Stage 1.12: Marbella – Sitio de Calahonda, Spain

In which I am offered two ways to relax, pick a bone about dogs, and discover the way to Amsterdam.

Another gloriously-sunny day. Although I suppose it would be more newsworthy to say when it isn’t… As I leave my accommodation, the water has broken. In many places, this could’ve been a big problem, but along this beach there’s drinking-water. I stop off almost immediately, and refill my recently-purchased hydration-pack. I’ve already grown to really like this, as I no longer have to worry about cracked plastic bottles, or think about all the PVC decaying into my water. I bring to mind an English translation of a sign I saw, saying something like: It is not advisable to drink this water since it is not potable. Which, translating the remaining Spanish, basically says: It is not advisable to drink this water since it is not suitable for drinking. Which explains a lot.

My mappy-friend would like me to spend a pleasant day by the dual-carriageway. So I mute it, and run along the beach. The sand isn’t too deep, but I feel the extra effort pretty quickly. I love beach-runs, and I’m clearly not the only one; I pass lots and lots of runners. (Well, I presume runners, since they’re dressed in running fashion—but admittedly today most of them are walking.) But the extra weight makes sinking into loose sand much more of a problem. I try to follow in the tyre-tracks of Good King Wenceslas, who sometimes drives a car, and sometimes a tractor.
Not all villas are as stylish as the ones I’ve been seeing these last few days. Does the job, though, and the beach around here is far quieter.
The beach feels a little bit like a road, with all the tracks and various walkers and runners. Now and then I change lanes, in an attempt to find a more level surface. One of the problems with beach-running is often the beach is slightly sloped, and this can really tire the muscles of one leg. I counteract it for a while by running with my left foot in the tyre-track, and my right alongside. Somebody stops me, with a big smile on their face. Speaking English, they offer me yoga—or yoghurt, I can’t decide which—for free tomorrow in the nearby beach-bar, if I need to rest. Both free yoga and free yoghurt sound good, and I make a mental note in case I’m in the area.
Just a few minutes later, somebody else stops me. This time the offer is a massage. Except I’m pretty sure this isn’t for free, and besides, I should probably get on with my run rather than dream of massaged yoga-yoghurting sessions.
I’ve actually been struggling rather with this run; I could feel it already after about 4 km. I’m feeling a little unwell, and it’s a bit of a trek. It’s a good job today’s not a long stage. In places, I can see why it’s easier to just go along the beach; the path will presumably get repaired. One day…
My first obstruction, barring dogs. The rocks are easily scrabbled over, with a larger set around the corner taking longer, but posing no difficulties. But dogs… I think I’ve had some sort of too-close encounter with a dog almost every single stage I’ve run. Sometimes they’re friendly, and just think you’re a frisbee. Sometimes they’re a little less friendly, and think you don’t live there. (One of these notions is true.) But for goodness’ sake, if you have a friend of the four-legged kind (by which I mean canine, not human), could you not allow them to run at or chase runners? Without wishing to appear sheepish, it can be very worrying, and regardless causes a runner to slow down or stop or do some stupid dance to get around a dog. And if you’ve just run 10 km or 20 km or whatever, and it’s hot, this is really, really tiring. Thank you. (This applies mostly to small, medium, and large dogs. If you have a hamster-sized dog, I’m just mostly worried I’ll step on it and squash it…)
Briefly, a wooden path. I decide I really like running along these; they don’t waste effort as you’re running along, unlike loose dirt or sand, but have just enough give so as not to feel tiring, unlike tarmac. I’d like to see lots of these all over the world, just for the joy of it. :) They’re good for cyclists, too.
I pass a sign saying ‘207 [km] Cádiz’. And yet, I’ve run about 50% extra to get here. It really would’ve been faster by car. ;)
A path up through the trees. The green makes a pleasing change, and the sunlight in the treetops causes a blend of colours.
Another wooden-highway, for a short distance. A lovely section of coast, with villas built accordingly. I’ve been going a fair bit slower than yesterday, not just because of the sand.
I pass another beach-bar, which is closed. Many cafés and bars I’ve passed have been in fact. I don’t think it’s simply the run up to Christmas; lots of them have signs saying they’ll reopen in March! A collection of signs tells me not only where the mojitos aren’t (because it’s closed), but also that Amsterdam is apparently 1921 km away. That journey might have to wait for another day.
A small beach, and it’s the end of my stage. The weather’s been lovely, and I’m glad I took the beach route rather than follow the map. But I’m also glad it’s the end of the run; it’s not really my best running day, today. But I’m on-track; I hope to get to Málaga in time for Christmas. Checkpoint. 16.4 km (stage) / 298.7 km (total)