I had a great few days catching up with my friend Andy in Brazil and eating steak in Argentina, before being blown along my running route in Uruguay and ending the week in Paraguay
Day 64 – Rio, Brazil, sightseeing
The expected weather for my three rest days in Rio was due to be pretty bleak – downpours, followed by thunderstorms and constant cloud cover. Today, Andy arrived. A friend from home, and a fellow runner, coming out especially to support me for a couple of countries. By some miraculous means the clouds disappeared just in time for Rio to show us its full beauty. Christ the Redeemer, with a backdrop of a clear, haze-less blue sky. We also visited the Sugar Lump (as it really should be called), the various different bays, the incredible mural near the Olympic Park and the lagoon. Another tasty steak later and it was time for bed. A warm sea breeze with Copacabana bustling away constantly, I slept well, knowing I was again by the sea. It really is a great beach. So clean, tidy, hardly any shells or stones, let alone seaweed or litter. No idea how they keep it so clean.
Sadly no drones were allowed at the top of Christ the Redeemer, so we hunted for the perfect secret spot to get a shot of the big man. We dodged plain-clothed fun-spoilers for a while before bumping into another nice chap with DJI drone credentials, promptly followed by Miss DJI herself. Realising that drones can fly we managed to finally take off from a safe spot a little further down the mountain. A rickety ancient railroad took us up and then inevitably back down the 700-metre peak. Hot, humid and crammed with camera phone-wielding tourists (me included), the more elderly of the carriage holding their large tablets with outstretched arms, as if this is the only possible way to take a photo. Mum, this is you by the way. FYI, you don’t need to close one eye to take a photo.
A brilliant day – no running, no packing, no flying. Ahhh, rest. And the best bit, tomorrow is even more rest. I don’t know if I’ll be able to cope without a run.
Thank you for the support. Keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for a few more videos. Rio is a great place for some pretty shots.
Day 65 – Brazil, couldn’t resist a run, even on rest day
The sunrise and the morning shimmer of the sun on the sea was too hard to ignore. Andy and I scoffed down a very filling breakfast, covered ourselves in sun cream, slipped our trainers on and then dashed out the door looking like snowmen, into the heat of the day. White and ready to melt. 8am and it was already 30°C. Andy hadn’t run along the coast yet, and so a gentle 5 miles warmed up the legs. Oh boy was it great to run on fresh legs. I felt like a springer spaniel at the moment the catch of the lead is released; and off we went. Not wanting to ‘de-fresh’ his clean running top for our official run in Buenos Aires, Andy thought the next best choice of top was his white cotton alternative. This was soon covered in a mix of sun cream and sweat, sticking to him like glue.
This run was made extra special because the road that is sandwiched between the Lego-like buildings of the inland side and the huge wide stretch of the white beach was closed – two carriages of three lanes of traffic. Three of these six lanes were closed to cars today. It being Sunday, they allow cyclists, runners, skateboarders, rollerbladers and the old ladies who go in for ‘speed walking’. You know the kind of speed walking, where arms are moving faster than legs, upright, with noses pointed to the sky. This was such a brilliant idea. The locals and indeed tourists like us flocked in our thousands. Literally thousands. One of the best 5-mile runs I’ve ever done.
Later, after lunch in a beachside cafe, we strolled along the shoreline dodging excitable kids, and row and rows of beached sun worshippers. At the far south end of the beach we picked up surfboards and paddle boards and went to play in the water. The water was still and rather strange, juxtaposed with the hectic and full, beach brolly-lined 4 km stretch of Atlantic coast. A few great shots with the drone, live music by the beach, some fresh fish, and we were another day down. Having done almost nothing I had planned in terms of packing up and sorting my stuff, it was time for bed. But not before packing.
Day 66 – Brazil to Argentina
Hard saying goodbye to Rio, but steak awaits. Andy and I had an early 4am start to leave for the airport. I’m naturally waking up at this time anyway, but my body has started to rest properly. The result of this phase of recuperation is repetitive yawning. I guess my body is missing the several hours of endorphins every two days. No worry, we will soon put a stop to that. Once through the queues for departure and having scoffed down the average to poor lounge food, we hopped on my 40th flight of the trip. Argentina, here we come. This was the longest flight of the trip so far, excluding the initial leg to get over to North America. Just under four hours and we touched down. Forty minutes of slow-moving immigration queue traffic allowed me to make a few calls and catch up with Adrian. Adrian Koryo, who you may not know about, is the very kind and helpful guy responsible for sorting my North Korean leg of the journey. Koryo Tours has organised everything to make North Korea possible – flights, itinerary, and even letting me stay in his home in Beijing before and after as a point of entry.
THE KORYO TOUR PACKAGE: Koryo Tours is the primary tour group that operates to support non-North Korean nationals taking part in their official marathon. Check out what’s on offer and maybe you will want to come along. Last chance. Me and a small group will spend four days visiting the country, running the official marathon plus a few extra special trips which Adrian is putting on. Just Google Koryo Tours Running The World 196 to find out more.
After a phone call to Beijing we were collected by a nice chap called Noel (spelt ‘Edmonds’ but pronounced ‘Christmas’). Noel had driven 60 km just to pick us up and drive the 30 minutes to our hotel. Legend.
We arrived at the hotel. Our eyes were shutting, and it was clear we were both ready for bed. But not before steak. Obviously. Tomorrow we run!
Day 67 – Buenos Aires, Argentina, Marathon 29
What a brilliant morning running. I had Andy, Noel and his mate Alex by my side. The four of us were up before the rest of the city and, of course, the sun. Andy and I sat around the small bar in the hotel lobby, picking at three semi-stale pastries with a cuppa, part of an early attempt at breakfast. Noel collected us carrying 5 litres of water on his back. The beep beep of our watches, a quick yawn, and off we went. We ran through the city as it woke up and were finished by just gone 11am. We ran through parks sheltered from the city traffic, quiet, with a cooling breeze. I had hoped that Andy would experience the heat of the past few months but miraculously, it was only 25°C.
Apparently dog walking is taken to the extreme here in Buenos Aires. One person to 10 dogs seemed to be about the right ratio. We also ran past an oddly sinister zoo – the zoo that we later found out is in transition from a zoo to, well, not a zoo, had animals roaming free. Completely deserted, boarded-up gates, run-down attractions, with just the occasional giraffe or ostrich strolling around. The Obelisco is supposedly the most photographed thing in the city, but we saw so many far more interesting bits and pieces. Like a huge mechanical flower, the Floralis Generica. About the size of a double decker bus, with four metal flower petals that open in sunlight and close at night, and completely hayfever-friendly.
A highlight of the run was the nature reserve nestled into the coast of the city. What we were looking at, though, felt like the sea, a vast seascape; it was, in fact, the river plate. We made our way back to the hotel to complete the 26.2-mile circuit crossing over numerous 10-lane motorways. Mad traffic, but still not a patch on Haiti. A hug goodbye to Noel and Alex, and job done. Marathon 29 of 196 complete. This was such a chilled, relaxing and enjoyable run. It felt like 10 miles not 26. I sadly leave Andy tomorrow and move on to my next country, but not before another enormous steak at Don Julio restaurant. A spot-on day. Thank you for all the support. Please keep it up.
Day 68 – Argentina to Uruguay
Half-way through South America on Day 68, with Marathon 30 tomorrow.
What a view! The famous Recoleta cemetery was staring us in the face. We were lucky to have a brilliant, and in fact, free hotel, overlooking the entire plot. Imagine Gothic horror at sunset. Incredible. Large, grey, stone sculptures casting dark and beautiful shadows across the maze of graves. I could almost feel the texture of the stone from the balcony. This, the resting place for Eva Perón, Nobel Prize winners and the granddaughter of Napoleon; needless to say, I felt small and in awe. We watched the sunset over the mesmerising space as the shade extended and wrapped the graves in darkness. It was calm, still and silent, but said so much.
If you fancy coming to join me for a run or just to support, please do. I run slowly, so no excuses that you’d be too slow. It’s all about the enjoyment, not the pace. Having my mate Andy around for a few days was super fun, and perfect to have a little break from back-to-back travel and run days. I’m feeling good. I may be a little excited to tick off my first two continents. Crazy to think that I’ve nearly completed the left-hand side of the world. Just the massive middle and the massive right to come! The length of this trip is starting to hit home, and your support is keeping me going.
Tomorrow will be Marathon 30 already, and my legs are still ticking over. Please keep donating. Pretty please. Just a little goes a long way. I’m hoping we will reach the £25,000 and the 10% mark soon. I am behind on my fundraising. We are 15% complete in terms of countries and not quite 7% in fundraising. Thank you if you have donated. Maybe you could ask your friends too.
Andy and I had a last super together and then made our way to the airport. Luckily, the folk in the hotel reminded us we weren’t leaving from the same airport. Andy has to go back to reality and I’m on to Montevideo.
Day 69 – Uruguay, Marathon 30
QUESTION: Answer me this, where has been your favourite place to run? In a race, training, or just a jog? Comment and tag please.
Today’s post is entitled ‘I’ve got wind!’ My first windy run. When I say windy, I mean very windy. A coastal route, too, which made matters worse. Still, great fun, but I could have done without the sandblasting on the backs of my legs and face. I chased my hat along the ground and over a road for about 200 metres, much to the amusement of passers-by. I was covered head to toe in sand and sea salt after the four-and-a-half hour and back marathon. I was on my own; hardly saw anyone, actually. The water of the choppy ocean was breaching the sea wall and on to the road. This caught me out a few times, leaving me squinty eyed and with a face full of sand and salt water. On the way out for my first 13 miles I was trotting along with the wind lengthening every other stride as it pushed me along nicely. I was basically floating with the occasional side wind taking my legs from underneath me, like a rag doll in a tumble dryer. On the way back I was bent over, leaning heavily into the gale. She wasn’t giving up. I gave myself a bit of a pep talk and battered on. Every so often I found cover for a brief break – more from the sound of the wind in my ears than its strength. The ocean was actually really beautiful today. Although brown and rather industrial-like, the water was powerful and motivating in a way. The fact that it was difficult to see through the tiny slits between my eyelashes as my eyes strained to see where I was going was also quite a challenge.
Then the sky cleared, and the wind dropped at mile 25. Typical, eh. The rest of the afternoon was lovely and virtually breezeless. The surfers had had their fun in the morning so called it a day soon after I finished the marathon. Made me want to get into the sea. I wonder if anyone has swam around the world? Let’s not get ahead of myself.
Finally, if you haven’t shared my website with your friends and family, please do. It has all the photos and videos of the trip plus a cool interactive map. Check it out.
Day 70 – Uruguay to Paraguay
From one guay to another guay. Oh hello airport, haven’t seen you for all of 48 hours. Before I tell you about my long day that resulted in me getting to sleep just four hours before my next marathon, I have to tell you about the airport in Uruguay. I think I’m becoming a bit of an airport connoisseur/snob. Carrasco in Montevideo was so clean, tidy and simple. I may have just got lucky, but everyone was helpful, I didn’t queue for anything, and the building was a work of art. Not some stupid, over-complicated structure, but simple and perfect for the job. I think I’m in love. Fave airport so far. Man, I love simplicity. This, however, was where the journey peaked. I had a five-hour layover back in Argentina. This turned into seven hours with delays. Because I was ‘in transit’ I was ushered through to the gate without an opportunity to use the lounge for sleep or food. So, with little Wi-Fi and uncomfortable seating, my tried and grumpy state increased to a strong 7/10. (At this point I’ll acknowledge that I’m incredibly lucky and this is all rather trivial in the grand scheme of things, but in my world, at the moment, sleep is like crack, and I’m going cold turkey!)
I was due to arrive in to Paraguay at about 9pm, with a 5am alarm for a 6am marathon. I arrived into Silvio Pettirossi International Airport at 10.30pm, where I was expecting a driver to take me to the hotel. Hotels occasionally offer this service and it works pretty well, when it works. After 10 minutes of roaming around the Arrivals hall I gave up the search for the mystery driver and went to get cash to pay for a taxi. Grumpy level just went up. I arrived at the hotel about 20 minutes later, only to realise, just after the taxi had left, that I was at the wrong hotel. An hour later, I was finally in the correct place and getting into bed. My room, however, was in the optimum position to ensure little or no sleep due to very loud noises and a deep dull baseline from the bars and clubs opposite. Damp clothes laid out and my eyes finally closed… briefly. Boom, my alarm sung it’s evil tune: 5.15am.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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