Spain

Alpinismkurs och snöstorm i Sierra Nevada

Ett lyckat äventyr innehåller för mig alltid inslag av nya utmaningar som ska övervinnas och gärna ny kunskap som ska inhämtas. I detta fall är det bestigningen av Kebnekaise nu i maj som kräver nya kunskaper och praktiserande på berg med snö och is. Istället för att åka norröver åkte jag söderut 10 dagar till Sierra Nevada i Spanien.

Efter kursen och de extra dagarna på plats så känner jag mig trygg i mina nya kunskaper och förberedd för utmaningen att bestiga Kebnekaise i maj på ett säkert sätt och sen ner igen. Kommer bli grymt! Sista veckan i februari åkte jag ner till Sierra Nevada med min träningskompis Vilma. Fyra dagar kurs, vila en dag och sen spendera tre dagar med att bestiga de tre högsta topparna i området.

Foto Spanish Highs - Fred and Vilma in the Bedrock

Grunderna
Kursen och upplägget anordnades av Spanish Highs som är ett lokalt företag grundat av Richard Hartley från England. Vi hade två instruktörer under vistelsen, Richard och Jens Foell. Riktigt bra! Vi spenderade första dagen på relativ låg höjd och i typiskt svenskt sommarväder för att vi skulle kunna tillgodogöra oss alla moment innan vi gav oss upp på drygt 3 000 m, kyla, snö och blåst.

Foto: Spanish Highs

Att knyta in sig i ett replag på rätt sätt och hantering av repet är verkligen en konstform i sig. När man tar sig framåt i en alpin miljö ska man använda underlaget, klippor och det som finns för att säkra varandra. Man lägger repet på ett sätt runt en klippa så att man kan säkra den som kommer efter. Ett samspel i hela replaget som kräver en hel del övning och kommunikation.

Säkring med "Italian wedge"
Hjälm, klättersele, rep, karbiner etc. Nya knopar och olika sätt att säkra varandra, glaciärräddning, fira ner, klättra upp och många moment som måste nötas in efter kursen. En ny och spännande värld av kunskap.

Isyxa, stegjärn, stavar och snöskor
Nästa dag upp till snön! En viktig del i att ta sig fram på is och snö är att ha rätt utrustning beroende på omständigheter. Bra kläder med flera lager och möjlighet att reglera så man inte börjar svettas. Blir man blöt så kyls man ner fort och svårt att bli torr igen när det är minusgrader. Inte bra alls. Så lugnt och fint samt anpassa klädseln hela tiden är bästa metoden när man rör sig upp och ner.  

Fredrik och Vilma

Sen tillkom nya saker. Isyxan var oerhört användbar som hjälpmedel för att kontrollera snön, göra sittplatser i snön, få bort is, säkra, och stoppa ett fall(!). Sen var det dags att öva på att ramla och stoppa ett fall med isyxan.  ”Ramlar du så lyft fötterna så inte stegjärnen fastnar så du börjar tumla utan kontroll”, sa vår guide Jens till oss. Sen visade han och vi övade på olika sätt att stoppa ett fall med isyxan. Upp, ner, upp, ner och upp igen. Bara att nöta på.

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”Ice axe self arrest” heter det och går ut på att med isyxan få stopp på ett fall oavsett hur man ramlar. På rygg, mage, huvudet ner eller fötterna ner. Det enda gemensamt var att man skulle hamna i samma slutposition och alltid ha fötterna upp! Det här kommer jag öva på hemma i de brantare pulkabackarna helt klart!

Upp på Pico Veleta på 3 394 m
Dag tre efter lunch begav vi oss uppåt med stegjärn, packning och isyxa och slog läger i ett obemannat ”refugio”, en enkel ouppvärmd hytta i sten med sovplatser av trä. Den låg knappt tvåhundra höjdmeter från toppen av Pico Veleta, som var en av de tre topparna vi ville bestiga.

På väg upp till vårt baslägerEfter att ha fixat iordning våra sovplatser begav vi oss vidare uppåt för att nå toppen och hinna ner runt solnedgången. Det är verkligen speciellt att komma upp på en topp. Stå där och blicka ut på allt runtomkring gör mig bara glad och varm inombords. Men det gäller att komma ihåg att det bara är halvvägs, det gäller att ha energi att komma ner igen på ett säkert sätt.

Pico Veleta

Ljuset i kombination med isen och snön var magisk uppe vid toppen, svårt att beskriva i ord men känslan jag bär med mig är att jag vill tillbaka dit för att uppleva det igen. Vi tog oss ner till vår sovplats, lagade middag och hoppade i sovsäckarna. Morgondagen skulle bli tuff och lärorik.

Ut på iskammen i stormvind
Det skulle bli en tuff dag berättade Jens när han kom tillbaka efter at ha kontrollerat bergskammen där vi skulle ut. Vinden blåste i 15 m/s och det var en rejäl isansamling som kommit under natten.

Vi tog på oss utrustningen, gick ut och knöt in oss. Sen började vi arbeta oss ut längs kammen lugnt och fint. Det stupade verkligen utför på sidorna men meter för meter tog vi oss fram och det var verkligen tufft att ta sig fram på isen, tänka på alla moment och samtidigt ha koll på allt runtomkring.

Slutprovet

Första gången ute på en bergskam som dessutom var täckt av is (!) med stegjärn och isyxa. Pulsen slog högre och jag fick påminna mig att andas lugnt och ta det lugnt. Viktigt att lita på utrustningen och göra allt i rätt ordning.  Vinden tryckte på, isen var obarmhärtigt glatt men stegjärnen och isyxan fick bra grepp och det gick bra.

Jens och FredrikVår guide konstaterade att det var tuffare än vanligt och att vi hade gjort bra ifrån oss. Kändes bra, men helt klart är att det är mycket kvar att öva och lära. Ska bli kul! Vi tog oss ner, tillbaka till hotellet och en hel vilodag innan vi skulle ut på tre dagars praktisering.

Höjdrädd jag? Inte längre
En kraftig snöstorm drog oväntat in och vi fick anpassa vår plan. Så är det med berg, vädret skiftar snabbt och man får köpa läget. Ingen toppbestigning den dagen utan vi begav oss till Los Vados och praktiserade ledklättring med en 20 m replängd upp för en 300 m hög via ferrata utan vajer.

Jag har under större delen av mitt liv varit rejält höjdrädd . Jag fick då direkt pulspåslag, svindel och lite panik. Men sen jag började utsätta mig för lite höjd och senare började klättra inomhus för ett par år sedan så har det sakta blivit bättre.

Los Vados

Nu stod jag där vid foten av en rak bergvägg med vår guide Jens längst fram, Vilma i mitten och sist jag. Tankarna for och jag tog första greppet och började klättra första metern, bara 299 m kvar. Någonstans 200 m upp och med 100 m kvar att klättra insåg jag att jag inte längre hade en okontrollerbar rädsla. Ingen panik. Respekt för höjd absolut, men ingen rusande puls och ingen svindel. Riktigt häftigt! I mitt fall stämde det att det går att träna bort höjdrädsla med tålamod och under kontrollerade former.

Fredrik och Vilma på väggen

Har med mig ännu en positiv erfarenhet, nya kunskaper och frågor hem. En kurs i ledklättring inomhus står helt klart på vårens program!

Upp mot toppen i snöstormen
De sista två dagarna med vår guide var det Mulacen, den högsta toppen i Sierra Nevada som stod på programmet. En dags vandring upp till ett bemannat refugio, Poqueira, för att sen dagen därpå ta oss upp på toppen och sen hela vägen ner till  vår startpunkt där vi lämnat vår jeep. Snöskor, stegjärn, isyxa, hjälm, sele, rep och stavar i packningen.

Det är svårt att fånga på bild hur hård vinden var eller hur kraftigt snön slog in i ansiktet som nålar. Men jag kan lova att det kändes oavsett om det syns på bild.  Bara att dra ihop huvan och gå på.

Mot Poquiera i snöstorm

En riktigt bra erfarenhet att mala på och uppleva kontrasterna av ’snällt’ och ’hårt’ väder om vartannat. Det märktes att vi hade mer vana dessa dagar än när vi började kursen. Framme! Känslan av att komma in i värmen och få sitta ner till lagad mat var fantastisk. Snön piskade utanför i blåsten och vi åt middag inomhus med en sprakande brasa i bakgrunden. Gött mos helt enkelt.

IMG_5289Stormen tilltog till orkanstyrka högre upp och vi ändrade planen. Vi åt frukost och inväntade att vinden mojnade något och begav oss nedåt. Mulacen kommer vara kvar och vi besöker toppen en annan gång.

Fredrik och Vilma på väg nerMärkligt med berg, så beroendeframkallande!  Två timmar i kraftig snöblåst på väg ner och helt plötsligt så kom vi ner till sol och behagligt väder. Väl tillbaka var vi rätt trötta och det var verkligen skönt att få sträcka ut sig på hotellsängen och få sova en eftermiddagslur. Vilken upplevelse vi haft!

Capileira

Summa summarum – Jag vill tillbaka igen!
Vi har haft det riktigt bra och jag kommer åka tillbaka och upptäcka mer av Sierra Nevada! De tre topparna vill jag absolut bestiga men även upptäcka mer av naturen och området. Bra mat, härliga människor och ett magiskt område. Hör av dig om du funderar på att åka ner så kan jag absolut dela med mig av tankar och tips.

Pico Veleta 3 394 m

 

My Adventure – Crossing Borders, Fundraiser Result!

This wise man in a village in Asturias asked me why I did what I was doing. A good question and after a few seconds I told him about Crossing Borders, the fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and how I wanted to bring attention to their work in order to engage even more people. I am glad I met this man, the answer to his question stayed with me during my adventure and helped me when the going was tough. 20140727-115823-43103231.jpg

330km in 8 days, I must have been crazy!! This has been the toughest challenge I have undergone so far. At times I seriously questioned what I was doing. It was tough but it was also a great experience. All the positive feed back along the way and thinking about the good cause, kept me going. Looking at the end result of the project and the fund raiser makes me want to go out again.

The final number collected to the emergency fund of Doctors Without Borders was SEK 72 700 via the Crossing Borders fundraising page!! Together we can truly make a difference!

My adventure, Crossing Borders, has brought attention to their work and inspired others to either become monthly donation subscribers, to send in extra gifts to their cause or even start their own fund raisers!

Crossing Borders managed to engage 10 000+ people through different channels like Doctors Without Borders, Spanish Tourist Bureau, Supporting Sponsors and more. Thank you all for spreading the word! 

This week I met with Antonia Danielsson and Anna-Karin Modén at Doctors Without Borders in Stockholm. it was really good to meet them and to be able to present the project and the results we have achieved. It was a happy ambience and I tried to answer all their questions about the expedition and preparations. We also discussed possibilities moving forward. So stay tuned!

Anna-Karin Modén, Fredrik Hjorth och Antonia Danielsson

THANK YOU!!
A special thank you to all of you who have participated in the fundraiser. I could not have done this without you!

Supporting Sponsors
SIX Financial Information
Ström2
Twitch Health Capital
MJ Training Club
Presentationsteknik.Com

Participants
Ullink S/A
Johan Aronsson
Emil Rimling
Ragnhild Hjorth (Lovely mother :-)!!)
Sabrina Bou
Eva Hjorth
Annelie Krepp
Johan Magnusson
Kristian Nylund
Otto Elmgart
Calle Gothnier
Jan-Peter Larsson
Thomas Djurfors
David Bull
Anna-Maria Hjorth
Johannes Hjorth
Anders Hjorth
Jessica Backlund
Clas Hjorth
Lotti Knowles
Maria Sellberg
Pamela Stenström
Elsa Kvist
BirGitte Jönsson
Jenny Nilsson
Carin Huss
Malin Wallegren
Daniel Swenson
Erik Svensson
Petra Svensson Gleisner
Martin Andersson
Kia Szutkiewicz

Crossing Borders, Adventure Report!

I have been home for two weeks and have had time to look through my notes, pictures and messages. I am still recuperating from the strain from the adventure so I take it easy when I exercise. However, I am in a generally good condition and have no pains or problems. Just need to pay attention to the recuperation phase and rest up.

When I think of what I experienced, I start smiling and I want to go back again. So many great experiences as well as hard and challenging moments too.This warm feeling I feel is a good sign!

Fredrik

Crossing Borders – Summary
I trail ran from Oviedo in Asturias to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, 330km with 8 300 height meters in 8 days. That is an average of about 41 km a day. All in all about 7,8 marathons. I am grateful to my body for allowing me to have completed this expedition successfully. And to all of you cheering me on along the way. Thank you!!

The Original Way

I set out to experience the the very first route that king Alphonso II walked in the 9th century when the news of the discovery of St Jacobs grave reached him. Little did he know that 1 200 years later, today, 220 000 people each year would follow his example and set out to Santiago de Compostela from different starting points across Europe. Everyone with an individual motive and reason. This year I was one of them.

Arrow!

Fundraiser – Doctors Without Borders
I think we can all make a difference. Therefore I dedicated my adventure, to Doctors Without Borders as a way to raise awareness and funds for their great work in some of the worst disaster ridden areas of our world.

So far we have managed to raise SEK 63 700 through the fundraiser! This is so much more than I could hope for and I am so grateful to all of you for chipping in!!

My supporting sponsors, SIX Financial Information, Twitch Health Capital, Ström2, MJ Training Club and Presentationsteknik have all been a great part in this work by helping in spreading the information about Crossing Borders, the fundraiser and also contributing to it. So has all of you who has shared the information and also made donations. This would now have been possible without you!! Thank you!!

Did you meet anyone on the way?
I have met people from different continents, countries, walks of life, ages and backgrounds. When I read through my blog again last night, I realized that I have even more stories to share and more people and encounters to tell you about.

Niclas and Nicolas

I know I was away for 8 days, but it feels like it was much longer with all the impressions. When I reached Santiago de Compostela it felt like I just started the day before. As the days went by I had a hard time discerning them from each other. Taking time to take pictures during my journey and to write my diary in the blog every morning was a big help. I noticed that I took many more in the beginning and less as I got tired towards the end.

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I have seen great views over the landscape in Asturias and in Galicia. I Have crossed mountains, valleys, rivers  and gone through dense forests.

Clouds

I followed lovely paths with storybook qualities. Countless tunnels created by the green foliage in the forests I passed through. This is the typical view or picture from the Camino.

Forest tunnel

It was tougher than expected, more beautiful than anticipated and surprisingly according to plan with just a few offsets. At these moments were when the preparations during Spring came into play. All those hours of training, preparations and planning gave me a lot of extra room to improvise and to maneuver while being out on the trail. The training at Haglöfs Adventure Academy has been put to the test, and passed!

What was hardest?
The hardest moment was after I had arrived to Castro day 4 and after completing 45km that day and I was tired. I looked at the itinerary for the next day and realized that the following day I had at least 45km in front of me again. This affected my mental state a lot and I can still recollect the feelings I felt at that moment.

Tired Fredrik

Another hard situation to cope with was at the end of each day when the distances on the map were not corresponding with the path. It could be an extra kilometer or 3km. These unexpected distances are short in relation to the full day. But at the end of the day they felt like forever and I found them very hard to cope with mentally.

The last day was the first day it rained. It started early evening as the sun started to set. In combination with a sidewind it created a huge contrast to the warm days, which I was used to. It felt really cold! I had decided to keep going and to push to reach the Basilica this day. With less than 10km left I had to make sure that I was in constant motion and kept the stops to a minimum. I kept focused and reached the basilica in Santiago de Compostela at 23:45 that evening!

Rain and dark

What was the best or the memory that sticks out?
Hard to pick just one, but I would say that the day when I went to Castro via Grandas de Salime from Pola de Allende.I climbed uphill sides and crossed mountain ridges and went all the way down to the river and then all the way up again.

On top of the world

The whole day was full of contrasts and spectacular views. Lots of height meters and a long distance.

Embalse de Salime

I was alone on the mountain side in the forest with no one in front of me and no one behind me. Just me and my backpack. It was amazing.

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What did you eat and where did you stay?
Along the paths there were villages with bars, restaurants and places to stay. I had documented where I could get what. So I knew how long I had between the places where I could get food, something to drink or stay over night. I ate normal food but had cravings for salty and fat thing. Eggs, bacon and french fries became a favorite. I had roughly a daily 4 000 calorie deficiency. I focused on making sure to also eat good and healthy things to eat. I counted on my ”storage” around the waist to supply the energy. This worked well for me and this way I did not have to force myself to eat all the time.

Eggs and bacon

During the days I had dates and nuts with me as extra energy and mixed in minerals and electrolytes in the water. Whenever possible and not too tired I filled up my Camelback and made sure to drink a lot when I had the possibility along the way.

Refill

Since I needed my rest with the strain from the challenge, I had decided to book simple hotels and an hostel (albergue) along the way for the first five days. Then I booked the last three places to stay day by day based on the form of the day. This way I could rest up properly and had a good start each day. I met great people at these places. Some of them I caught up with during the day as I ran past them. Good energy!

New friends

What was in the backpack?
I carried everything I needed for my expedition on my back. The satellite tracker was on top of the lid. The total weight of my backpack and running gear was about 6.7kg (about 14lbs). I filled up with 1,5 liters of water every morning so all in all I carried 8,3kg. Good thing was that I could stop for the day whenever I needed and I had all that I needed right there with me.

Haglöfs Gram 25

Gear

Being alone on this adventure implied risk. In order to mitigate this and as a safety precaution I had doubled up reserv equipment and simple supplies in a suitcase (I named it Bob). This way if I lost any of my equipment or broke something, I could replace that with things from the suitcase. It was sent on by courier to each destination. If I lost my backpack or broke something, then all I had to do was to get to the next stay of the day.

How did it feel to arrive to Santiago de Compostela?
It was a great feeling to arrive and realize that I had made it! It was hard to finish the last kilometers, but I did it! II was happy and tired when Sabrina came to meet and join me for the last kilometer.

Arrived

The next day in the city was very different from being on the trail. I was not used to have so many people around me. Here’s what I wrote in my diary about this day.

What would you do differently?
There are a few things I would change, but not that many. Next time when I take of my socks to check for blisters I am going to put on a ”compeed” on the beginning blister even if I ”only have 20km left”. I was tired at the time on day 7 and my logic was out the window. This will be a routine from now on.

The tools for documentation and blogging needs to be used at home in everyday life so that I have all apps installed and everything setup prior to being on the trail. Sounds so obvious, yet I missed this one.

Planning, preparing, training..
Many of the people I talk to thinks that training was where I dedicated most time. I did train diligently, but this was just a third of my work preparing for the adventure. The other two thirds were planning and preparations. I put together a complete project plan with a risk analysis and everything. Then I had to try out the gear and test everything so I knew exactly how to use them when needed out on the expedition. Same thing with knowledge and skills. First get the knowledge and the practice on how to apply it.

I did a field test in Asturias in June where I tested everything. This gave me valuable insights and let me adjust my gear. Here’s the article where I describe this.

This way I created a stable foundation for when I needed to improvise. Essential for reaching the finish line smiling. At the basilica

What is happening next?
Right now I am still thinking and processing what I have experienced. I know I want to to do something again, but not exactly what. Suggestions are welcome. I have a few running competitions coming up, and then my official goal for 2015, to complete a long distance triathlon, Ironman. This will require dedication and time, but I still want an adventure or two like the one I have experienced. This is a very addictive experience and I long to go out again!

Adventure

Crossing Borders, Day 9, Last day, Santiago de Compostela

Waking up the day after in Santiago de Compostela, my first instinct was to get ready for another day of running. I was trying to remember the distance for the day when it dawned on me that I was not going to run this day because I had arrived to Santiago de Compostela!

A mixture of joy and sadness came upon me. Happy to have reached my target, but also sad because it was over for this time. I did my morning routine of going through everything and then getting ready. Still it felt different, no running.

Feet were feeling ok, blisters under control. No muscles torn or ligaments hurting. But I did have a funny way of walking on my stiff legs.

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Busy streets and pilgrims arriving all the time. I was struck by the fact that there were so many people and all very happy. We ran into a group of singing wanderers just arriving. Beautiful voices and lovely people.

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The center of all activities were in the old part of the city. Many small streets full of people visiting, arriving and also some leaving to continue on their journey. Amazing contrast to be in such a crowded environment after being alone out on the path for eight days.

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Seeing the basilica in daylight was impressive. It was huge! Wide building and tall towers. 220 000 people from all over the world wall, ride or bike here each year. Not always a spiritual reason, but all with one thing in common, to reach this church.

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Inside there was the golden centerpiece with the figure of St Jacob in the middle. Behind it was a small passage where the people could enter to embrace or hug him for a blessing. On the sides of the church there were many chapels for prayer and contemplation.

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Time to go to the Pilgrimage Office with my credential. The woman behind the counter asked me why I had done this journey, ’Was it as a physical challenge or more of a personal or spiritual reason.’.I told her about the adventure, Crossing Borders, running the Camino Primitivo and about the fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders. I thought of all that I had experienced and seen and concluded that it was both reasons. She went through my stamps in the credentials, verified the dates and places. Then she signed a certificate for me and Congratulated me on the conclusion of this journey.

There it was, the official completion of my expedition. It was now officially approved!!

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Outside again, smiling, time for lunch and to celebrate the completion of Crossing Borders’ objective to reach Santiago de Compostela in 10 days by trail running the 330km Camino Primitivo. I managed to do it in 8 days in a safe and controlled manner. Felt great!!

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A full day of rest and recuperation was much needed. Much more than I was aware. That evening I slept well. Next day we left to go back home. The adventure was now officially over.

So grateful for all the encouragement and support, which I have received before, during and now after my expedition. The donations to the fundraiser have been heartwarming. These are much needed for the work of Doctors Without Borders. Thank you!! Wish I could hug you all!

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And remember if you want to go to Santiago de Compostela, just follow the yellow arrows and the sea shells. Buen camino!!

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Crossing. Borders, Day 8 – Melide to Santiago de Compostela

I had estimated about 53km and about 1 000 height meters between where I was and my final destination, the. Basilica in Santiago de Compostela. Arriving to Melide on day 7 was good and Ieft me with 3 days to complete my expedition.

Sabrina, was going to arrive in the evening by car, so if possible I wanted to meet up with her in Santiago de Compostela. However, If I felt that I would need to stop on the way, then there was always Saturday to make the last distance. I had a plan.

I had sore muscles, I was tired and the feet needed attention. I cleaned the area around the blisters and put on Compeed. Put on a clean t-shirt, a pair of clean socks and switched to shoes more suitable for both trail and asphalt running. I felt the energy as I set out.

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From Melide the camino connected with the French Way (the most famous one) and I quickly found myself on a new type of trail with wider and much more prepared paths.

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More people , groups and bikers on the road here compared to where I had been running the previous days on the Camino Primitivo. Also more possibilities to eat and drink on the way.

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The weather was good, potential rain and cool air. Perfect for running. i pressed on and focused on covering the first 14km to Arzúa, where I had decided that would stop for something to eat.

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The forests I passed all had a similar look to them. Felt like being in a mythical place or in a fairy book. Then every now and then someone offering something to drink or wishing me a good day.

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I stopped as planned to have lunch. Legs were tired and the feet too. i set out to my next check point, O Pedrouzo, 19km away. On the way a biker passed me and then a second one. A minute or two later I heard a runner behind me. He came up next to me and we started talking while running. As it turned out, His name was Victor and they were from Brazil and the bikers, Thais and Raphael, were his support team. Their team is called Correndo no Mundo. Really friendly guys and it was good to have someone to run with for a while.

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They stopped, we exchanged contact details, wished each other the best and then I continued onwards. More forest and the path winded up and down over the hill sides.

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I kept going, walking uphill, running downhill and keeping the running at low intensity. Mixing the two was good for the legs and for my head. I was getting tired and my thoughts were moving slower and slower.

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Drinking and adding energy by eating dates and nuts became the routine. I kept smiling and going with my focus set on reaching my target.

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I continued and i could feel that the rain was about to start. I stopped to put on my rain jacket. All the other things in the backpack were inside a waterproof bag. The air was getting much cooler.

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I continued in the rain and passed another hillside with less than 10km left. More fields of corn. I passed the airfield of the city and continued. Not far now!’, I thought.

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But the running was slow and my feet were complaining. I had no shooting pain, so I focused on technique and on reaching the Basilica. The sun set and I turned on my head light as I pressed on. Still raining.

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I passed through the last village on a hill where I stopped for a quick coffee and a bottle of water at a bar. Yet again, lovely people and the cheered me on. I was close now, 4km. It was cold and as long as I moved I was fine.

I entered the city, followed the shells engraved in the pavement. Right by the old town I met Sabrina, who had backtracked the shells to meet me. It was great to have a welcoming committee come and meet me! Extra energy again, one more kilometer to go!

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We walked together and I know she asked me many things, but my brain was not responding. I was just focused on getting to the plaza in front of the church where I could shoot of the last satellite position from my satellite tracker on top of the backpack.

We reached it, I sent out my position, verified it was received and The journey from Oviedo had come to a close.

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A total of 330km and 8 300 height meters in eight days. Still have a hard time believing it. So many impressions, encounters and experiences.

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We went to a restaurant nearby for something to eat, drink and to celebrate the completion of the adventure! I entered with the gear on, but i can assure you that hat and lamp were removed shortly after this picture.

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I am not sure what I drank, but Ido remember the dish, yum! This concluded this day before a night of well deserved rest. Thank you all for support during the day and all encouraging messages!

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Arrived!!

I arrived to Santiago de Compostela last night before Midnight! I was received by Sabrina and she joined me for the last kilometer, which felt like forever. Legs heavy but still willing to move forward.

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Then in front of the basilica, off with my backpack to send the last GPS coordinate via the satellite tracker for this adventure.

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In total I have covered 330km in 8 days!!

During the afternoon I received reports from the fundraiser, Doctors Without Borders had posted an article on Facebook, which received many positive comments! People sent in donations and sent me messages. What an energy boost!!

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I will publish my report from this day (day 8) tomorrow.

Crossing Borders, Day 7 – Lugo to Melide

My plan was to leave Lugo mid day and to reach Melide this day and I knew that I had a tough day in front of me. I was fearing more asphalt on the way. Energy and water was fine, as well as where I could replenish my supplies and have something to eat.

This day I did 53km and about 1 000 height meters.

Weather was warm, 23 degrees in the shadow. The hot weather training came in handy and I knew How my body would react. I just had to be disciplined with drinking.

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Legs were heavy and I started to make my way down out of the city. i quickly reached the countryside and the views became more open like in Asturias. Lots of green!

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How do you mentally handle that you have more than 50km in front of you? I divide it into small targets of 2, 3 or 5km. I use the same method whatever distance I run. First target is to reach 5km, then a place for a coffee around 9km. Then I compare what I have left with other distances during the adventure. I eat a date every two km and I have small routines going on to keep my mimd occupied. Then after half the distance I start a count down.

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And above all, smile! If it starts raining, then a loud ’Yes!’ Is so much better to keep the spirit high instead of a quiet ’no…’. Counting smiles, not miles and enjoying the moment is the best medicine. Of course there are hard times, but they are easier for me to cope with when I smile inside.

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The path took a turn into the forest, most welcome with the cool air in the shadow from the trees. The green tunnels has become a signature of the camino. Magical.

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Inside the forests the paths were mostly gravel or trails. Outside it followed roads more and more. Hard roads. Feet started to hurt and a burning sensation became apparent under the front part of my left foot.

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The views helped to make me keep my mind set on the destination and all the messages and encouragement from all of you were an energy boost. Smiling and onwards sticking to the plan.

There was an option between a short and long scenic route along a Roman road. In my condition. I decided that the shorter would be wiser today. I looked at the map, i knew where to go. Yet I ended up taking the longer route. After reaching the next intersection with the camino again I stopped for a proper break to fill up in energy, minerals and liquid.safety first! I turned out of the village onto a field.

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Into a forest again and a hill. Ireached a village and while having something to drink and some crisps I met Mapi and her dog.

I walked with them across the mountain side to Hospital de las Seixas and realized that she was the friendly person mentioned in the guide book. Great person and had I not taken the wrong turn, we might not have met.

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I said goodbye and continued, i still had another 12km to cover until I reached. Melide. The views helped and just one more uphill climb and then downhill all the way.

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Sun started to set and. I picked up my pace. Left foot had a burning sensation and legs were tired. Just a little longer and then rest.

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I arrived to. Melide and passed through town to where. I was staying. Tired and happy when I arrived. Big smile!

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Shower and checking feet. One blister under the front part of the left foot. Not broken, which was good. A small one in the right foot on the same place. I would tend to these the next day. A late dinner before sleeping.

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Camino Primitivo, Crossing Borders, English, Haglöfs Adventure Academy, Outdoor Passion, Spain

Crossing Borders, Day 6 – O Cádavo to Lugo

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The main impression is that the closer I come to Santiago de Compostela, the more they have paved the path with asphalt. If there is one thing I fear, then it is asphalt under my trail running shoes. The combination after a few hours is hurting my feet and cause burns and blisters.

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I tried to stay on the front foot and keep the technique, which worked quite well. Tired legs, but no pain in my back. So far no blisters, which is good! Funnily enough I feel my arms tired too. No poles today.

This day I covered 33 km and about 500 height meters uphill.

Warm weather and lots of sun, I was literally melting and drank all the time. It is important to have a lot of water and to plan where to fill up. I had checked where I could refill the Camelback and also where I could get hold of things to drink. I mixed in mineral and salt tablets in my water.

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There was one climb and then mostly soft down hill. Nice feeling when. I knew that this one was it for the day.

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The views on the way out were spectacular and boosted my energy. How can all be so green and the sky so blue!

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Following the shells is easy when you see them. However, more than one pilgrim has walked straight by without seeing them when they are really tired. This has happened to me more than once during my camino and. I know it will happen again. Good thing is to have a map and a compass. This way it is easy to navigate and get back on track.

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I kept a god pace and took the opportunity to stop for a proper lunch in order to fill up for the energy deficit I have been feeling building up. Slow pace and walking uphill is my thing.

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The hard surface under my feet started to push through the shoes. Kept my mind on positive thoughts and the cheering in from friends and family was really helpful.

I passed through many villages and the locals were so nice. Always with a ’buenas tardes’ or a ’buen camino!’. I wish we were more like this at home. Like the openness and happiness of this country.

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The path left the road to turn into tunnels of green forest with cool air. Every time i was grateful and enjoyed each step on the softer ground under my feet.

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Two villages had vending machines, very appreciated! I stopped at both places for a drink and something salty to eat. Perfect timing since it was almost 15km between the bars on this stretch.

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I passed fields of corn as I approached Lugo. Soon done for the day. Felt that the body needed to catch up on the rest from the tough effort since Friday, six days of continuous running does have an effect on my physique and the psyche.

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Arrived and happy as can be! It is the same feeling as after completing a long race. There is a joy mixed in with almost crying. A warm deep joy inside. Especially since I know that. I am not just doing this for myself. There is a higher cause to help,others in need.

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So after a much needed shower, washing of clothes, I got the biggest hamburger I could find. Then some blogging and catching up on Facebook before I turned off the lights.

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Camino Primitivo, Crossing Borders, English, Haglöfs Adventure Academy, Outdoor Passion, Spain

Crossing Borders, Day 5 – Castro (Grandas de Salime) to O Cádavo

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The days are beginning to merge into one long journey and memory. Being in motion all day, eating, preparing the gear, sleeping, writing a report and then out again to the next destination. Thank you for all your engouraging messages, they are needed!!

And thank you for participating in the fundraiser! This is a pure boost of energy when I see the donations come in. Keep it coming and together we can help make a difference.

This day I covered 49km and about 1 500 height meters.

I was the last one out and Nicole at the Albergue in Castro made me breakfast and then saw me off. Such great people!

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As I set out the sky looked like there could be rain. Not a real problem, but it would slow me down.

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The rain never fell but I did get a nice and cool wind for a while. Very welcoming since this would be a long way. I started up again and the legs started to complain. Mostly the right ankle, but with care and some stretching I managed to keep it happy.

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On the other side of the hill, the sky started to turn real blue, azul! Path turning down the hill and I went down the path and ran into Patrick and Magda from Belgium.

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We walked to the next bar and stopped for a coffee and some pintxos. They had been out for more than two weeks and were still full of energy.

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I passed more people from the Albuerge where I slept and we cheered each other on. Everyone is so nice! I caught up with Beatrice, my room mate from the night before. Big smiles and a ’Buen camino!’.

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I continued on and the paths today had a mix of gravel, forest paths and some asphalt roads. Mostly soft ground though.

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After a lunch stop in La Fonsagrada I continued on and encountered a fountain where I refilled my Camelback pouch with fresh and cool water.

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More beautiful views. Bliss..

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In Galicia the symbols of the shells are turned in the opposite direction that in Asturias. Had to pay attention when I got tired.

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Last 5km under way and it took me along these hills, up a ridge and then a downhill stretch into the pueblo. I was tired and wanted to reach my place of rest so much.

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I met a boy and his dog on the camino. In my tired state I associated to the post apocalyptic movie from the eighties with Don Johnson. We walked a bit and talked before I pushed on.

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From the top of the slope I could see the village and after a last push I arrived. Another day completed and still smiling.

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