Stage 3 would finally see the weather break, raising our spirits. The stage was the shortest although tough underfoot. For me, I really started to feel bonded with my fellow runners and the better weather bought back some of that Icelandic magic.
After the now familiar continental breakfast, it was a thankfully short bus ride. The stage started just west of the small town of Vík in Dryholaey park. We warmed up and gathered for the start.
Immediately the route took a steep climb up to the lighthouse. That certainly got our tired legs warmed up. As it steepened most of us ‘mid packers’ walked a bit. As we got to the top, we soon joined the road that led back down again. At least we had a chance to catch our breath on a relatively easy stretch.
At the bottom of the hill, we turned left away from the car park where the bus was. It wasn’t long before we came across Laura with a flag who waved us off the road onto the boggy terrain. The trail (which we were making ourselves) ran around the bottom of the outcrop we had just ascended and descended from.
We came out on the black sandy beach which seemed to stretch for miles. There was a stiff breeze and it was exhilarating.
Down the beach, on and on and on
All the runners could be seen stretched out along the beach. We ran parallel to the ocean and it was heavy going. The sand was fairly soft and compounded fatigue on my fatigued legs. We were supposed to be turning at some point but we seemed to be going far too far. The marker came into view and I slogged on towards it.
I gratefully rounded the flag and started the equally long slog back towards the finish. Although I was now on the home stretch it didn’t help!
Back around base of the outcrop we went, then back on to the road where Laura was still waving down the traffic for us. We followed the road back to where the bus was parked, before starting the climb that we had started on originally.
That final climb saw me walking some more until I topped out and made it to the finish. It had been a very long 10K!
Relax and enjoy
While we waited for all the runners to finish, there was plenty of time to take some photos. The ominous weather had passed. We had some blue sky and sunshine to lift our spirits. I really felt relaxed at home with all my new chums as we bonded with smiles and laughs.
Shopping and lunch
After plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, we hopped aboard the happy bus for the short drive into Vík. We stopped at the service station that also had a handy gift store next door! Giorgio recommend some lunch options and also suggested we visit the small supermarket to get some supplies for tomorrow’s marathon stage. I wandered over there and rubbed shoulders with the locals, but mostly other runners. Everyone was trying to figure out what would be best (choice was limited) and there were some strange food combos put into baskets. I also got some lunch to eat then. After being checked out by a bored worker who was probably annoyed at having this impromptu lunchtime rush, I wandered back to the bus with Benoit and Taco.
I ate my lunch alone by the bus at a picnic table and enjoyed some warmth from the sun. After, I found some other runners browsing in the gift store. I bought a couple of coasters and a pen*…exciting, huh? I had to buy a pen because in my entire time in Iceland, I had needed one, but hadn’t seen any available. Anywhere.
Everyone got on the bus or picked up from the store and we chugged back to the hotel. There was an option to visit a remote hot bath, but I opted to relax at the hotel. After three stages, I needed some rest and a chance to try and dry some of my damp and pungent race gear.
I took a wander around the property and took some photos. Sanjay appeared and we chatted and wandered some more.
The trip-out returned and we got ready for dinner. I wasn’t making much headway on my six-pack so I broke my normal rule of not drinking the night before a race… and had three. And maybe an Einstøk at dinner. There was lots of talk about the upcoming marathon stage. I was more than a little nervous, but we’d see how it would go.
*I needed one to write my postcards. It died the first night I tried to use it so I ended up having to try and grab the innards to scratch out my missives.