HEAD TO THE COAST WITH THE MOST
Fearless RW writer Sam Murphy braves Sardinia’s Chia Laguna half
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