Chasing Hangliders

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Having updated in my last blog (Green Leaves of Hope) my joyous and productive return to the Gambia, the virtual funrun and the time out with the community projects had resulted in a few minor consequences. I had suffered a swolen foot and was on antibiotics, and a suspected collapsed lung making the most simplest of breathes uncomfortable. Not ideal when you have another 55 10ks to run in the year.

Almost Three weeks had past without any running deminishing the few 1okm runs I had in gained ground on as part of my 100 x 10k challenge.

I will be honest both injuries had given me the jitters. My travels had reminded me how fragile our health can be, how seriously fragile other environments can be,  and also what we seriously take for granted in the comforts we have at home. I am not sure if it was the fact that a small ankle blister had quickly escalated into a swollen foot that refused to heal, or my slight stuborness to rest it in the first place making me question my own judegement, but now I felt uneasy and nervous to start running again. For my first run back, I stayed local (just in case!) and ran laps around a local park trying to stay close to as many passing strangers as possible, just in case I needed to be ‘found’.

The first 10km back was a slog, in the rain. I had totally forgotten how far 10km actually is. I could still feel some tension in my chest, as I ran a fine balance between pushing myself to get back into fitness whilst not giving in to the jitters, and not pushing it too far/fast risking not making it out alive.

I managed two 10ks before I flew out to Laragne south of France to drive for my cousin Steven, who was competing in the British Hangliding National Champs – and that meant good scenery and hopefully a few good runs!

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So I had no option but to get back on my 10km horse, and run fearlessly through the valleys of chateaneuf de chabre, part of the Natural Park of Provence Baronnies

If I needed an excuse to run, Laragne, known as the European capital of free flight, has some truly stunning scenery. I was there as a retrival driver helping my cousin and a fellow pilot up the mountain and then chasing them by car in their hangliders and collecting them safely back to basecamp. Fortunatley my pilots did fairly well, and never strayed too far from the course and my cousin ended up finishing in a very worthy 4th position:

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One day I made it out under the early skies, pre-hanglider morning brief, and headed to Upaix, a little village up on a hill. Hills mean climbing, which means more breath which means more pain. Whilst I soon regreeted it, the views were very well rewarding with 360 degree mountain ridges and the glorious face of ‘pic de burgh’ looking back at me – 1okm done in 46 mins…. getting there!

Another morning I looped Upaix, avoiding the hills, completing 14km, and the lung held up. So a few days later I ran out an completed my June Half Marathon, 22km through an incredible local gorge, crossing the river and taking a rocky hilly path that cut through the mountains. The heat was immense but its not every day you get to run in such places, and I certainly made the most of it!

 

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In between runs, I got to pick wild cheerys, and drive to the top of incredible mountain ridges, and watch and admire the ainspirational and drenline fuled sport of flying as close as you can get to being a bird (with my 10k running feet safely on the ground!).

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What an incredible week. If you thought I was mad for chasing (and chasing, and chasing) a passion then you should spend some time with these guys. An incredible sport, that can only be experienced to be believed. The hangliding community are a fun and welcoming bunch, and it was great to be a small part of an amazing event, and even beter to support my cousin and witness a great achievement in him finishing 4th! Well done cuz.

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Check out more of my weeks hangliding photos.

Stay tuned. Later in the year, we plan to race….. Man vs Hanglider a 10km challenge like no other, as part of the MegaMeter 100 x 10km challenge www.justgiving.com/MegaMeterRun 

Thanks for all of your kind and continuous support!

Paul 🙂

 

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