Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Running Through Barcelona: A Guest Post

I haven't had a guest poster on the blog in a while but I had an opportunity to have Beth, of yes, folks. i run like a girl talk about her pretty amazing experience running a race on New Year's Eve in Barcelona. If you have even wanted to run through a Spanish city with 10,000 friends on the last day of the year wearing fake noses....read on.

During our weekly phone calls my dad often starts the conversation with: "So, where are you today?" (Am I really in an airplane that often?) Last month I was lucky enough to swap one phone call for a postcard, which read:

“In Barcelona. Loving it! Will call as soon as the plane lands in ATL. Love, B.”

One of my travel “tricks” is to find a local running club and join them for a run or three. Aside from the obvious the benefit of getting a nifty tour of an unfamiliar city, running with locals usually offers insight into the area that goes far beyond what I can read in a guidebook. In Barcelona, I found the Barcelona Casual Road Runners Meetup. Don’t let the name fool you. The only “casual” thing about the group was their attitude toward newcomers. The runners were very welcoming, but they kept up a brisk pace!

Before the run began, we chatted and warmed up. One runner gave me insights into Catalan holiday traditions. Another runner fed me information on great Barcelona restaurants. In fact, one of the best meals of the trip was at the running-group-recommended La Llavor dels Origens, an organic/local restaurant featuring traditional Catalan dishes. The spinach cannelloni and baked-stuffed onion were incredible. (And it didn’t hurt that the restaurant served a complimentary shot of muscatel wine at the end of the meal.) Calling Origens one of the best meals of the trip is saying something, too, as the food was delicious. Dishes were fresh and flavorful in nearly every restaurant and tapas bar we tried (especially those that were inside the fresh markets).

As for holiday traditions, the Road Runners taught me all about how the locals spend New Year’s Eve (Cap d’Any). In the evening on December 31st, more than 10,000 runners take to the streets for the Cursa dels Nassos, or “run of the noses.” According to local tradition, on Cap d’Any:
"look out for L’Home dels Nassos, the man who has as many noses as days of the year – it being the last day, the sly old fox has only one... At midnight everyone stops swilling cava and starts stuffing 12 grapes into their mouths, one for every chime of the bell." (Source: Catalanculture.com)

So on New Year’s Eve, runners lace up their shoes, tape fake plastic noses to themselves, and race a crowded-but-fast-paced 10k. Then most go home and celebrate the New Year with family. (Most holidays in Catalonia are family-oriented.)

At midnight, bells all over the city chime 12 times to ring in the New Year. Simultaneously, everyone in Barcelona tries to eat 12 grapes before the last bell tolls. If you finish all 12 grapes by the 12th bell, locals believe, you will have a lucky New Year. (You can bet we had a bag of grapes handy that night!)
After midnight the younger crowd heads out for a night of club-hopping. (I should note, as we woke at dawn to catch a cab to the airport, we saw dozens of revelers stumbling home… Apparently the “family holiday” ends when the last grape is eaten. Then the real party starts.)

Yes, I suppose I could have learned about the bizarre Catalan joke about noses, the 10k, and the New Year’s grape-gobbling by Googling it, but what’s the fun in that?

Thanks Beth! So fun to read about adventures running around the world.

Do you go running while on vacation?
Yes! I don't work out as much while on vacation but I try to include some runs to keep up fitness even while on holiday. 

Have you ever run in a foreign country?
In Hong Kong obviously I ran, and also in Germany. I think that may be it?


  1. Peter Sagal (of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me fame) always runs with a local club in the city he is traveling to!

  2. I love running in new places.

  3. Loved reading this...so much fun to explore + run in new places :)

    <3-Cami from First Day of My Life

  4. Really enjoyed this post! Thanks for having Beth as your guest.

  5. this is so awesome - you had me at "baked stuffed onion" -> need this!!!

    I can't believe they do all that and run through the city. What is the big nose symbolic of?!? haha thanks!!!

  6. I really enjoyed this post and it will be one that I will have to share with Allan!

  7. this is so cool! i love running on vacation...i think its so fun to run in new places!

  8. I love this. Combining running with traveling is just the best, especially when you get involved with a local tradition like that.

    My favorite experience like that was running a 35k "bush run" in Australia last year. Awesome!

  9. hooking up with a local running club is such a great way to see a new place!

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