This is the story of two runners who ventured to Conwy, Wales this weekend for a half marathon. Why? Because they could.
It has only been a few weeks since discovering the race in the Northern corner of Wales, but they booked a plane ticket and then everything seemed to fall into place (Study Abroad Rule #38: Book now, think later). So the runners had a flight from Salzburg to London and a train ticket from London to Conwy, but the rest was a puzzle, with many pieces, to be solved as they journeyed onward. After an hour-long customs line, they managed to find their way from the airport to the heart of London where they then navigated the crammed Underground system to their train. The evening continued on as such until they finally arrived in Wales and encountered signs in Welsh, which threw them for a loop. (If you are familiar with the Welsh language, you might understand that the tired travelers wanted nothing more than to buy a vowel.) Stumbling upon their hostel and throwing together a shoddily prepared, but delightful dinner of carbs, they basked in the glory of successfully completing the puzzle that led them to Wales.
And then the pair of international road runners hit the trifecta. The Conwy Half Marathon was their third international race, and second half marathon in about a month. Tired legs? A little bit. With roughly 3,000 other runners, and one 700 year old castle, the atmosphere of the race was remarkable, and the course didn’t disappoint either. Hillier than anticipated, they didn’t seem to care as the course ran along cliffs beside the ocean and through stunning Welsh beach towns. The uphills were fun, the down hills were fast, and the flat was kind of the worst (to sum).
And what do two hungry travelers do after giving it their very best in a half marathon in Wales? Find a Chipotle, of course (Believe it or not, Austria does not have a Chipotle). And so begins the next puzzle. Back to London they went, got lost in the Underground, but soon found it. Shining like a beacon in the night, there was the long overdue, well-earned-and-deserved chain burrito shop. It was in this very Chipotle that the crazy traveling runners found out that they set PRs on a hilly course in Wales.
Time to continue with the puzzle. More Underground commuting, more trains, and ooh! An automobile! 4:45 the next morning, it was homeward bound, tired, sore, and proud, the puzzle was complete, and another race crossed off the list.
What can be learned from this story?
- Do all of the things. If you have the opportunity to do something remarkable, do it. You never know if you’ll get another chance to run a half marathon in Wales.
- Get lost. You’ll put the puzzle together along the way, even if it takes a few tries. And through the adventure, you’ll see some cool things and have some good laughs, even if it’s laughing at yourself trying to read a bus schedule in Welsh, or the fact that your train is delayed because of cows on the line.
- Dare to be different. Who needs to play it safe when they can let their passion guide them to personally uncharted territory?
- If it seems impossible, do it anyways. Getting from Salzburg to Wales and back again was no easy (or quick) task, but my oh my was it worth it. A PR on an incredible course in an incredible place- it doesn’t get much better than that.