There is a village in the north west of Lanzarote called Famara. It is a surfing town, blessed with a long sandy beach that wraps itself around the junction in the land where the cliffs rise up sheer to create the high mountain range of basalt rock that rises up from the sea. The waves roll in off the point break created by the land formation, clean hollow breaks like a mini Hawaii pipeline. The main town is a combination of surfers hangout and cyclists pit stop, with a few pretty beach side traditional houses and cafes. On the far side of the beach is a small housing development, stone built whitewashed squat villas rented out or used as holiday homes by wealthy locals. It is a lovely place, made more lovely by the brooding presence of the highest peak on the island watching over, and the wall of basalt leading off towards the north.
Three trails lead off from the corner of the housing development. One leads up, snaking to the top of Penas del Chache, getting more rocky and technical as you climb. One leads west half way up the cliffs until a landslide cuts it off and makes it impassable. The third leads inland, and eventually winds up the back of the mountain.
I took the west trail first, running over the rocky path in the shadow of the mountains on my right. On the left the sea, surfers like tiny toys bobbing through the lines of waves. Where the trail had been swept away by a rockslide I had to turn back, running past the village and out along the inland path. Soon this turned uphill towards the back of the mountain. A dry river bed cut starkly through the green carpet of the volcanic fertile soil. The path snaked upwards, over the hump of the mountain range, then climbed again sharply upwards requiring hands on knees to push upwards. Eventually, the climb flattens out and the radar equipment on the top of the mountain comes into view. From the far edge, you can see south and east, counting the hundreds of small volcanoes that dot the landscape. West lies the Atlantic Ocean, white lines of waves that look orderly and neat from this perspective.
The descent: six kilometres of technical switchback trail requiring concentration. I try to skip down efficiently, one lapse finds me on my hands. Smell of wild fennel, and heat rising where the wind is blocked. The remains of a car that had fallen for the high road above, macabre but shining in the sun. Boulders, lizards disturbed by my feet. Dust and clay and volcanic scree making my feet unsteady. I run as hard as I can down, pushing the last runnable kilometre as hard as I can.
Finishing the run, feet and legs in the cool ocean, watching the surfers further out. A run that will sustain me through the cold darkness of winter. 20kilometers and 1,000m up. My pack warm on my back. Trail shoes dusty and legs strong. I am so lucky to be able to do this.