According to the old saw, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If so, I took the first step in my current journey (which has involved a good deal more than 1000 miles) at the start line to the Bulldog 25K last August in Malibu. In preparing to tackle next week’s Transvulcania Ultramarathon in La Palma, Canary Islands, I took part in several races of increasing distance and difficulty. The Bulldog 25K is a 16-mile race with a few good climbs in the late summer heat, but it’s a Chihuahua compared to what I’ll face off the coast of Africa.
|The purported author of the famous "journey of a thousand miles" quote, Confucius was actually a mama's boy who never left his hometown in Wang Duk province China|
Following Bulldog, I took part in the Catalina Eco Marathon in November, the OTTC High Desert Ultra (50K) in December and the Avalon 50 Mile Race in January, all of which I muddled through with more or less satisfactory results. Along the way, I squeezed in a climb up the Cactus to Clouds Trail to Mt. San Jacinto, a trot up Mt. Wilson, and a couple of jaunts around Mt. Baldy, along with my usual weekly assortment of runs with the Santa Monica Mountain Goats, the crew from Niketown, Beverly Hills, and Lily the Wonder Dog. On the eve of my big race, I feel relatively fit, brimming with shaky confidence and tired. Not sure why.
|With my pals Rob Handler, Mark Handcock and Stig Petersen at Mt. San Jacinto in October.|
But before I set off on race day, I’ll have to endure a different kind of journey. On Tuesday, I’ll board an early morning flight to O’Hare airport. There, I’ll do my best O.J. Simpson impersonation, scrambling through the terminal to catch my connecting flight to Madrid. In Madrid, I’ll repeat the O.J. bit in pursuit of the third leg of my trip, a flight to Tenerife, the largest island in the Canaries. After cooling my heels there for a couple of hours, I’ll board a Puddledunk Airlines flight for the short hop to La Palma. A 10-minute cab ride should get me to my hotel the Taburiente Playa, ("Taburiente" is Spanish for “fleabag”), approximately 24 hours after I leave home.
|I don't think I'll wear a suit to the airport.|
In La Palma, I’ll have two days to relax, adjust to the local time and practice my extremely limited Spanish (“No problemo, bro.”), but on Saturday morning at the ungodly-even-for-me hour of 3 a.m., I’ll hop on a bus to the Transvulcania start line. At that point, all that will stand between me and the completion of my 8-month journey will be a 50 or so mile ash-strewn path up and over two volcanic calderas.
|The start of last year's Transvulcania|
The most harrowing part of the whole experience will occur after the race. Fifteen or so hours after crossing the finish line, I’ll begin the Great Unwinding—my return flight from La Palma, which replicates my journey to the island in reverse. (Picture a hobbled OJ running backwards). With visions of deep vein thrombosis dancing in my head, I am seriously considering renting a body bag and flying home in the cargo hold.
|Deliver to L. Rosner, Los Angeles, California|