Thursday, May 16, 2013

Favorite Runs: Gando

Back in the day, I was fortunate to go on a work trip to the Canary Islands for a few weeks.  On two different occasions.  Life is tough.

Specifically, I was working on Gran Canaria.  And I discovered a pretty fantastic (and TOUGH) running route while I was there.  Near the airport there is a barren spit of land that doesn't look like much on GoogleMaps, but is in reality quite a nice big hill/small mountain.  There are dirt roads and paths that go to the crest of the mountain, and then zig-zag down the far side along the top of the rock cliffs which eventually meet the ocean with a much less drastic decline at the end of the peninsula.  It's a heap of rock and dirt, with some interesting ruined structures at the top of the hill, and absolutely amazing ocean views.  The back side of the mountain is more friendly terrain-wise, but still has gullies and ravines that keep things interesting.  I also love the route because it's not overrun with people.  Sometimes there were one or two other runners sharing the trails with me, and sometimes I was completely alone.  Running alone suits the place, with its rugged, wild, raw beauty between sea and sky.

On my first run, I went straight up the mountain first.  It took less than ten minutes on a dirt road with lots of switchbacks, and completely smoked me, but the view from the top made for fantastic recovery.  I then was able to carefully pick my way down the rocky path on the other side and skirt the coast all the way back around to where the peninsula joins the main island.  At that location, there is a gorgeous stretch of sand beach which would have been a lovely, secluded spot to relax.  Alas, I did actually have to work.  I also noticed on that run that I was the only person running counter-clockwise on the route; every other individual I encountered was saving the mountain for last.  So I tried that the next time.  It did make for a faster run, because I was going uphill on the really rough, unstable terrain and downhill on the graded dirt road.  But I like getting the worst part over with sooner, so taking out the mountain in the beginning remains my preferred sequence of events.

I also found that from the top of the mountain, you are above the airport and all the aircraft taking off!  It's fantastic!!  The traffic pattern usually had aircraft taking off starting on the southern end of the runway, so they were airborne by the time they hit the northern edge of the runway, which is closest to the mountain, and then they curved around over the open ocean to the north of the peninsula.  It's pretty neat to have a bird's-eye view of jets taking off, and then wonder if the pilot can see you, this solitary stranger waving from the top of the edge of the world.

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