April 13th 2015 saw Chris and I begin our “Camino de Compostelle”. An incredible, challenging and spiritual journey, walking over 600 kilometers in a little over four weeks. Setting out from Santander in northern Spain, we enjoyed a week of coastal walking before heading inland to the City of Oviedo. I was quite moved leaving Santander on our first day of walking. As pilgrims 100’s of kilometers from our destination, elderly men and women stopped in the street to wish us “Beun Camino” some of them bowing their heads and drawing a cross upon themselves with their hands. I found this very humbling and emotions welled up inside me. Day by day as we walked and continued our journey people would call out to us, “Beun Camino”. Some from pushbikes as they cycled past, some from windows of their homes and many from passersby, strangers wishing us well, “Beun Camino”. From Oviedo our journey took us from the Camino Norte, on the coastal route to the Primitivo route and through the Cantabrian Mountain Range. This was a particularly challenging part of our Camino for me. My body reminding me daily that I belong in the water, not on the land hiking through mountain ranges day after day. But like many things in life the challenge brought great rewards. We were blessed with fantastic weather on two of the toughest days in the mountains and the scenery was spectacular.
As our journey wore on friendships were being made. Each day we met other pilgrims along the way, passing each other along the county trails, meeting when we stopped to rest or overnight at the same locations. First sharing smiles and greetings, then stories, experiences and meals. People of various ages, nationalities, religion and walks of life. All walking the Camino as individuals yet as one. On our final day walking into Santiago de Compostelle, Chris and I had overnighted in a different town to some of the friends we’d made along the way. As we reached the outskirts of this historical city, without any organizing whatsoever somehow, one by one, two by two we met up with most of the pilgrims we’d walked with and become friends with over the past few weeks. It was a joyful and fulfilling moment entering the square in front of the Cathedral of Santiago together with the group of friends we’d made along the way. After a two days enjoying the atmosphere of Santiago de Compostelle it was time for us to continue our walk to Finisterra (once thought to be the end of the world) on the west coast of Spain and around the beautiful coastline to finish our journey in Muxia. The main topic of conversation being what a fantastic experience our Camino had been, and which one shall we do next?
Once back home in Australia, Chris and I both set our sights on our next challenge of the year. With Chris working hard towards the Noosa triathlon in early November.
Myself, I’ve put my walking legs back on the shelf for the time being and put my marathon swimmers cap back on. My sights are set on two swims in the USA in August. The first being a 20 mile (approximately 33 kilometers) Catalina Channel crossing on 6/7th of August.
If I’m successful I will be the third person to have accomplished the “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming” twice. The first person to have achieved this was Antonio Argüelles of Mexico in 2009 and Californian swimmer Tina Neil in 2012.
The “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming” is achieved when a swimmer successfully swims the English Channel, Catalina Channel and Swum around Manhattan Island, New York. Approximately 110 swimmers have completed the “Triple Crown” to date. http://www.triplecrownofopenwaterswimming.com/
I must admit to being a little nervous about my Catalina Channel swim, but I have a fabulous support team headed by powerhouse swimmer and friend Barbara Held (a Triple Crowner herself). Barbara’s also crewed for me on my Cuba to USA attempt in 2012 and my Anacapa crossing last year.
The week following my Catalina Channel swim Barbara and I head to Boston for the Boston Light Swim where both Barbara and I will be swimming in a race across Boston harbor. This is one from Barbara’s “Bucket List”!