HEAD TO THE COAST WITH THE MOST

Fear­less RW writer Sam Mur­phy braves Sar­dinia’s Chia La­guna half

Runner's World (UK) - - Race -

I’M FEEL­ING

BUOY­ANT as I toe the line of this gor­geous half marathon on the south­ern tip of Sar­dinia. It’s been a stress-free morn­ing. I rose, wan­dered down for break­fast (laid on early for run­ners), re­turned to my room and lim­bered up on the bal­cony. That’s one of the ben­e­fits of en­ter­ing a race hosted by a five-star ho­tel.

When I jog down to the start, which is si­t­u­ated just out­side the ho­tel gates, a size­able field is al­ready build­ing, in­clud­ing the crème de la crème of Ital­ian dis­tance run­ners, but few for­eign­ers.

The first few miles of this close­droad event take us north­east, pass­ing the la­goon that gave the area its name – white horses dance on its sur­face and flamin­gos stroll at the wa­ter’s edge. We strike out along a wide, fer­tile val­ley that’s brim­ming with olive and lemon trees, to­wards the vil­lage of Domus de Maria. Lo­cals are out in force to cheer us, which makes the hint of a climb even less no­tice­able. A mile or so later we loop back, pass­ing the tur­reted ruin of Torre di Chia, which has perched on its hill­side sur­vey­ing the sea since the 16th cen­tury. The ho­tel marks the fin­ish for those opt­ing for the 10K but the rest of us press on, and soon we are hug­ging a me­an­der­ing coast road. The hill­sides here are dot­ted with vines that, we’re told, pro­duce some punchy reds.

And what a coast it is! Long strips of pris­tine white sand flanked by cliffs and a sap­phire sea. The views are a wel­come di­ver­sion be­cause in spite of the smooth as­phalt, this race is far from easy go­ing – we seem to be head­ing re­lent­lessly up­wards (as is the tem­per­a­ture). It’s a re­lief to reach the turn­around point, at the nine-mile mark, high above stun­ning Tuerredda Bay. But while my lungs breathe a sigh of re­lief, my quads be­gin their own mi­nor protest as I let my stride open up on the sweep­ing de­scent.

This gem is now in its sixth year and num­bers have grown as word has spread about the tough but re­ward­ing course, slick or­gan­i­sa­tion and great value for money. Brits have the ben­e­fit of di­rect flights to Cagliari (the cap­i­tal) from Lon­don at this time of year, mak­ing it a has­sle-free spring get­away.

The fi­nal two miles are gun-bar­rel straight and we’re helped to the fin­ish line by a balmy tail­wind. Loud mu­sic, pasta salad and a rather nice medal await there – and it’s just a short stroll back to my room for a shower and a nap be­fore I head out to try one of those punchy reds. This year’s race is on April 30. fol­lowyour­pas­sion.it

THE COAST IS CLEAR The RW team was very re­lieved when Sam re­turned safely from this hell­hole

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