This km marker meant I had run my 500th marathon in just over 507 road days :)

I ran through the northern city of San Salvador de Jujuy, a large spread out city as it took me about three hours to find the road and run through it. On I ran south along highway 9 and connected up with the autopista till I came to a signpost which pointed visitors in the direction of what seemed to be a pretty town called Pirca. Well I am not sure if I took the right road towards Perico but the one I took had a lot of half built social buildings still under construction, dogs, filth and dirt as I ran on and on over a flooded gravel road and no joke an open city dump! There was an uneasy air of danger about the place. I decided against taking out a camera to shoot the place up. Then I ran by half constructed buildings and suddenly arrived at a very nice a pretty plaza. At the corner of the plaza two motor bike cops pointed me to Residencia Perico.
A local grocery store was selling pizzas, so I bought one after he offered to stick it in the oven for me. All the time I waited the man asked about the run and seemed fascinated. When the pizza was cooked he charged me an extra dollar for the cooking, this is what I meant before when I said the gringo gets very few favors in Latin America, screw the gringo for every penny is very much the mentality and I am not talking about poor businesses.
I continued running south on route 9 running past cane fields and then onto a 4 lane highway. The traffic was now very heavy but on a 4 lane highway.  I can even run onto the road lane feels safe as there is room for the drivers to move over to the other lane, if it’s particularly heavy or they don’t move over I just step back onto the sharp gravel.

Just before San Jose de Matan I stopped at a roadside house for some water. The water in Argentina is unlike Peru or Bolivia, it is good quality and can be drank straight from a tap. Unfortunately this man was a mean spirited one. Whereas I have no right to any water I don’t expect to be verbally abused! He did allow me to fill up from his sink, but I had to endure a volley of insults, the poor man I thought as I ran on, people are not like this, as I soon discovered, read on.

Mean spirited old man!

Last night I washed my clothes in the place I stayed in. My running top and socks didn’t quite dry out over night, no worries today I ran with them attached to the back of my pack, spin drying on the run! There was nowhere to stay that night so I just pulled off the road and slept just inside a clean culvert. When necessary I usually clean my area scrapping the site with a piece of car wreckage.
The drivers are very respectful here, including one man that stopped and gave me a drink of orange! Then 4km after San Jose de Metan I clocked up my 500th marathon, or 1,000th half-marathon!  in just a little over 507 road days.

500 marathons or 1,000 half marathons :)

Last night in San Jose de Metan I was walking from the restaurant back  to my hotel. It was dark as I passed a playing field which was very dimly lit. On the same pitch but at opposite ends there was not one but two rugby teams training at that hour and in the dark, their enthusiasm was commendable. When I was half way across Peru someone mentioned to me that Peru is not a sporting nation. I had not realized this but day after day, even at the weekends all I saw were empty football pitches, rarely did I see anyone playing on them. I noticed the same in Bolivia. I don’t think anyone would say that about Argentina, passionate sports people for sure.
I am running in the province of Tucuman now. Tucuman is famous for it’s oranges. Oranges everywhere, even growing on city trees, here they are all over the road, literally falling off  the back of trucks. For a couple of days these oranges kept me going till I got some more substantial food from shops, restaurants or petrol stations. A passer by tossed me a bag containing three oranges which just landed at my feet!

A present from a kind paser by.

I came to a customs checkpoint for trucks and was waved to a halt by this man who gave me hot water for my tea. His female colleague looked me straight in the eye and asked me…
” Why aren’t you married? “
” Because I am running around the world and I aint that crazy! ” I told her.
And then two more colleagues came over and offered me some cocoa leaves! No thanks I will stick to my tea and bread!

No thanks, tea and bread for me!

Once I saw a lemon on the road,
” Tea Time! ”   I shouted, picking it up. In the distance there was a police checkpoint. All offices, petrol stations, police stations or toll booths have water coolers where I can fill up my water bottles, or in this case fill up my beaker with the hot water from the red tap! The officers or workers are always very obliging and helpful. As I sat on a bucket outside this particular checkpoint drinking my lemon flavored tea I telling Marcello all about the run while a bored looking Manuel just looked on. Marcello gave me some delicious bread before I ran on.

Lemon tea time! Thank you Marcello.

Later I stopped for coffee and scones in a truck stop. The women there all wanted to take my photo and gave me sandwiches for the road!

Thank you for the delicious sandwiches!

It was a glorious day. On I ran yes Argentina is just like I remembered it, wonderful people, as I said it’s a bit like being back in the western world. After another hour or so I came to a bridge. I left the road, climbed over a low barbed-wire fense and just lay out my summer bag. This weighs in at around 500grams and is ideal for conditions like these. I fell asleep under a beautiful starry night.
A bit further on down the highway two communication technicians made a u-turn just to see if I needed any water! Alex and Alfonso gave me a couple of one and a half litre bottles of water.

Alex and Alfonso did a u turn and topped up my water tank!

That day I finished at Trancas Junction. I had to send and receive some very important emails. I have decided to take another timeout very soon so things have to be sorted. I had to go 3 km off my route to the town center. Trancas had an internet cafe where I could do my business but no hotel or place to stay. No worries, I need to do my business first and will worry about accommodation later.
It was around midnight when the internet cafe was closing. The only place to stay was back at the junction which was 3km away, so I decided to rough it here in this small town. That night I ended up sleeping in a church yard, luckily a gate was open, so I just walked through and rolled out my sleeping bag in a quiet discrete covered corner.

Stuck for a place to sleep that night I managed to find a quiet covered corner in a church yard.

The next day I am very tired, really tired and it’s a low motivation day as I only run a little. Workmen on a large construction project give me a spare company issued lunch of pasta and milanesa!

Amazing people, it;s like the States and Canada all over again!

I finished for the day at Benjimin Paz, at a petrol station and soon become friends with the staff. I could sleep behind the station  if I wanted but instead commute to San Miguel de Tucuman as I got more urgent work to do. I will return here in the morning.
After doing my business in Tucuman I can’t find a place to stay, it’s the weekend and all the economy beds are all booked up. There are only the fifty and sixty dollar a night places available. So I end up going to the bus station to see if I can get a bus back to Benjimin Paz. I just miss a bus and am told the next one is at 2am so I take that bus and arrive back at the petrol station at 3.30am. I crashed out at a table in the 24 hour restaurant, the staff are very nice as they don’t seem to care.

Malvinas Argentinas.. The Falklands belongs to Argentina signs in many places.

Next day I am predictably even more tired. I am almost through the Andes, but I am shattered both physically and mentally. Yes I need this timeout. I know taking timeouts  probably takes from the quality of the run, but that’s what I have chosen to run the world, that’s what work best for me.
I am sure it must be a great feeling to have crossed the Sahara, about 5,000km. To have crossed it in one go, unsupported and obviously without commutes! To finally walk off that very last grain of sand. To put that vastness behind you and look forward at an ocean, a green pasture, what a feeling that must be. Then there is the supported traveler or in my case the commuter traveler. Even though we all cover exactly the same distance, I would imagine the sense of exhilaration is not as exciting as it would be for the non-stop explorer who  has battled every single element in just the one crossing.
My way is what works for me, sure it’s a compromise. The running is still being run but the quality of the expedition is somewhat substandard. Someone sent me an email asking me why I do it this way and not find a cheap place along the side of the road! I don’t think he was talking from experience!

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  1. Ann Says:

    Great read Tony, the argentines seem to be lovely people. Lovely photos :)

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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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