was Joey Sharma who had a ticket for the previously mentioned bus. Joey is an XNRG regular who didn't have the best time in Bhutan but I was pleased to see she was her usual bubbly, happy self and she helpfully pointed out the driver of the bus. 'Can we buy a ticket?' 'No, full', so we said our goodbyes to Joey and another runner called Simon she had briefly introduced us to and told her to tell Manu we would be on the next bus...

We spent some time standing in a queue which seemed to consist mainly of people that wanted to shout out the poor woman selling tickets for reasons we were unable to translate, along with the occasional person that actually wanted a ticket. We finally reached the front where I confidently asked for 'Dos, Burgos', expecting to get two tickets for the 13:15 bus. What we didn't realise is that Burgos is a surprisingly popular destination and that the next bus with seats available was 19:15. If this blog makes you decide to do this race the first piece of advice is book flights and bus tickets well in advance.

By now it is around 11:30 so we have a few hours to kill. Landside of Madrid Airport Terminal 4 is of limited appeal so Sharon went to get tea and coffee while we decided our next move. A quick Google search revealed that there was a Left Luggage office in Terminal 4. It was in fact right behind where I was sitting. The fact it was behind me possibly explains why I walked the entire length of the terminal in the wrong direction before seeing it as I came back to our table...

Bags safely (we hoped) stored, we set off for the Metro. Apart from having no idea where we wanted to go or how to buy tickets a trip into Madrid seemed like a really good idea. After a bit of help we bought one ticket for two journeys and got onto the Metro to Avenida de Americas for no reason other than I thought I might have been there before, possibly in a different city... or country. Anyway it was a nice day so we got off and had a walk in the sunshine, some wine, some food, some more wine until we got back on the Metro (having put two more journeys on our card) at Atocha, the main railway station.

I didn't take many pictures in Madrid but I liked the bicycle covered in flowers

Back at the airport we had one last glass of wine before looking for our bus. Before we found the bus we were found by Börkur, the only Icelander in the race and someone who's dry sense of humour I would come to appreciate over the next week.

The bus journey was comfortable and uneventful apart from a helpful passenger pointing out that the first stop wasn't Burgos and that we should stay on until it was. We took his advice and soon found ourselves being greeted by Danny, the first member of the support crew we would meet.

The three of us got into Danny's vehicle and set off for base camp. Danny told us he was born in the area and that he had done four or five pick-ups already - facts which I think left all four of us slightly surprised when he left Burgos on the wrong road...

Race HQ - the picture was taken the day after arrived but as we arrived in the dark one on arrival wouldn't have been that exciting

Back on the right road we arrived at Casa Rural La Bernada. It was dark, it was past 11 'o' clock but we were still made welcome and food and wine was made available to us. We also met Stan Lee, a Way of Legends legend as he was the only person to have taken part in both previous editions of the race. We were shown to a very nice en-suite bedroom where the effects of a 3:45 am start (and several glasses of wine) caught up with us and we finally drifted off to sleep...



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