Stage 1.11: Estepona – Marbella, Spain

In which I am well-behaved, thus rewarded with much concrete, see some remarkably ornate buildings, and have some company.

Today, I’m heading to Marbella. It’s not too far, about 20 km, but I resolve to follow the map. I’m trying out the voice-navigation again, and this time get on better with it, despite cringing every time the voice attempts a pronunciation of a Spanish street name.

And so, the first section is just roads, roads, and more roads. Although there’s always somewhere to run, even if just squeezed in beside the barrier, there’s really very little exciting about this route. The day is hot, but thankfully the exhaust fumes aren’t too bad. At bridges, the small path alongside becomes squeezed between two barriers, with not even enough space to wheel a bike. I follow this route, but there’s really not much to report, for the first 10 km or so, except that going along the beach and wading through rivers is far more fun—albeit more effort. ;)
At some point a path opens up, but this is mostly just to lead past the shops, it seems.
One of the only nice views in this first stretch: running towards the mountain. It makes a change from barriers and lorries, at least. :)
Despite the lack of travel-brochuresque magnificence, this first half of the run has been easy-going, and I’ve made good progress. But it’s time to head to the sea! :) I turn south and take a road running alongside a golf-course.
And at last reach the beach. :) From here, there’s a path leading along. I suspect that I could’ve joined it sooner, but I’m deciding to do as I’m told, today. Mostly. ;)
Another promenade. These are remarkably fun to run along, and clearly I’m not the only person who thinks so; runners and cyclists become a frequent sight, and walkers (the un-undead kind) are out in abundance.
This really is a lovely section of coast. This whole area is called Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun), and I can see why. Not bad for December!
I pass some remarkable villas and hotels, the excess of which makes me raise my eyebrows. This is a proper setting for Bond-type films on the Mediterranean.
Crossing a river—using a bridge!—the reflections are lovely. (Note to lovely self: I seem to say lovely a lot.)
And in places where rivers get close to the sea, the effect is just as pleasing.
For a while, I have company! There is someone out for a run in red, taking a steady pace. Then there is a far older person in orange, going faster, but now and then turning around and running back along a stretch. I overtake them, but I can’t put much of a distance between us. When I stop for a rest, they overtake me. This continues for a while, and we act as pacers for each other. This is such a great place to run, and everything around is so perfect, I really want to open up the speed and go for it—but my backpack won’t allow such a thing, and I don’t want to burn out. :)
The route gets progressively busier as Marbella approaches, but there is still plenty of room to pass. Various people look at me with interest as I pass, and I guess I can’t blame them; I can only recall one other similarly-loaded person I’ve passed along the way in these stages, and they were walking. As we passed each other, both of us turned around, presumably eyeing up how much the other person was carrying. :P I reach Avenida del Mar, having really enjoyed the run. It is, perhaps, one of the most straightforward and least complex stages I’ve run, and I’ve made it in around half the time of some similarly-laden distances :! . Checkpoint. 20.6 km (stage) / 282.3 km (total)