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RUNNING OUT OF MEXICO CITY

Note at 5am!
 
 It’s too late for me to update the daily log details for the last 8 days. I will do so in the morning as I need some ‘ shut eye ‘ as I got a 9am breakfast interview!
I hope to add the photos tomorrow.
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TOTAL DISTANCE RUN IN 251 ROAD DAYS = 11,245KM = 6,987.3 MILES.
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Running out of Mexico City was very difficult. Now I had to push Nirvana and I was on my own.This morning when I woke up I was shattered and badly needed a rest day. I asked the hotel where I was staying if they would comp me an extra nights stay, and in fairness they tried hard but I had to wait till nearly noon before they came back and said they really couldn’t.

So at that late hour I started running down Viaducto Avenue. I did not get onto the autopista, I just ran down this long busy road till it turned into General Ignacio Zaragoza Avenue.

From what I could gather these roads are service roads to the autopista to Puebla, about 130km away.

It was crazy, all the while I tried to keep the autopista in my sight but every couple of kilometers my road just veered off to the right, in amongst spaghetti junctions and into another maze of streets.

 The locals may have known where they were going, but I certainly didn’t. I preferred to just keep going straight when they turned right, keeping the autopista on my left but I had to go thru parks, under subways with the help of a couple of business men who helped lift Nirvana up the steps.

All the while taxis, buses and VW mini-buses where whizzing about honking me off the road and pulling up in front of me. Pollution everywhere.

By 4.30pm or so I had over 28km up for the day, which surprised me despite the congestion. I still had a ways to get out of the city limits, so when I saw a hotel and noticed a quickly darkening sky I quickly headed for the entrance.

This was the first time I had to pay for accommodation in Mexico. And the first time on the whole run I paid the full price for a room.

Just to keep this record in tact I haggled, but the receptionist who seemed terrified to come out from behind a glass screen wouldn’t budge a cent, still at 17 euro and the alternative was the unsavoury thought of camping on the edge of Mexico City, I was not complaining, especially when the rain hammered the ground for the next three hours.

Next day I stuck to the same road, ran through the suburb of Del Reyes, so I felt I was getting somewhere till I came to another town which was just a dot on my map. I can’t remember the name of this town as that part of my map has long since been discarded, I shred away parts of my maps I don’t need or have run through.

As I said a name on my map, and two hours later I am still running through it all the while the taxis, and battered VW mini-buses are avoiding me and uncovered manhole covers. I counted two open manholes today, one to my right and another in the center of the inside lane. I looked back and noticed a taxi driving carefully over it, but what about the car behind? Surely this must be a big problem?

Then just as I thought I was getting to the end of this town I turned left and there was still another hour of running and hustling my way to the far end. This reminded me of running through Portland, Maine, time-wise I mean as I haven’t run through many big cities on the run, preferring to work my way around them.

I was thinking to myself that each of these countless buses, taxis and mini-buses represents huge problems for Mexico City when this country becomes more affluent, and it’s on the way up.

Thirty or forty years ago many people in Ireland did not possess cars. I remember kicking football in the square I lived in in Dublin and there were no cars. Then came the economic boom of the Celtic Tiger making Ireland one of the richest countries in the world, per capita. With it our sophistication, Irish people bought their own cars, took taxis. The foreign immigrants kept the city bus service in business. To be on an Irish bus was like being in a foreign city. I have had many a girlfriend that had never been on a bus in 10 or 15 years. Now that same square I used to live in is jammed, packed with nice motors.

So what’s going to happen to Mexico City infrastructure when all these people start buying their own cars swelling up the already jammed packed arteries of this city?

That’s not a problem I have as I ran 52km today eventually clearing all the satellite towns and getting into some nice country areas. I continued to run on national route 190 against the traffic. It was crazy as there was no hard-shoulder for me to push Nirvana. My saving grace was a drain which was a meter wide with about a 20 cm drop, so it was hardly comfortable running, but steady till the last 6km which was one long drag uphill.

THERE WAS ABOUT A 20 CM SLOPE TO THE LEFT.

 

Not only did I have to watch the cars and trucks from in front but also to my rear when overtaking vehicles paid no regard to solid yellow lines or even when deep into a 200m advance warning of a dangerous bend ahead. I witnessed many a close shave.

I saw some trucks equipped with what looked like Christmas tree lights which are flashed when they are deep into overtaking at one of these dangerous beds. Presumably its a signal to the approaching vehicle to hold back.

A little up the hill I stopped at a small restaurant on a farm. The owner was sitting on a swing, he looked a lonely figure who told me the restaurant was closed and when I asked if I could camp on his land he just pointed me on my way further on up the hill.

So on I climbed till I came to a place called Rancho TinacalLomaAncha. I didn’t quiet know what it was as it didn’t look like a restaurant or hotel but a couple of signs invited people to stop. I pushed Nirvana down the stony driveway, the main building was a further 200m away. To my left was a bit of a shack, that will do nicely I thought, a roof over my head and it looks like its going to rain heavily again.

Three young people, two men and a woman were in the garden down in a dip just behind the shack. They were drinking something from 1 ltr styrofoam cups.

It turned out the woman, named Elizabeth was originally from Birmingham, England. She is married to Alex a Mexican. They live in Singapore. Elizabeth is a very successful software design engineer. They are here on a short holiday and staying with Alex’s brother whose name I have forgotten in Mexico City.

The brother brought them up here to sample a local brew from the pulque plant.

Apparently it’s a simple process, you just slash a pulque plant and the juice seeps out and amazingly ferments overnight, forming the not too potent Pulque Maguey drink which the three of them are drinking.

Elizabeth says because it ferments so fast it also goes off very fast making it unsuitable for export. I started to wonder about preservatives and why they don’t use them.

They told me that the owner of the Rancho is a nice young guy who doesn’t spend his time swinging on swings, so I sent them up to his house to ask his permission to sleep in the shack and to fill my thermos.

Permission granted, I settled down to sleep in the shack which I gathered was used as a weekend bar-b-q cafe.

Next morning just as I was packing up the owners pretty wife passed by on her way to leave their young daughter to a school bus stop. The wife told me to go up to the house for a cup of tea. Then before dropping the child to the bus stop she went back to the house to tell the husband I was on my way up.

So I went up the driveway first asking if I could use the bathroom. He pointed me around the side into some bushes and when I came back filled up my thermos, gave me a sweet bun and a couple of nut bars as I waited outside the gate. As I have said before, and unprompted Elizabeth mentioned this to me, and her married to a Mexican should know, Mexicans don’t invite strangers into their homes as say Americans, Canadians, or for that matter anyone else in the world does.

Out on the road I the next 15 km were mostly all uphill as continued to be driven into my sloped drain. I ran on this for 14 more kilometers till I spotted the autopista which then started running parallel to my route 190. I looked at my map and saw that the distances to Puebla were almost identical on both roads. I also notice that they cross each other about every 10km. Then I got a great idea! Suppose I run on the autopista, on it’s lovely 3m hard shoulder and say I run it the opposite way towards traffic. Suppose a cop comes along and escorts me off, well not too big a deal as he would be bringing me back to a previous exit I had already passed, not like if I was with the flow he would be advancing me and making a problem for me. Seems worth a try.

So I pulled Nirvana down some steep steps behind a derelict restaurant and down onto the autopista.

 

Well I should have known better and really should have gotten on this on the way out of Mexico City. Several times the Federalis drove by and never bothered me and all the negative talk about them in the USA made me wonder. I was told I had better have a large wad of $20 bills and they will stop me for any reason. That there are road blocks every 30km. Well the roadblocks I experienced by the military in Baja have kept those two states drug free. Here there is a huge Federali presence at the toll booths where they are on the lookout for known criminals.

I was staggered by the amount of business that went on by the side of the autopista.

People have turned the back of their humble shacks into eateries where trucks just pull off onto the shoulder. Even though there are no walking and cycling signs erected, people still continue to walk, cycle and of all the cheek even run :) on the autopista!

 
 

NO RUNNING HERE! THAT'S WHAT YOU THINK!

 

I ran into Puebla state. I read somewhere that this is one of the poorer Mexican states and people that can’t make a living in Puebla city, just leave the state.

I remembered on the way out of Mexico City stopping at a small restaurant and I got a bowl of noodle soup, a liter of fruit flavoured water (which is called agua and often has different flavours in different areas, so I sometimes have a bit of a problem trying to order this instead of real agua, water) a steak dinner with salad about 10 tortillas and a second liter of agua, for good measure, all for less than 2 euro, or 30 pesos.

So when I crossed into Puebla I got just a bowl of soup and a few tortillas for 35 pesos.

I have found that food and accommodation are cheap here in Mexico but not luxuries. Pizzas are the same price as in the USA. Coffee is more expensive because you don’t get the free refills here, at least a dollar a cup of instant coffee, they leave a jar of Nescafe on the table and when you order coffee they bring you a cup of hot water. No different to my thermos which has been working overtime lately.

I have not had a decent chocolate or candy splurge since leaving the USA as chocolate is significantly more expensive and in the USA just about every gas station sells 2 bags of candy for a dollar, here its at least $2 for a small packet.

But as I have mentioned, eating out, the basics, accommodation including house or apartment renting is very cheap.

That night I ate in the 24 hour Restaurant Volcan in San Matias. The very friendly staff allowed me to lay my sleeping bag out around midnight.

Eventually I felt comfortable enough at not being kicked off the autopista to run with the traffic to my back. After all I was hoping to get back with the Angeles Verdes, and how could I if I was going the wrong way. Eventually I flagged down one of the Angels, a nice guy called Mathew but out of the Mexico City office. It turned out I wasted an hour and a half as we sat patiently in his truck calling one government office after another, bureaucracy rules here for sure. I can’t help wondering if I ruined myself by changing the route and not taking the coastal route as I felt I broke the link in the chain and had I stayed with my original route I feel I would have had this escort all the way to the Guatemala border.

I hope they get back with me before I reach Chipas state. Many people keep warning me about the dangers in Chipas, no not Americans or Canadians but Mexicans. I have been told they are desperately poor and dangerous, but as I have said I have heard this before and we will see.

By now I was getting closer to Puebla City, actually less than two hours away and took shelter in a roadside cafe as the Heavens opened and it lashed raining for more than an hour. I think I got a stomach bug here as I had a stomach upset for a few days later.

I also figured it would be a handy place if I could stay the night as it was a 24 hourer. I figured as this place is on the autopista I wouldn’t have to exit to go into Pueblo, a city of over a million at this late hour. It would be great as I don’t even have to go to Pueblo I could just keep running on towards Tehuacan my next stage about 3 days down the highway.

However the lady made it clear that as soon as I had eaten up I should move on.

And that’s what I did, four stops that day, two of them very long meant it was almost dark when I was exiting the autopista for Puebla.

On the way into the city there were the usual big name hotels which I ran by. Eventually I came to a place called Motel Coleseo. There was a sign outside saying 250 pesos and I was delighted. At first I thought the place was closed down as it was in darkness. As I wheeled Nirvana into the courtyard, a man came rushing towards me. I thought, they mustn’t do much business here as he is delighted to see me!

Then he tells me there are rooms but the office is not attached to the hotel that I got to go back outside and turn left and left again. So I did that and thought it very strange but in my innocence persisted. I asked a couple of locals where the office was and they laughed and said Hotel Coliseo is a ‘ strange place ‘

So I went back into the opposite end of courtyard and this was the bit I never thought about, was why did he send me out and around the block instead of through the grounds? So the security guard sends me further around the block till I do a full circle and arrive back where I started.

I was understandably frustrated at this stage and asked him what was wrong!

He asked me if I had the 250 pesos for a room! I showed him my Spanish printed business card and told him I was running around the world and yes I did. He read the card and didn’t seem too impressed.

Then he started telling me a room was for 8 hours only! Up till recently that would have been fine but without an escort I can’t go out running in the middle of the night.

Then he told me the hotel was for putas! Prostitutes!

I really didn’t believe him. I think he was just a dick who saw me wheeling a cart in and I guess he didn’t take a liking to me, my high-viz vest or cart, thinking I was a tramp.

I went down the road and after about half an hour searching found the lovely Hotel Hacienda where I also took a rest day, some rest day I was on the computer till 11.30pm getting much of my backlog cleared that day.

Many of these hotels have a garage entrance, which is great if you have a car or a cart!

And what is effectively an upstairs apartment, nice and clean and comfortable for less than 15 euro a night. As mentioned before, they don’t give you the key, you got to go to reception every time you want to get in.

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4 Responses to “RUNNING OUT OF MEXICO CITY”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    Hi Tony,

    Congratulations on pursuing your goal — and good luck in Dublin!

    A couple of travel tips: To order fruit water, ask for “agua fresca” or “agua de sabor.” And, yes, a lot of the hotels with garages in Mexico are “love hotels.” They have garages so that people can hide their cars. Many are only available by the hour or overnight if you arrive after a certain time. That said, a friend of mine (and her husband) who drove through Mexico stayed at them a lot, because they’re cheap and you can lock up your wheels.

    If you’re spending any time in Puebla, check out my blog (www.AllAboutPuebla.com) for things to see, do and eat.

    Happy trails,
    Rebecca

  2. Ann Says:

    Great read Tony, really enjoyed it. Hope you do manage to connect with the Angeles again. Pity you changed your route and they might be still with you. Over 11,000kms is a great achievement :) keep on running. Take care Ann :)

  3. Mam Says:

    Hi Tony,

    We are all so proud of you. I read your update for last 8 days, my god you had some of the most challenging days of your trip so far, between, the bug you picked up, finding it hard to get accomodation, proper food and your beloved chocolate bars etc. not to mention the danger on the roads. 11,245km in 251 days is just fantastic. Keep up the progress and mind yourself, love Mam. P.S. Ireland drew 0-0 with Russia in Moscow today.

  4. Andrés Montero Flores Says:

    Great¡¡ Tony;

    Very lucky trail along the most complex city in Latin america.

    “Moctezuma·s revange” goes kind with your stomach Tony.

    Sometimes I think the people´s reasons because your extreme situations, proving your own tempered behavior, iron-main-character and many other human cualities.

    Recieve my admiration and recognizement¡¡

    greetings¡¡ Super-Mangan Mangainner¡¡

    Your friends. God blest your steps.

    Andrés Montero Flores
    Nayarit, México.

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...

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