Friday, May 23, 2014

Trans Belgium (almost!)

A varied, mostly enjoyable day of running from De Panne (near the French border) to Bruges (near the Dutch border).  With various detours we managed 40 miles with Jenni and Anneke - along the coast and through the cities of Nieuwpoort and Ostend (where lunch was shrimp croquettes and salad washed down with two cokes). The last 15 miles were fairly gritty along the busy N9, but entering the old historic city of Bruges was a splendid moment.  Our hotel was harder to find than it should've been, but an eventual soak in a tub after a beer made all right with the world.  Dinner was delicious - the Belgians do great food. Full marks for their shrimp pasta and profiteroles.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trans Belgium

Today's Dover-Dunkirk ferry journey deposited us in possibly Europe's least attractive industrial park, but as soon as we crossed the border out of France, things magically improved - green fields, cows, that kinda thing.

We checked into a sparkling new Ibis hotel in De Panne just over the border (so astonishingly pristine - two women were actually sweeping the underground parking garage floor), and soon met up with our dear Dutch running companions, Jenni and Anneke.

De Panne is a tidy, well-heeled seaside resort with nice beer and restaurants. Tomorrow we will run about 60km (37 miles) to Bruges via Nieuwpoort and Ostend. On Saturday, our route is not yet determined, but we will aim to finish in Knokke-Heist where we will hope to board Belgium's superb Coast Tram back to De Panne.

Good times!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Selfie? Or footie, maybe?

Thanks to the good folks at Hi-Tec and XNRG for a fine new pair of V-Lite Infinity trail shoes:

I sadly had had to dispose of my Pony Express race shoes in a Burger King waste paper bin two weeks ago, after yomping through many miles of New Forest mud. But it turned out that I had been the speediest in the pre-OAP age category. And so now their pristine, Vibram soled, clementine coloured replacements have arrived, as if by karmic magic.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Pony Express Ultra stage races

Ultra stage races don't get any better than this:
A) when they're ony two days long;
B) when you don't have to run more than 30 miles a day;
C) when the weather is cool, the skies are blue and sunny, and there's no wind;
D) when your 80 or so fellow runners are a wonderful bunch of people;
E) when the race organisation (Neil Thubron / XNRG) does a superb job;
F) when dinner, breakfast and tea & cake are all delicious;
G) when you get to run through some amazing British scenery filled with wild ponies;
H) when you get to share the experience with your brilliant running wife, who only got lost once;
I) when you glow with pride when your wonderful friends Tina and Sandra complete their first 30-mile journey, and are still smiling at the finish;
J) when you don't get lost;
K) when you have the pleasure of beer and chilliburgers in a pub afterwards.

Only three things in the negative column would be the day 1 mud (had to throw away my shoes last night as they were finally beyond hope), gym snoring (well, that did used to be me, so I suppose I can't complain) and falling hard after 1/2 mile on day 1 resulting in bloody scrapes and a sore hip (eejit!).

Location:New Forest, UK