Friday 14 September 2018

Menorca again...

Following Burnsall Sports on Saturday 25th August, then a busy day marshalling fell races at Hebden Sports on 27th we flew South on 29th for a couple of weeks in the sun on a favourite island in the Balearics, Menorca.
Our hotel, the Xuroy  at Alcaufar, Menorca  (Click to enlarge images)

 Consequently, we've been too busy enjoying ourselves to have had any time for blogging or any other work involving computers, the internet, wifi and suchlike chores.   So there's a lot of catching up to do.
Sarah Cumber on her way to winning the Burnsall 10 mile race (again) in 1.04.31 

I'm so glad I went to Burnsall for history was made in the Classic Fell Race (2.4km/274m ascent) when an ex neighbour of ours smashed a women's record that had stood since 1984.  40 year old International mountain runner Victoria Wilkinson sliced 36 seconds off Carol Greenwood's old record to win in 15mins 58secs.
Victoria Wilkinson on her way to smashing the Classic Burnsall Fell Race record
Victoria broke 12 iconic fell race records in 2017 including the Classic Three Peaks of Yorkshire mentioned in my blog 1st May 2017.  What fell race enthusiasts find absolutely mind blowing is that one week after Burnsall she blew away Pauline Stuart's 34 year old record in the Ben Nevis race (14km/1347m ascent). She ran up and down Britain's highest mountain in 1 hour 43mins and 01sec.
My mind is still boggling......
Competitors in the Hebden Crag race

Hebden wasn't quite so lucky with the weather as Burnsall but it stayed fine and there was a good turn-out for all the planned activities including the various fell races.  Hebden is much more low key, classed as a family fun day with novelty races, traditional games and stalls. 
It's famous Crag race is a bit more serious.
Antonio was struggling a bit...but finally made it
Antonio Cardinale, a 69 year old veteran of Otley A.C . who turned up for the Crag race had maybe underestimated its severity which, I'm told, in years gone by included 13 walls, 5 gates, a river and 400ft of ascent. It's since been drastically modified.  Antonio completed the course to wild applause from an appreciative crowd.
Local lad Ted Mason of Wharfedale Harriers was the easy winner.
We flew to Menorca on Tui's amazing Dreamliner
Then came Menorca which I've enthused about extensively in the past. Being creatures of habit this year's activities on the island were much the same as before.  We ran the same wonderful routes west or north along the Cami de Cavalls (the way of horses), repeated some walks and swam in the same idyllic limestone cove.
View from Room 206
Here are a few pictures chosen at random from my files.
We'd emailed Xuroy's receptionist, Adela, weeks before arriving to ask for Room 206 which catches the early morning sun but is much cooler in the afternoon and evening than the brilliant white painted balconies overlooking the pool that face west and become stiflingly hot.  Adela duly obliged.
Morning glory
Other than two long-ish runs that were impossible to complete before breakfast we were up and away early enough to watch the sun rising as we passed the Martello tower.
Arrival at Punta Prima
On previous visits we'd discovered a trail through private grounds that avoided the main tourist path from Alcaufar to Punta Prima.  We rarely met anyone nor experienced any opposition along it.
Running back to Alcaufar
The coastal path back to our hotel is pocked with rough and jagged limestone that requires serious concentration.
Alcaufar from the Martello tower
We always detoured to the Martello tower for a brief breather and to admire the wonderful views along the Southern coastline while a colony of swifts swooped around us.
A Fly By runner at the Martello tower
Invariably, we passed other early morning runners most of whom returned our greetings.  A speedy girl in yellow could, according to Strava, have been Nicola Hearn from South Shields.   Hi!
Back just in time for breakfast
In a little over ¾ hour we were closing the wicker gate behind us to recross the sandy beach in time for a shower and well deserved breakfast. I believe other hotel guests regarded us as rather odd!
A doctor at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary kindly gave me this wrist brace
That beach may look rather smooth and harmless but it was the scene of a nasty fall that badly damaged my Lt wrist during our first week.  600mg of Ibuprofen morning and night, plus liberal smears of a strong Voltarol gel, relieved the pain sufficiently for me to continue running.
Until I fell again on a last 8 mile run before flying home!
One of our pace makers 
Another favourite route went North along the Cami de Cavalls as far as some farm buildings at Rafalet Vell. We call it the tortoise route for obvious reasons.  We invariably encountered some along the way.

Feeding time for the cats
On a couple of occasions we saw half a dozen wild, feral cats a Spanish gentleman regularly fed and watered.
Morning feast - a change from birds and lizards
They fled from us but flew to him for a morning feast of fresh meat and water.
Collector's item
There used to be pigs at Rafalet Vell that would come running towards us as we leaned over the wall, maybe thinking we had titbits for them.  Alas, they're no more though bits of them may well have been on our bacon tray at breakfast time!  An old tractor neither snorted nor proved quite so interesting.
A wild morning at S'Algar
We'd vary our route on the way back, sometimes returning the way we'd come because there was more shelter from the relentless sun.  Temperatures climbed into the 80's most days.  On less sunny mornings we'd divert to S'Algar for a slightly longer run.
Not so much a run, more of a dance down the Cami de Cavalls
We ran on 10 of our 14 days in Menorca racking up 42 miles, the highlights being 2 x 8 mile runs along the Cami de Cavalls to Cala de Saint Esteve, then back along the coast to incorporate a wild swim at Cala des Rafalet.
Cala de Saint Esteve comes into view
First view of Cala de Saint Esteve's quaint little harbour will stop most people in their tracks, a little jewel in a barren landscape.  It's main attractions are Fort Marlborough, built by the British in the 1720's, and nearby Torre Penjat
Passing Torre Penjat (or Hangman's Tower)
As runs go, they don't come much rougher than this one, but we love it.
Not everyone's favourite place to run
The way ahead is not always obvious, especially approaching Cala des Rafalet where we became disorientated and had to make a ½ mile detour to a known path down to our favourite swimming pool.
Our wild swimming pool at Cala des Rafalet
We could see our objective from a distance but failed abysmally to locate the rocky descent through the bushes.
Ah, sheer bliss after a long, hot run
It's popular for wild swimmers, especially the Spanish who are usually there in numbers whenever we visit. The little cove with it's high limestone walls is a veritable sun trap - conducive to topless ladies and naked men.
Swimming with fish around her toes
There are fish of various sizes to accompany swimmers out and back.  Snorkelling is popular, some with cameras to record the underwater wonderland. Dragonflies dart around in the sunlight and tiny crabs heave themselves up onto the rocks to enjoy the warmth.
What we do when we're not running.
Lunch and liquid refreshment at Piccolo Mundo
Arriving back at Xuroy we'd a quick shower and hasty change of clothing to celebrate our achievement with a value for money set lunch at Piccolo Mundo, a nearby restaurant with panoramic views overlooking S'Algar.
Windmill on our approach to Es Castell
Oh, and we did a bit of walking too. Notably, a 9 mile morning saunter from the island's capital, Mahon, all the way back to Alcaufar. Passing windmills along the way our first port of call was the beautiful little watering hole of Es Castell.
Es Castell
We wandered around it's peaceful harbour where a semi-circle of boats gently bobbled at their moorings. Then it was up the hill for morning coffee with the locals and their charming children.
Cala de Saint Esteve
Leaving the cheerful chatting we strolled on, past Santa Anna before leaving the main road and curving round to Cala de Saint Esteve, a sheltered haven overlooked by limestone rocks.  There was joyful laughter from a family swimming in the clear, green water.
Leaving Cala de Saint Esteve on a rocky trail 
Onwards, up the steep, rocky trail following the Cami de Cavalls, past Eugenia and the entrance to Son Vidal before branching off through scrubland above Cala Rafalet and descending to S'Algar for some well earned liquid refreshment before returning to Xuroy.
Es Grau
Another walk from Es Grau to the Nature Reserve at Albufera proved rather fruitless. Not to mention stiflingly hot and sweaty.  Others had recorded seeing a book full of birds including various raptors.
Cocky cockerel at Es Grau
 All we saw was a few coot, some unidentified fish, a frog, a tortoise and a rather splendid cockerel stomping around on the beach at Es Grau.
The arrival of the giants
The crowds were a little too much for us at Mahon's horse festival and we came away early after watching the arrival of the giants to the music of a youth band, then the caixers parade into the magnificent cathedral for a moving service and beautiful singing.
A youth band.  What shall we play next?
  People were gathering in their thousands in the sanded streets for the annual spectacle of rearing horses and it was all a bit too claustrophobic for yours truly.  Not to mention dangerous for someone of advancing years. Cafes had been transformed into bars selling only alcohol, shops were closed and many boarded up in case of trouble.  Some streets were littered with rubbish.
Gathering crowds
We left for an early bus back to Alcaufar, leaving the expectant crowds to enjoy their  festival, so sadly missed what to many was the main event of the day, brave people surging forward to pat the horse's bellies, even their hooves, as the magnificent animals reared high in the air.
One of the many beautifully groomed horses at the festival
With lack of photographs here is a video I found on Youtube that shows how brave (crazy) some of the people are.
Right, after all these hectic activities this old codger is going for a rest! 


  1. Welcome back Old Runningfox , the post and the pics of your holidays are just magnificent and thank your encouragement at the Hebden Sport Day that I really appreciated and for the pic as well . I just back from Coutley Horseshoe near Sedberg a championship race ..I was struggling indeed because it was foggy and I got lost twice and no flags and no footpaths to follow ,for me is the worst scenario , but in the end luckily I manage somehow the 3 check points ,also somebody else got lost because they came in after me . Menorca is really a beautiful place to be and with your pics it look like a dream place to be . I hope your wrist gets better soon , you look like my friend the 77 years old Phil Martin of Bowland fell runner club because he fell down at almost every race and he has lost the front teeth too , his balance nowadays sadly is not that good .Antonio .

    1. Antonio, you're incorrigible! Good on yer for completing the Cautley Horseshoe in adverse conditions - and not being last!
      I might give running a miss until my wrist heals. I'm frightened of falling on it again - though my friend, Jeanie Powell, ran both Burnsall Fell and Ben Nevis with a wrist strapped up. Maybe I'm getting soft? Cheers!

  2. Welcome Back.
    A lovely post from start to finish … I enjoyed seeing all of your photographs.
    Hope your wrist is healed now.

    All the best Jan

    1. It's a lovely island, can't wait to get back!
      Wrist almost healed but I'll give it a few more days before I risk running with it again.