Saturday, November 24, 2012

Running the Camí dels Bons Homes: Part 1

Running the Camí dels Bons Homes (a.k.a. La Ruta de los Cátaros / Le Chemin des Bonshommes / GR 107):
A joint run report by Alicia and Maria

Part 1:  Berga (Queralt sanctuary) to Gósol, approx. 22 miles

We had an ignominious start to our big run.  Maria was chased out of the hotel breakfast room (it was apparently too early), we were ignored by a large group of heavily lycra-clad mountain bikers in the hotel lobby, and we took a taxi from the hotel to the trailhead!  It was either that or an uphill hour-long walk; Maria and Carles both knew how I feel about unnecessary walking.  

After being dropped off at the Queralt sanctuary and spending a good few minutes hunting around for the exact location of the trailhead, we started running.  Carles was perturbed that we were planning to run fast enough to be taking our jackets off, and, in typical Carles-sandbag-style, he claimed that when he goes for a training run in the mountains, he "dresses like a pro" but "mostly goes for a walk."  Apparently this strategy has served him well, since he's finished both the Arrowhead 135 (many times) and the Badwater 135 with his patented marxa atlètica.

The first few miles involved perfect running on smooth, non-technical singletrack.  

There was lots of fog at first, but also friendly cows, friendly gossos (dogs), and forests. 

I was able to drool over some good-looking crags, many of which weren't even developed for climbing, which seemed horribly unfair considering they would have all been the best crags in Wisconsin.

The trail and scenery changed often over the course of this day.  We covered everything from forested singletrack to rocky ascents to dirt road. 

We had one bigger, long climb of about 600m during which Maria gave us both ridiculous trail names...

Other than the one longer ascent, it was mostly small hills in this day's section of the route.  The only part of the section that we didn't like was the last stretch before the village of Gósol, which mostly involved muddy cowpaths through forests and cowfields.  But, soon enough (okay, not very soon, the day's run took us nearly 6.5 hours!) we were at the hotel in Gósol, our stopping point for the day.

We had decided to run the route in stages, and also to stay at hotels each night so we wouldn't have to run with sleeping bags or camping gear.  It was definitely the most pleasant way to see the route; a non-stop ultra style run would have meant missing out on much of the best scenery during the nights!

After a nice lunch and welcome hot showers, Carles had to drive back to Barcelona, and Maria and I spent the afternoon napping (her) and reading the paper for lack of being able to sleep (me).  This was followed up by what turned out to be the best dinner of the run: salad, a massive bowl of escudella, perfect tortilla de patatas, and plenty of good wine.  After all, we wouldn't want to have burned any net calories, right?

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