Five Weeks to Go!
It’s official! In five weeks I’ll land in Bordeaux, France after wrapping up a work trip in London — and three days later boyfriend and I will run the Lège Cap Ferret Half Marathon!
We’re going to spend a day in Bordeaux before heading to the nearby beach town of Lège Cap Ferret, where we’ll stick around to relax for a day after the race. Bordeaux is known for its wine, but Lège Cap Ferret is famous for its oysters, the tallest sand dune in Europe, and … not being famous. From what I can tell, it’s a low-key and laid-back destination that has some old-school charm and does cater to visitors, but won't feel like a complete tourist trap. We’re going in the off-season, before summer vacations begin, so I expect the town to be pretty quiet aside from any other visiting runners!
We decided early on to plan our vacation around a small destination race — nothing as strenuous as a marathon, but something to look forward to and keep us active. We used the ahotu International Running Calendar to search for events during our trip, organized by race distance and location. Knowing we were going to continue on to Spain’s Basque Country to meet up with a friend halfway through our vacation, a half-marathon nearby in Southern France sounded ideal. A half is a distance that feels worth a special trip, but not so long that we’d have to devote serious time to training before or recovery after.
We considered the Nice Half Marathon (a more touristy and conventional vacation spot!) but decided that Lège Cap Ferret was more convenient to the rest of our trip, more in line with our goal of an under-the-radar destination, and would also allow us to visit Bordeaux a bit first. Plus, in addition to getting a race t-shirt, you get a bottle of wine! The racecourse looks flat and scenic, running along bike paths in a forest and some marshy beaches.
Hotels in Lège Cap Ferret are a little pricey —it is a vacation destination, after all— but not outrageous. However, we decided to stay at an AirBNB, which is a little cheaper and gets us out into the “real world”. We checked out a few along the Lège Cap Ferret peninsula and got to know the region a bit. (How did people do this before Google maps?!) Many AirBNBs are actually located in nearby suburbs, while the town center and biggest beaches are located at the Southern tip of the peninsula, but we found a little gem owned by an oyster farmer in a quiet neighborhood only a few blocks from the beach. We booked it, thinking we’d just have a short drive to the half marathon start line — but soon realized the start/finish line is in that exact neighborhood, less than five minutes from our front door.
I didn’t think our luck could get any better, but we kept investigating Lège Cap Ferret. We would have been perfectly happy spending the day after the race drinking wine and eating oysters (well, boyfriend will — I’m vegetarian) in tiny beachfront bars, but it turns out there are some attractions we want to check out after all.
Because I’m still getting over my IT band issues, and we’ll be traveling and indulging instead of training seriously, I'm not going to view this half marathon as my goal race — I'll save that for the Brooklyn Half in May. Hopefully, this means we’ll feel up to climbing all 258 steps of the town's historic lighthouse after this race! From there, we’ll have a panoramic view of the Atlantic to the West, Arcachon Bay to the East, the enormous Dune of Pilat to the South, and the entirety of the Lège Cap Ferret peninsula. The Dune of Pilat is 500m long, over 100m tall, and 2700m wide! Apparently it shifts quite a bit and will even retreat into the forest sometimes.
And unbelievably, there is also a tiny little train station in Lège Cap Ferret. This might be a bigger treat than the location of our AirBNB! We. Love. Trains. This one is an old-school, open-air train that runs through the center of Lège Cap Ferret, making a quick 15-minute trip across the spit of land, from the Atlantic waterfront to the Arcachon Bay. I’m sure we’ll do most of our exploring on foot, and the distance from one beach to another wouldn’t bother us on a normal day — but a little rest after our half and our climb up the lighthouse, plus our little-kid excitement over the train itself put this at the top of our list!
After our stay in Lège Cap Ferret, we’ll drive about an hour back to Bordeaux to catch another train (sadly, the usual commuter kind) and head down the coast to San Sebastián, Spain, where we’ll meet up with our travel buddy. We’ll spend a few days in that beachfront town, checking out the local pinxtos and cider scene before continuing on to Madrid, our last stop.
Can’t believe how close the trip is already! In addition to all the vacation planning, I've been starting to run a few longer distances. It's really exciting to see the travel logistics fall into place as I get my running fitness back!