Trail Arribas do Tejo - to remember and repeat
It was awesome!!!
All 30 km were absolutely lovely and very diverse, all parts of it had some special charm, and there was not even a small stretch of the course that I would have wished to be over soon - on the contrary, I said to myself 1000 times that I have to return here for running next year, and even sooner for not running. There is always something special about running along water, being the great Tejo or some small creeks, and we passed several very different interesting bridges. The path led us to overwhelming Castelo do Belver with a magnificent view, and the castle was seen from many parts of the course reminding us of a broader perspective - from the historical point of view as well as an orientation point within the course. Because of the rain in the last weeks the nature was all vibrant and colorful, for me it was especially interesting to see so much alfazema, its color and strong fragrance accompanying us for kilometers and kilometers. Photo story from Jorge Cancela captures very well the pleasant spirit of the course and the day. And the photos of Foto-finish prove how EVERYONE was smiling all the time, really, it was just a lovely lovely day!
I think this was my first Saturday running event and actually for me this would always be the preferred day for an organized run, but Sundays are probably much easier for the organization to prepare everything needed. And while on many Sundays there are several running options and sometimes it is hard to decide where to participate, some events are lately being cancelled for financial reasons. But for this Trail Arribas do Tejo the registration was completely free of charge, the organization was based on a positive attitude and good will, with total success - the organizers and everyone contributing to the event deserve sincere congratulation and appreciation. Everything was smooth and pragmatic and unpretentious, and it is amazing how they managed to provide us with absolutely everything needed (and beyond!) without charging anything for the registration. I almost felt bad but definitively humbled for being served so well for free, because we are all aware that (almost) everything comes at some cost, and in the future the organizers should not hesitate to charge a fair price, or maybe at least have a "pay as much as you want" donation system. The day exceeded all expectations, it was the inaugural event and hopefully it will be repeated yearly. Of course we did not get a t-shirt (and in my opinion, t-shirts could/should really be omitted from the standard package everywhere and become more of an optional thing, to minimize overall cost and "carbon footprint") - and we all left Ortiga full of powerful impressions and memories from the day, with a strong wish to return. I am (not) ashamed to admit that at the end I asked for a cute blue tigela we were eating a delicious soup from - many people wanted it because it was indeed very pretty, and the nice lady in charge did let me walk away with it - it already has a special place in my kitchen, it makes me smile every time I glance at it, and I plan to use it often and remember this day.
In the beginning it was my intention to try to run with Orlando, since from Penafirme I thought we have approximately equal pace - wrong wrong wrong, the first kilometer or two with him were exhausting and costly for me - it took me then several kilometers to recuperate, he is way too fast for me - only because he got lost twice we met again later during the run a couple of times. And it is always nice to meet and exchange a few words with other runners. I was so happy and flattered to learn from Orlando that some runners even remembered and asked about me - it was actually during this trail when I realized how many people I know already, and how happy I am to see known and familiar faces. The trail running community is relative small, and we have so much in common regardless of any other differences, being a part of this makes me feel very well and simply belonging. Obviously, runners with similar pace keep meeting several times over the course in one day, and then in next events again and again, so naturally you become running buddies. Also, I do not have a GPS running watch, so I keep pestering others with the same question over and over again "Quantos quilómetros há aqui?" - which might not even be grammatically correct but people are very patient with me and I always get fully informed :-)
So, kilometers were passing by quickly, over 30 km course the total accumulated elevation gain was not too demanding (about 500 m?), and we were blessed with practically ideal weather for running: it was quite fresh but soon after the start also bright and sunny for the first part, and later more and more clouded and refreshingly windy during the last part when the sun could have been brutal. In the finish area there was Orlando who seemed to be completely fresh. We decided to walk up the course to meet the other half of our group - we still had our numbers on and some runners seeing us coming from the opposite direction were getting worried - but at least we told them the finish is really near. Jorge Esteves did not appear too happy to see us (joke!), and he speeded up as soon as we met. But Jorge Cancela took the time and told me three names of one plant I was interested in - I might have remembered if he had given me only one... We decided to postpone the shower which was on another location, and immediately recharged energy by a light and delicious lunch. And it was also promptly agreed that on the podium the first three male placement within the club should be honored. The conversation during the lunch was diverse and interesting, also in the car - too bad Jorge Esteves did not share the ride with the rest of us. It was nice to be part of our small R4F group participating at the Trail Arribas do Tejo, but next year more run4funners should decide and join us: I am sure everyone would enjoy it! And we can always think of specific categories within the club since after a trail like that everyone deserves to go to the podium :-)