I was feeling ambitious. I had been yomping up and down steep hills well above 2,500 meters for more than two weeks now, and I wanted to see if this whole altitude-training, red-blood-cell, hyper-fit malarkey was actually true. Incidentally, Easter Island is the location that I originally had in mind when I decided to start this whole Short Runs in Strange Places business, and my running shoes were starting to give me accusing looks again. So I went out for a short jog: from our guest house in Hanga Roa up the hill to the Birdman Ceremonial Village and back. Easy.
A few observations:
- I learned the joy of jogging by the Hudson River in New York. There are no gradients there – sea level, that sort of thing
- Choosing as a running destination the top of a hill that prehistoric men used to climb to prove both their manhood and the vitality of their whole civilization is Not Very Smart
- I’m no Michael Fish, but if you spot the most beautiful rainbow ever, and it is upwind of you, you are about to get utterly soaked in freezing rain
- My rinky-dink New Balance running shoes are deeply technical and lovely, and are designed for running on pavements, possibly moist pavements at a pinch. They are NOT designed for running diagonally up steep grassy hills in the sleet while hurdling gorse bushes
- Large animals poo mightily in handy gaps between said gorse bushes
- Running at just above top speed down slippery red clay roads in the pouring rain wearing aforementioned urban footwear is, erm, “exhilarating”
- My heart rate can still top 180 when the red mist of stubbornness comes down
The outcome? Well, I have no idea if I am any fitter than I used to be, as I never would have attempted something so patently stupid before. Still: just over seven miles; 300 meters up and down; slow at 85 minutes; came home to Lucy covered in mud, blood and soaked to the skin. Epic.
[PS: check out the crater on the satellite photo above!]