My alarm went at 5.45am and I did my ‘early morning adventure shuffle’ which is to somehow get up, get into my gear, wolf down some porridge and jump in the car whilst being half-asleep. I collected Sally (my good friend and partner in running crimes) and headed off into a beautiful misty morning to Amalfi and the start of the race. It was organised in memory of ‘Rupert’ – no one I know, but apparently he was a long time guide and runner who was passionate about these hills. Since we both have kids the journey is always a great opportunity to catch up without interruption, so Sally and I put the world to rights as we wound out of Naples and over the pass by Monte Faito (1131m) – the park’s the high point and the familiar dark step in the skyline which is visible for miles around.
All the races start in the same way for us: espresso, cornetti, charming bar owners to let us use their toilets and then jogging around, sort of bopping to the loud techno music, giggling inappropriately at lots of men stretching and feeling a bit chilly until the national anthem is played and we’re off. The route took us on a 12km circuit through the heart of Amalfi, along the Valley of the Mills, up a long ascent to the Valle delle Ferriere trail, to Pontone and then back down to the streets of Amalfi. The last few miles were in the tiny alleyways behind the houses which meant running up and down steps – constantly. Put it this way, we weren’t shy around the cakes at the end.
Over the summer I spent four days doing research for walks on these trails so it was great to be back, seeing the winter colours and enjoying the villages without a soul around. Unlike a lot of the runners who are serious mountain athletes, Sally and I do it for fun and a leg stretch – we jog up the steep sections, take photos and nearly always come in almost, but not quite, last. However, there’s a great community of people who race regularly and they are starting to recognise the ‘crazy Inglese’ women who keep turning up – so we have lots of banter and encouragement. Plus, in truth we’re addicted to that runners’ high and the beautiful, off the beaten track places we get to explore.
Here’s a snapshot of the day. The donkey’s were my favourite…(as you can see we were extremely focused on a good time – as in having one – not our watches ;)!!