Hard going at times, I probably ran a third of the route, and walked the rest, I've got a sore bit where my keys rubbed in my pocket, and my thigh muscles now only work going up stairs, not down, but I had such a good time!
Sir Sir James had emailed me directions for meeting up, round the corner from La Latina Metro at 12.30. There were 23 of us today, including four complete newbies (me, an American girl, a Belgian and a Finn) and Black Box, an airline pilot on a 22 hour lay-over, whose solution to jetlag is to outrun it - in company!
We all stood around for a while, introducing ourselves, chatting, and paying for the pre-arranged beer stops. Ever Ready and S----F--- (I'm not writing that down!), the two hares, had already laid a flour trail and organised water bottles, the beer stops, and coolboxes of ice-packed refreshments for the final rendezvous.
Chatting with Kingfisher, El Sordo and Black Box, it became clear this really was what it said on the box: a group of Drinkers With a Running Problem; so even if I wasn't much of a drinker, the fact that I wasn't much of a runner either wasn't anything to worry about.
Not Half Bad called for a circle, explained the basics, drew floury hieroglyphs on the ground for the edification of the newbies, and mentioned the sweepers, who would make encouraging noises for stragglers, or at least point them in the right direction if all the other hounds disappeared around a corner.
And we were off! To the amusement and bemusement of all the normal people who have more sense than to run.
on a Sunday.
through the streets.
(What's the español for duh....?)
We went from La Latina Metro, along Plaza La Cebada (First beer stop? Already?! Don't like beer. Had a coke. With ICE.), across c/ Bailen, through the Daliada (Dahlia Garden), over a fence (!) and down a slope before heading south towards the Vicente Caldéron Stadium (O.K. next beer stop? Yes? No. Fneeargh...), then doubling back along the new river boulevard (If only those trees were a little taller and leafier........), crossing a footbridge near the Puente de Segovia to reach - yes! the Second Beer Stop! (Water. With ICE.).
Then across the Glorieta del Puente de Segovia, where we ignored a shady street, milled around looking for flour spots near the treeless river walkway, decided to cross the main bridge, got to the far side, kept going, realised our mistake, and doubled back to re-cross the Manzanares by another footbridge.
In the meantime, however, the original FRBs* had disappeared into Parque de Atenas on a false trail.
(*Front Running B=%?"/*s - Occasional over-zealous displays of motivation and seriousness are to be expected, but repeated lapses may result in down-downs)
The disappearance of the FRBs had put us BRBs (Back Running B=%?"/*s) (the aged / infirm / slackers) in the lead. Suddenly, I was an FRB! Wow! The feel of the wind in my sweat, the gravel in my lungs, the seams in my jeans......... Thank goodness Black Box and co overtook us in under five minutes, and restored the natural order as we continued north, and into Casa de Campo.
And then we ran through Casa de Campo (actually, some of us just walked, on account of the lovely surroundings and being knackered) and up under the Teleférico to the next BEER STOP.
O.K. So I had another Coke, but I swear two of those could kill you: you'd surely inflate as you got hotter, until you floated off like a weather balloon or just popped.
And thus it was, one hash did what years of encouragement couldn't: I had a sip of Slippery When Wet's clara and decided it wasn't... that... bad...
Don't anybody mention shandy: clara is not the same thing at all! (Lord, next thing you know, I'll be singing ribald doggerel and knocking back penalty down-downs in public parks. Er, actually.... now you come to mention it...) Anyway - not the same thing at all!
Next, across an iron footbridge - that bounced under foot - over the M30, through La Rosaleda, (probably the last bit of running I did) up Parque de la Montaña, past Principe Pío, past Campo del Moro, into the Jardines de las Vistillas, and.........
to the rendezvous. I can't figure out where we were - though I could maybe backtrack from c/ de La Cebada, especially if that whopping great church (yeah, I know, Madrid, whopping great church...) but if it turns out to be the Basilica de San Francisco...
Wherever it was, having left Point A at about 12.45, I got to Point B at about 3. (Heeeeeyyyy...... I did it......!) And there were the rest of the gang - the Grimms, Bandylegs, Two Jugs, Bugs Bunny - chatting in the shade beside a clutch of coolboxes, supping isotonic drinks, beers and softies, and not disposed to be snippy at the last ones home, by which I mean three hounds, and two sweepers.
I'd had a brilliant time. Gorgeous route. Not much power or stamina, but good company, friendly conversations on the flat bits, convivial gasping on the steep bits, and matching red faces grinning over condensation-misted glasses on the beer stops. And I did the whole thing. Coo. I'm going back next week (all four of us newbies, in fact) and this time we'll be heading out of Madrid. If Black Box could get another lay over...
As for the names, well, you have to wait for your name, which is usually accorded you by the other hounds in celebration of something reeeeeeeeeeeeeallly silly or embarrassing that you've done, and even if you never do anything that - erm - impressive, it's remarkable how creative these can guys get. So, everyone ends up with something off the moderately dire to toe-curlingly scatological scale. I really wouldn't mind Lady Muck. Maybe if I invest in a couple of 2 euro tiaras and a diamante water bottle?
There now followed a Secret Ritual.
I could tell you, but then I'd have to sing you something politically incorrect until your ears fall off, and drown you in Mahou.