10 Things I Think About the Latsagien Itzulia
1. Basque Carrigtwohill
I think Ustaritz is very like Carrigtwohill, the only reason you'd live there is because it's cheaper than living in Biarritz/Cork. It has lots of derelict apartments and a colossal old church. I didn't see any pharmaceutical companies so maybe it's different.
I think that it's terrible that doping is illegal in France. For this reason I didn't bring my Ventolin with me as I was afraid of being arrested. I think this cost me some time in the race. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
I think I'd be broke and eternally late if I lived in the Basque Country. They have tolls on the roads every 20km, they're as frequent as the food stops on the Ring of Kerry. The ones in Spain are manned by Spanish people which means there are long queues. In France, they are unmanned which means there are long queues because of English people who have no euros.
4. Hop Time
I think that John O'Connell would have approved of how early we arrived at the race. I don't think I've ever turned up 3 hours before the start of a race. I had to allow time for potential Spaining in France as the French have wierd laws about athletic events. You have to be certified by a doctor to run a small road race. They were happy with my Athletics Ireland card and the fact that I wasn't English, so I was allowed run. We used the spare time to visit the colossal church and watch a wierd combination of hurling, handball and quidditch.
5. Warm Up
I think that I was too confident after my warm up. I was convinced that I was going to win. There was nobody warming up. This normally means you are the only serious runner and are going to win. Then I got to the start and guys with legs far more shaved and tanned than me turned up. There was even a guy taller than me. This was scary.
I don't think I've ever seen such a casual start. Thank god Clotilde taught me French so I could understand the start procedure. There was no line, just a casual countdown in French. There was lots of jumping the gun. No one cared.
I think Macron is right, French labour laws need reform. The start of the race was unlike anything I've ever seen. I tore off as I normally do. One guy came up beside me after a kilometre but didn't pass, then a whole group of Basques crowded around me. No one wanted to do any work. Eventually three tall tanned shaven legged guys appeared and formed some sort of trade union and agreed to work together. I was left in fourth with another bunch of Basques. I don't like trade unions.
8. The Mur
I don't think I've ever run up such a steep hill in a race. I hadn't really checked out the course before the race as I prefer not to known what's happening and I didn't understand Basque. The route itself was 50% trail, this wasn't advertised. After about 6km there was a wall of a climb, they seem to like throwing these into races abroad, I like it too. It wouldn't work in Ireland, people would complain. The hill was very hard.
9. A Gauche
I think I lost fourth place because of going the wrong way. Once we crested the top of the Mur we came to a junction. I went a droite, the Basques went a gauche. I quickly realised my mistake and turned around but I lost a few seconds, this was crucial as once I was away from the group of Basques a trade union was quickly formed and they suddenly started working together. I had no hope, perhaps trade unions are a good idea.
10. The Spread
I think the concept of an approximados race has spread to the Basque Country. The race was advertised as an 11km race, it was 10.3km last year over the same route. I think it was somewhere in the middle. I don't think it mattered. They had a lovely outdoor spread afterwards, apricots, prunes and fruit cake. I'm sure that there will be no complaints on the Basque version of the Cork Running blog. No one did a warm down except me. Macron will fix this.