Stage 1.10: Castillo de la Duquesa – Estepona, Spain

In which somebody stops me and asks me something very surprising, I discover an intriguing conveyance, and a pavement is safely fenced off.



The day dawns bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and I set sail for a seaward run. I’m keen to get going, because I haven’t enjoyed last night’s accommodation, and basically can’t wait to leave. However, in lots of places, there really aren’t many choices, so ambience is at times a luxury. This is one of the logistical complexities of such a trip; you can’t simply go to the nearest big town.

For this run, there is a busy road to the north, and the coast to the south, and I am heading east. Running the entirety along the beach would be exhausting (besides, I don’t think it’s possible, route-wise), so today’s puzzle will be trying to find a route through. Like various stages, I run this stage without a formal route planned; my new navigation system is resting, as I haven’t decided whether a subscription is worth it; besides, the voice annoys me. The first part is uninspiring, but safe.
The bridge might not seem like much, but I’m actually very happy to find one; for far too many roads during this trip, a bridge over troubled traffic would’ve been most welcome. I switch sides.
And realise I’ve already pretty much run out of pavement. So, I decide to head straight down to the sea after all. I make my own path, skirting around the back of some large hotel or something, and then climbing the wall back onto a path.
A path beside the sea! Lovely. :) An then to my amazement, something which has never, ever happened to me before whilst running: Somebody flags me down, and I stop; I’d considered simply ignoring them, but I decide to humour it. And to my deep surprise, they ask me for a cigarette. This is not something I can help them with, being in the middle of a run, and I go on my way pondering how on earth I looked like a good person to ask. :P
One of the limitations of mapping systems is they don’t tend to advise you to run through rivers. Okay, perhaps this isn’t a limitation, per se, so much as a droplet of wisdom. However, sometimes it’s simply way quicker, and bearing the burden of a much greater chance of blisters, a lot of fun. :)
I discover a seaside path, which isn’t even listed on Google Maps. I’ve come to expect such omissions, even when the path is wide enough for a Google car. ;) I resolve to give very little trust to Google Maps in future—but equally accepting other mapping systems isn’t a silver bullet, either. I reflect that the best bet might be much like a guide-dog: selective disobedience. So, find a map that at least has footpaths marked on it (my first few tries with Komoot indicate promise here), but then to simply ignore it when I feel like it. (And of course be prepared to have to double-back or climb rocks or something when I’m wrong…)
At this point, the run becomes remarkably easy, and remarkably pleasant. Some sort of path stretches along and along, and the weather is glorious. The kilometres are passing smoothly, and I think to myself that this is one of this trip’s pleasanter runs. :)
At times, the path is quite wide, and comes complete with Narniasque lampposts. This whole section would also be a lovely cycle, for those with wheels under their feet.
Even when it’s necessary to leave the seafront, the pavement beside the road is shady and quiet. It’s also wide enough, which might seem a strange thing to say, but in various places I’ve found very much otherwise: pavements with not enough room for even half a wheelchair to pass, and sometimes with a large telegraph pole put smack in the middle of what little pavement there is. Even walking, I’ve sometimes had to hold on to it to swing myself round, timing it carefully to miss the cars. (I’m thinking of you, Algeciras…)
Running through the seafront of Estepona, there is a broad promenade that runs for yonks. Even with the number of people out enjoying the sun (or perhaps plotting the downfall of the world or whatever else people do on a Sunday), there is plenty of space to pass. I enjoy this stretch immensely. This is how more towns should be. :)
My final resting place is actually a few kilometres past the centre, and this is where I find a sign for a footpath running right to Marbella. Thankfully, I need not go that far, but I follow it where I can.
Time for another brief rest, and a lovely spot to do it in. This is simply a lovely town, and I gain an affection for it easily.
Watered much like a plant, I continue on my way, finding surely one of the most intriguing vehicular conveyances I have ever seen. Sadly, there is no-one demonstrating its usage.
The rivers are usually marked on the map, but they are not always as problematic as they seem. This one, for instance, simply ends part-way through the sand, and no wetting myself is necessary. Towards this latter stage, the trail seems to lead across the beach, but today I’m not too tired for a beach-run, so this is fine. It is an interesting consideration with such routes, though; will your path require you to run some kilometres of sand for the final part of the stage? :)
There is another lovely path which runs alongside the beach for this stretch, complete with benches and bins. But it is fenced off. :P Somebody walks down it, looking at me which what feels to me a certain markedness. I conclude I must have somehow got on the wrong side of the barrier again; considering how easily I’ve done it with military zones, such an occurrence doesn’t really surprise me anymore. But then I run past the end of it, and realise that actually the entire path is fenced in; I am actually the one on the correct side, and the person inside was probably wondering how to escape! I see them turn around, and begin to walk all the way back…
And suddenly, in the final few kilometres, disaster strikes! Okay, not quite disaster, but certainly misfortune: IBS-ly has reared its ugly head, probably because I ate something this morning. I don’t usually eat before a run, but I was trying to combat yesterday’s exhaustion… Within a few hundred metres, I go from merrily running to walking very slowly. This messes me up for a kilometre or two, until I feel better and can pick up the run. Such is life. :)
Rejoining the busy road, still with the sea within view across the field, I reach the end. It’s been fantastic weather, and not too long a trek; despite the latter misfortune, I’ve enjoyed myself immensely, and am not even feeling that tired. Checkpoint. 22.6 km (stage) / 261.7 km (total)