Next stop on my Italian tour was the beautiful and picturesque coastal town of Sorrento.
I had previously envisaged some early morning barefoot beach runs. However, I really should have conducted some prior research. For Sorrento is mostly pitched on a cliff top and beaches were in short supply.
I say mostly pitched as my hotel was in fact located in the Marina with a short stretch of beach, which really would only have been suitable for sprint training. So each morning I made the most of my location to begin my run up a punishing and seemingly unending set of steps to the top. I’d like to say that I sprinted up them like a mountain goat, but in truth, the last dozen steps were taken at barely faster than walking speed and in temperatures of 28C, I thought my heart was going to explode.
Which, it almost did on a few other occasions. The streets of Sorrento are very narrow. Like lots of Italy, the vehicles of choice have two wheels. As an active travel advocate, it pains me to say that it wasn’t the self-propelled variety. And Sorrento doesn’t only lack from a shortage of beachfront. The town’s planners, way back, obviously weren’t too pedestrian friendly. For every so often, the sidewalk I was on would abruptly stop and I would be forced to join the motorised traffic, on the road. I can only guess from the car horns and shouting (my Italian isn’t great, but pretty sure they weren’t encouraging me) that I wasn’t too welcome.
If I were to avoid becoming another road traffic accident statistic and meeting my maker, I had only two options open to me.
The choices were to either resign myself to NOT running in Sorrento or to continue risking the ire of my girlfriend by getting up at an unfeasibly early hour and getting out before the rest of Sorrento was awake (well, apart from maybe the fishermen).
Well, I’m a runner (haven’t always felt able to say that) and if she loves me…I guessed, she’d understand. Plus the views from my run route were pretty spectacular.
But even that wasn’t sufficient as another omission from traffic in Sorrento were the concepts of “give way” or “slow”. When combined, narrow streets, blind corners and lunatic early morning drivers made each run a little too exhilarating.
On too many occasions, I’d be approaching a corner, only for a motorcycle or moped to burst into view and more worryingly into my path resulting in the need for some evasive action, on my part.
There weren’t going to be any PB’s set here as I learned to approach every bend and corner with caution. However, the mixture of heat, exertion and panic did manage to secure me the coveted “Sweater of the Week” award from my pals Elle and Jen.
What lengths do you go to manage a run and have you had any scary experiences?