Unfortunately, this has become a bit of a habit. My grandma has a house in the lovely Roussillon fishing village of Collioure, and sitting some 650m above sea level is a little thing called the ‘La Tour Madeloc’. It is basically a tower. On top of a big hill. Quite a steep hill. Here is it from a distance. You can just about spot it on the middle peak.
A few years ago I accidentally joked that I was going to run up to it. Previously, the thing we joked about was running to a windmill that wasn’t very high up a hill. However, I have this little problem that when I say I am going to do something, I feel like I have to do it. So I did. Took myself up with a Camelbak, having no idea how long it would take, met a few new friends at the top who asked if I wanted to head down and tackle the next hill along as they were doing three big climbs that day (NO are you crazy you mad French people, I’ve nearly died doing this one), smashed it back down and promptly lay on the front porch not moving for 30 minutes.
Last summer was the second time and I took my dad up. He’d done it at another time the previous year because he felt he had to better me. Bearing in mind this was about a month after I’d properly got back into running again after a stress fracture, it probably wasn’t the most sensible idea. He beat me on the ups and I got upset. However, my downhill game was strong (stupidly so, given the stress fracture) and I flew down so mwahaha.
He then proceeded to take my mum up it last October at which point she swore she would never do it again…..until I suggested it a few weeks ago 😉
And this summer I took her again!
There are several options of actually getting up to the top. If you’re starting from the town centre, you can pick up the road (Chemin de Consolation) that heads up to the Hermitage de Consolation, without taking the track up to the actual Hermitage itself – stay on the road and follow it up around the vineyards and then you hit the crossroads at the Col de Mollo. The other option is to pick up the winding road from near the bypass at the top of the town (D86) After lots of up and a sneaky downhill section, you end up at the same crossroads.
From there, you can continue up the road to the summit, however, my alternative route involves the ‘sentier pédestre’, or as we like to refer to it, ‘the mountain goat track’. If you’ve come up from the bypass main road route, this is off to your right before hit the downhill to the crossroads,however if you’ve come up from the town through the vineyards, turn right at the crossroads (as if you are heading back DOWN – except it is actually up, soz) and it is on your left.
This will then involve some trail running, some scrambling, maybe some swearing, some wondering WHEN this will ever end.
I’m not going to lie and say I ran it all….because I didn’t. It gets a bit stop-start because it just seems like you are going round another corner, and another,and another. But the terrain is SUPERB.
I used this as another excuse to test out the High UV Buff that Kitshack had sent me because firstly, it’s always sunny in the south of France,and secondly, I thought it might make me look more like a trail/ultra runner (until people saw me actually running). I tested it out during my night loops of the Adidas Thunder Run and it made an incredible head band – stopped my head torch giving me a headache and sat super comfortably without moving. I tried it a couple of ways this time – round my neck and back as a headband. Personally, I’m not used to running with something round my neck except in the winter, and I just found it too hot for this, so I switched back to trusty headband style. However, one of the clear benefits I thought was often, when running with a backpack I get chafing on my neck (looks like a lovebite, awks) and this definitely would have stopped this happening!
Once you’ve wound around the trails, you find yourself at the top of the hill, with a tower for company. You’ll also typically find a couple of cyclists – because there are few runners, and most of the cyclists will think you are crazy. However, the views are superb across the bays, vineyards and mountains – absolutely breathtaking.
And here is my mum bossing it, despite telling me she would be useless!
Once you are ready, you then you turn back and head back down again! We decided to hit the road down, which makes for some speedy downhills. Here is the Strava shot of my mile splits – take a guess when I started going downhill again! Apparently I ran my fastest ever 5k 😉
The best thing about the Buff was that despite being hot around my neck, as a headband, it was spot on. Once it was there, it didn’t move out of position, and I hardly noticed it. I get fed up of hair in my face so have to wear thin headbands, but this was easily a good replacement. Also, some incredible designs available! I was tempted by a Tour de France one, but ended up picking the pretty patterns of the Stem design, which was suitably girly for me! Also, there are lots of ways to wear it (my dad is a big fan of pirate-style bandanas for under his cycling helmet) so I have a lot of practising to do to get my technique right…
After hammering down and accidentally going the long way round (where we both sacked off running up a hill and just walked because the mood had gone) we crashed out at the Cafe Sola for a much needed coke (full fat obviously, I had exerted myself!), got a takeway pizza from the market and then wandered back up to the house to sunbathe. All in all, a fabulous day! And this was probably the most fun I’ve had doing it, so my dear Madeloc, it’s au revoir until next year.
*Kitshack kindly provided me with a Buff to test out, but as always, all opinions are my own*