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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > Dec-16 > THE BEE’S PYRENEES

THE BEE’S PYRENEES

Too often regarded as a poor man’s Alps, the Pyrenees is a below-the-radar paradise perfect for a running adventure. Resident Tobias Mews says it’s high time you discovered its charms for yourself

@mensrunninguk

A piece of paradise: Tobias descends a peak as the valley opens up beneath him
Photography James Carnegie

If Greek mythology is to be believed, the Pyrenees were created when Hercules built a tomb for his lover Pyrene, from which the mountain range gets its name. However, a student of geography will tell us they were formed sometime between 80 and 20 million years ago, long before the Alps, as a result of plate tectonic movements when the Iberian landmass of Spain and Portugal made a spectacular collision with France.

Whichever version you prefer, since moving to the Pyrenees six months ago, for me it has felt as if time has stood still. Relatively untouched by tourism, life carries on as normal for its inhabitants, both human and animal, living in either ‘the valley’ or ‘the mountain’. Indeed, local runners have told me I’m just as likely to bump into a brown bear, an izard (a type of goat-antelope and the symbol of the Pyrenees National Park), a marmot or even a vulture, as I am a hiker or runner on the mountain trails.

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About Men's Running

The temperature may be dropping but, unlike bears and bats, real runners don’t hibernate. Quite the opposite. The autumn and winter months are, in fact, when the fun begins. To inspire you to take the season by storm, this issue is packed full of adventure-aiding advice. And the good news is, you don’t have to travel far to find it. You could, for example, try your hand at some local fastpacking. (That’s the hybrid of running and backpacking, by the way, not hurriedly cramming your belongings into a suitcase.) For the price of a cheap train ticket, ultrarunner Matt Maynard fastpacked his way along the 153-mile North Downs Way, chopping his toothbrush in half in a bid to cut down any extra weight. On page 52, he tells you all you need to know about the art of travelling fast and light. Speaking of fast and light, we caught up with two Olympians who embody both those qualities: new 400m world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk and rising star of British marathon running Callum Hawkins. Although they specialise in very different disciplines, they both have some lessons for us mere mortals. A lesson that many runners – including this one – have failed to grasp, is the art of the B race. Getting these warm-up races right can be a great launch pad to success, while getting them wrong can be a real confidence-crusher. On page 60, Damian Hall tells you how to strike a balance. So embrace the colder months and enjoy this issue – it’s a brrr-illiant one.
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