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20 Marzo 2012
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Run or die...Correr o morir in English

Hello!!

here is a sample translation of the Skyrunner manifiesto and 1st chapitre of book...for the rest we expect some English publisher who is willing to publish...

CORRER O MORIR by Kilian Jornet Sample translation

Translated by Alan Moore

Contact:

Marina Penalva mpenalva@arallibres.cat
Sònia Herrera
sherrera@arallibres.cat


The Skyrunner Manifesto

Kiss or kill. Kiss the glory or die trying. Losing is death, winning means breathing. The struggle is what makes a victory, a winner.How many times have you cried of rage and pain? How many times have you lost your memory, your voice and your judgment because of your tiredness? And in this situation, how many times have you been thinking: Try again! A couple of hours more! Another hill! Pain does not exist, it is only in your head! Control it, destroy it, delete it, carry on! Make your opponents suffer, kill them. I am selfish, am I not? Sport is selfish because one has to be selfish to be able to fight and suffer, to love loneliness and hell. To stop, to cough, to be freezing, not feeling one's legs, to feel nauseous, to vomit, have headache, a shock, blood running down your body... Have you got something better to offer me?
The secret is not in the legs. It is to find enough courage to go out and run when it's raining, windy, when it's snowing. When flashes of lightning hit the trees. When snowballs or ice rain hit your legs, your body and make you cry. To continue, you have to dry the tears from your face to be able to see the stones, the obstacles, the sky. Forget some hours of party, face tens of reproaches, say no to a girl, to the warmth of the blanket covering your face... Send everything to hell and go out in the rain until your legs bleed after having fallen down and risen again to keep running up... Until your legs shout: ENOUGH! And leave you alone in the middle of a storm in unknown mountains... until death.
Shorts drenched by the snow, brought by the wind that slaps you face and freezes your sweat. Light body, light legs. Feel the way the pressure of your legs and the weight of your body are concentrated on the metatarsus of your feet's fingers, exerting a pressure capable of breaking stones, destroying planets and moving continents. With both legs in the air, flying like an eagle and running faster than a cheetah. Or when you are going downhill, when your legs sink in snow or mud, just before pushing
forward, and make you feel free to fly, scream of rage, of hatred and love in the heart of the mountain, where only the bravest rodents or birds can become your confessors, hidden in their nest under the rocks.. They are the only ones who know your secrets and your fears. Because losing means dying. And you cannot die without giving your best, everything, without crying because of pain and injuries, you cannot give up. You have to fight until death. Glory is the greatest thing, you cannot reach it without giving everything you have. You have to fight, suffer and die. Without that, nothing is worth it. The time to suffer has come, the time to fight has come, the time to win has come. Kiss or die.

Those were the words that, in those times, I had pinned onto the door of an old apartment and would read every morning before going out to train.

1 What do you want to be when you grow up?

—A lake counter. When I grow up, I want to be a lake counter!— The teacher took her eyes from the board, where she was writing a list of the professions that the children in the class wanted to be when they grew up, and gazed over at my desk.
—That’s right, a lake counter. But I won’t only count how many there are. I’ll go up into the mountains and when I find a lake I’ll see how deep it is by throwing a stone into the middle of the water, tied to a rope, and I’ll see how many paces long and wide it is. Where the rivers that flow into it come from. And where the ones that flow out of it go. I’ll see whether there are any fish, or frogs, or tadpoles. And whether the water is clean or not. —Rosa looked at me in even greater surprise: it was not the job that most five-year-olds wish for, but I was quite sure of myself. It was my destiny.

What with this anecdote and the fact that, on all the climbs and hikes that I went on since I had use of reason, I had always brought at least one stone from the peak or highest point we reached home, a custom I still preserve even now (I collect stones of all types and colours: volcanic stones from Kilimanjaro, granite from the Pyrenees and the Alps, ochre stones from Morocco and Cappadocia, blue ones from Erciyes, slabs from Cerro Plata...), it all makes me believe that I was predestined to become a geologist or similar. Predestined to discover the entrails of the Earth by finding stones on all its peaks, in all its caves, studying its landscapes and revealing how it had been able to build such complex constructions, with its mountain ranges, valleys, lakes... And how all this, somehow or other, works perfectly, like a Swiss watch, and how nothing and no one, not even the most powerful men and women, can halt its vital rhythm.

I think that was one of the few times I have said “I want to be”. I have always been more one of those people who say “I’ll try...”. I have always been a shy person, and I have always thought it was best to let things take their course, that everything would be alright in the end. So I let things take their course, and my destiny made everything alright in the end.

My childhood was that of a normal kid. I spent my time outside class playing near my parents’ house, on my own, with my sister or with school friends come to spend the afternoon with me. We played hide-and-seek and tag games, we built cabins and castles, we turned our surroundings into imaginary scenes from comics or films. I have never been one of those people who lock themselves away in their houses, and I was lucky enough to have parents who lived in a mountain refuge, where my father worked as a ranger. Our home stood at an altitude of 2,000 metres, on the northern slopes of La Cerdanya country, amid the peaks along the border with France and Andorra. My playground was never a street or a yard, but the forests of Cap del Rec, the cross- country ski slopes and the peaks of La Tossa Plana, La Muga, Perafita... That was where I began to discover the fascinating world of nature. When we came home from school, we would quickly drop our satchels in the dining room and charge out to climb the rocks, or swing from the branches of a tree in summer, or to race across snow- covered fields in our cross-country skis in winter.

Every night, before going to bed, in our pyjamas, my mother would take my sister and I for a walk in the forest, in the dark without a torch. We avoided the paths and, little by little, once our eyes got used to the dark and our ears to the silence, we could hear the wood breathing and sense the ground under our feet. We overestimate the sense of sight and, when unable to use it, we feel vulnerable, defenceless against the world and its dangers. But, what danger can there be in a Pyrenean forest at night? The truth is that the only natural predators, wolves and bears, have been rare for years now. As for the other animals, what danger can there be in meeting a fox or a hare for an animal ten or fifteen times larger than they? And the trees? You learn to hear how the wind brushes their leaves, allowing you to “see” them. And the earth? Your feet tell you where there are branches, grass, mud or water, whether the terrain is sloping upwards or downwards or if there is a sudden dip.

And so the years went by quickly, with games around the refuge and hikes at weekends and during the holidays. Whenever we had a couple of days free, we would be off to explore a new mountain. As soon as we could walk, we began by climbing up the mountains nearest to home, the peaks around the refuge. But, gradually, we began to seek out new adventures further afield. By the age of three I had already climbed Tossa Plana, Perafita and Muga. And as for the peaks of Aneto, I had done my first 4.000m by the age of six, and when I was ten I crossed the Pyrenees in forty-two days... But we never followed in our parents’ footsteps on these excursions. True, they took us to the summit and guided us, but it was up to us to find the path, to spot the signs and understand why our route took us in one direction and not another. We were not mere observers of what was going on around us; rather, the mountains took on a deeper meaning for us than just as a place for leisure activities. This was a living terrain that we needed to understand in order to move around it in safety, interpreting and taking steps to avoid any danger. In short, we needed to adapt to the terrain where we had been born. And it was in this way that our parents taught us to love the mountains, by making us feel part of them. Because, at heart, a mountain is like a person: to love them, you first have to understand them, and once you understand them, you know when they are angry and when they are happy, how to treat them, how to play with them, to look after them when they are hurt, when it is best not to bother them... but the difference is that, unlike another person, a mountain, nature, the earth, is enormously bigger than you. You should never forget that you are just a tiny speck, a dot in space, in infinity, and that it is the mountain that can decide at any time whether or not to erase that dot.

When I was eight, I went on a trip that I will never forget, and which I often remember when I am out running.
We reached La Coruña, in Galicia. The train stopped and we got off. The weather was cool and, although it wasn’t raining, it seemed that the first drops might start to fall at any moment. We got our bikes out and starting cycling. I was riding my mother’s mountain bike. It was quite new and, although I could hardly reach the pedals, I always wanted to ride it because of the coloured decorations on the spokes of both wheels. My sister was seven and she had had her bike for the last three years. Although it was still in perfect condition, she had grown much taller in that time and had to pedal madly to keep up. My mother rode an old Peugeot racing bike with the gear lever on the frame. Over the back she had shopped huge rucksack with everything the three of use
needed to spend a week cycling and camping in Galicia. We set off southwards and made good progress, easily adopting a reasonable
rhythm together. I went first on my huge bike, my sister followed me, pedalling away madly and my mother moved back and forth making sure we were both alright. In the midst of the drizzle, which made us damp all day, we reached Santiago de Compostela. During one of our rest stops, looking at an old Michelin road map, my mother said to me:
—Kilian, follow this line —pointing to the white line that ran beside the road — and keep to it at all times, even when you come to crossroads, as you will come to a road that leads off to the right, OK?
I understood perfectly and started off again, concentrating on keeping to the white line, even where it was broken at certain points, while my mother followed me at a distance with my sister. We began to come to crossroads, then there were cars overtaking me on the right and on the left, and the drivers of coaches and lorries shouting at me. But I followed my instructions to the letter and stuck to the line. Suddenly I saw my mother running along, pushing her bike, on the extreme left-hand side of the road. She was screaming at me to get out of the middle of the road:
—Kilian! What are you doing? Get off the dual carriageway!
By sheer bad luck, the line I was following led straight to the fast lane on the dual carriageway into Santiago. But I, following my mother’s orders to the letter, had stuck to it like glue. Now I left it and went back to where my mother was. Perspiring from the effort, she hugged me and then mended the puncture she had had while chasing after me.
The next three days were a fierce battle against the north wind. We took the winding roads along the coast as the wind tried to blow us back. My sister found it hard work climbing the hills on her little bike, and my mother had to look after both of us, me speeding along, my sister making slower progress. In spite of all the difficulties, a breezy afternoon with light clouds skipping through the skies saw us reach Cape Finisterre to watch a beautiful sunset over the horizon out to sea.
We had forgotten that, once the sun goes down, there is no light. As always, when we turned to go back in the same direction we had come, all I could think about was what my mother had told me to do: “Stop at the campsite with the green gates and two flags outside. I’ll come up with Naila”.
I took off on my bike, and my strong legs took me for mile after mile. To my right, the beaches began to disappear from view and the mountains began to loom towards me once more. “How strange, I thought the campsite was closer than this”, I said to myself, as it got darker and darker and the road became steeper and steeper. I reached the mountain pass and started to charge down the other side. Ahead and to the right, no light or any sign that I was coming to a campsite. I sped up in order to get there quicker. I was getting cold and I was tired. Suddenly, as I turned a bend, a small red car overtook me and stopped just in front of my bike. A short, stout man got out, laughing his head off. He was followed by my mother, who got out from the other door, still in her cycling boots.
—Didn’t you see the campsite?—she asked me, annoyed.
—Mmm... No, it wasn’t there. I saw beaches, then mountains—I replied, remembering everything I had seen since I started out.
—What about on your left?—she asked, looking at me in amazement.
I felt so stupid. There was a fifty-fifty chance that the campsite was on the left- hand side of the road, but I never thought of that. I smiled, laughing at myself, and got into the car with the campsite owner, who drove us to our tent, where my sister was cooking dinner.
Next day, we got up early so as to reach La Coruña that afternoon, as the train back to Puigcerdà left first thing the following day. This time, we all went together to avoid any more incidents, but on the last slope before entering the city my mother’s bike broke down. It had taken a lot of wear and tear over the years, and the chain and gears had become jammed. As we had not put any bicycle repair equipment in our twenty-kilo rucksack, we had to go to a little shop in a village nearby to buy oil.
After trying again and again with our hands, pulling everything we could find, we managed to free the chain, but the bike remained stuck in a low gear. As my mother could not now leave her feet on the pedals to go downhill, unless she wanted her legs to go round nineteen to the dozen, she went first with her legs on the handlebars and we followed to make sure no accidents occurred.
That night we slept in a hostel in the city centre, and the next morning we got up early to catch the train. On the outward journey we had had problems getting the bikes on the train with us, but this time we were better prepared, and packed them before leaving the hotel. We didn’t have any covers or boxes, so we had to pack them in our sleeping bags. This carefully-planned solution had just one problem: getting the bikes to
the station. As neither my sister nor I could carry those packages, which were bigger than us. The system we decided on was as follows: my mother and I would go halfway to the station carrying the first bicycle, and I would wait there with the package. She would then go back to get the second and then the third, and on this last journey she would also bring my sister Naila. This done, we then repeated the whole operation, this time finally getting to the station.
My sister and I were so good that we lost the chance to earn our first bit of pocket money. Passers-by, seeing two children on their own, looking tired after days of hard cycling and wearing clothes made dirty by the bike chain, sitting beside a huge sleeping bag, were moved and offered us money to buy food. We just looked at the people in amazement. We couldn’t understand why they thought we were so thin, for we’d just had breakfast and, of course, we refused to take their money.
We finally got to the train station, where the guard ordered us to take the bicycles out of the sleeping bags and stay near the doors, where we had to move them from left to right and back again to allow passengers to get off at the different stations. After some hours of this, a hostess finally felt sorry for us and allowed us to leave the bikes in the carriage they used to store the equipment needed on the train, and at last we could sleep until we got home.

Our trips went from being games to being activities, and from activities to sport. I began taking part in competitions when I started going to college, as I had also enrolled at the mountain skiing technical centre as a way of using up some of my surplus energy. Then training began, and I had to travel to compete races: at first all over the Pyrenees, later all over Europe. I got my first results, and that made we want to improve even more. With help from Maite Hernández, Jordi Canals and the whole team at the technical centre, not forgetting my mother, who took me all over the place so that I could train in the morning before school, my career seemed to be taking off and my greatest successes were still to come, even though I had won everything in all the lower categories.

However, life is always placing obstacles in our paths: on 22 December 2006, just the day after I had beaten Agustí Roc, my own personal reference point, for the first time, I was running home from the driving school and, leaping from one street to the next as I had done before on so many occasions, my feet got tangled up and I fell to the ground, hard. I felt a terrible pain in my left knee and right hand.
Well, I dragged myself home somehow and sat down on the sofa to wait for the swelling to go down and the pain to go away. Quite the opposite occurred, however, and by the early hours of the night my knee was so swollen that, despite my protests, they took me to hospital.
—You’ve broken your kneecap and the metatarsal bone in your hand—the doctor informed me, and my world fell to pieces as I listened.—The best thing we can do is to operate as soon as possible and put in a cerclage. That should get you right.
It was a difficult decision to take, and I was unable to think clearly at that moment. Things were going better and better for me in my sporting career, and at just eighteen years old I could not see anyway out of this. Was my career over? Would I recover from this injury? I would probably be able to do sport again, but could I get back to the levels that it had taken me so much hard work to achieve? I wanted to know it, and quickly. I could not bear the thought of a year without competition, training, sport. What would I do? My head was full of these questions as they operated on me to place a cerclage on my knee.
I needed to find other alternatives. If I could not return to high-level competition, I needed other motivations and goals to work towards. As a result, I used the three months I spent with my leg in plaster to find as much information as I could about mountain skiing. I searched out studies and technical tests that had been carried out on cross-country skiers in order to apply the knowledge to my sport. I learned how to improve tactically by reading psychology books. I spent whole nights in front of the computer, surfing sites on physiology and sports strategy in order to gain a more in- depth understanding of my body. This was also a way of avoiding sleepless nights with so many unanswered questions running around in my head.
In March I went into hospital to have the plaster removed. I was aghast when I first saw my leg after such a long time. No, that could not be my leg! It was impossible! My leg was strong, full of muscle. That strip of wire with fur growing on it could not be mine! Oh God! Then things really did look black to me. To console myself, I thought that, at least, with all that I had learned during my three months of intensive study, I would be able to maintain some kind of connection with sport.
My first sessions with the physiotherapist were horrible. I couldn’t even drag my leg along without electrostimulation. I couldn’t stand without the support of a crutch. How would I ever run again if I could not even stand? However, little by little, I got better and my leg began to put on some flesh. After a week I could stand without the
help of a walking stick, and if I could stand, then I could ski, couldn’t I? I tried. I went to the slopes and put on my ski boots for the first time in four months. I was pretty sure that the doctors wouldn’t be very happy about me skiing, but, really, all I was doing was standing up, and the boots supported my feet. It was the same thing as being at home and doing exercises... I started by climbing up the slopes and, though I was in pathetic shape physically, I saw that I really could do it, that I might be able to be myself again, and I felt as if the adrenalin was starting to flow through my veins once more. When I got to the top of the slopes I was as excited as if I had just won the Olympics. I sang, danced and shouted as if I were alone in the world. The other skiers all around look at me as if I were mad. In fact, after so many months of doing nothing, I must have lost a lot of neurons. Then, after the adrenalin rush, I became sensible again and asked myself the basic question: “How on earth am I going to get down the slope again?”
I had been so excited at seeing that I could ski again that I had not thought about the fact that, having got up, I would naturally have to get back down again. I started going down on the back of a friend who offered his help. Halfway down, though, we realised that this was not the best solution and I went down the rest of the way on one ski, supported my weight on one leg, the good one, whilst bending the bad one so that it did not touch the ground.
From then on, I had only one aim in mind: to persuade the doctors and physiotherapists to let me start training again. It was hard at first. When, grinning from ear to ear, I told the doctor that I had been skiing and it had not gone so badly, she replied loud and clear:
—I’ll put you back in plaster!
—No, no, no, please! I’ll do everything I need to do. Gym, swimming pool, physio... but not plaster, please!
Seeing that there was no hope of getting anywhere with the doctors, I tried my physiotherapist. He told me that when I could bend my knee ninety degrees I could begin working on the exercise bike and that, meanwhile, I could go to the pool to walk under water. I then started to do everything I could in order to bend my leg: I sat on it to put pressure on, I lifted ever-heavier weights to gradually increase mobility in the joint and, little by little, I made progress. As for the swimming pool, I went one day, but it was obvious that walking under water, going up and down, surrounded by senior citizens was not much fun, and it occurred to me that I could reinterpret what my physiotherapist had said. He had talked about walking under water. Well, what is a pool
but water, and water and snow are the same thing, only in different states... It wasn’t my fault if physics was so capricious. So I started walking, skis on my feet, on snow until, three weeks later, I could bend my leg the famous ninety degrees, and then I started work on the exercise bike. The first session wasn’t a complete disaster, and my physiotherapist told me I could go to the gym in Puigcerdà to continue working on the bike.
Well, I did go to the gym, but I could only bear about fifteen minutes watching music videos on the TV screen in front of me, and the thought struck me that, when you get down to it, ninety degrees are ninety degrees, whether you are on an exercise bicycle or a racing bike. I looked out of the window. The sun was shining and the temperature was good. I went home, got out my bike and went for a ride: one port, another port, and that is how I started to combine skiing with cycling. Really, I was only doing what they told me: to walk in water and to ride a bicycle. It was just better not to tell them exactly how I was following their orders as long as they didn’t ask. The problem came when my doctor saw the classifications for the Catalan Mountain Ski Championship.
—Well, it was near my home... so I went along to watch, and as I had done well last year, it turns out they had a bib number for me, and I can never say no to anyone, so I took them up on it. I took it easy at first, I didn’t think I would even finish, but in the end it was easier to finish than to go up there by car, because the roads are terrible... But I only went down on one leg, you know. I was really careful and didn’t push things too hard... —that was my defence, but I couldn’t repress a smile as I told my story.
—Alright, anyway, there’s nothing we can do about it now—she replied—But at least be careful not to fall until we’ve taken the iron screws out of your knee.
And so, having been given carte blanche, I began to train like mad and, little by little, returned to my form before my unfortunate injury, even improving on earlier levels.
** *
There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to decide which path to take and, once you have decided, it is no good wondering what would have happened if you had chosen a different route. You just have to enjoy what you find along the way as much as you can. We cannot know what lies along other paths, even though we often wake up at night dreaming that they were better. The truth is, perfection only exists in our interior,
in what we believe is perfect. All paths lead to different places, but only our own steps can enable us to find sparks of happiness along the way.
The decision has been made: it is at the age of eighteen that you have to start choosing the life you want, a job, a career, a family, the food in the fridge, a car, a home, a bank account, whether you want to keep a pet, the bedspread, the kitchen furnishings, your cutlery and table linen, the TV channel you want to watch, what you want for lunch, how to kill time on a Sunday afternoon, your future, your life. No, I did not choose all that. I chose a different life.
I lived in an eighteen-square-metre studio flat in the Grand Hotel in Font-romeu. I shared it with a friend, though there were usually also five or six other people sleeping on the floor. It was on the ground floor of an enormous early-twentieth-century building that overlooks the town of Font-romeu. The room lay to the right of the great hall, whose huge spiral staircases with marble banisters evoked the splendour of the site’s bourgeois French origins. Now, though, dark and empty, it looked more like an imitation of the hotel in the film The Shining. The door to the room was made of thick wood covered by a coat of paint in some anonymous colour that was beginning to flake. The only things that distinguished it from the more than fifty doors on this wing of the building were the keyhole and a small gilt aluminium plaque on which you could read the number “18” written over in felt-tip pen. Once inside, on the left was a lavatory partitioned off by a sliding door and on the right was a bathroom with mirror and a small hip-bath. The room was, as I have mentioned, around eighteen square metres in size, and had just one window, though this covered the entire north side. It was often left half-open as a provision for those not-infrequent days when we would return home to find the doors locked and the keys lost, who knows where. The floor was covered by a thick blue wall-to-wall carpet, which we had cut ourselves, and the only real furniture were two bunk beds beside the left-hand wall. To the right was the cooker, with three rings and an oven, in which we kept two pans, a frying pan and a grill. Beside it was a pile of food: a packet of chocolate-flavoured cereals, five packets of biscuits, two half- kilo packets of spaghetti, packets of salt and oregano, a bottle of olive oil (the tiny fridge was rarely full), two cans of fried tomato, a kilo pack of grated cheese and a three-kilo slab of Beaufort cheese: this was our diet. In fact, we usually made a pot of pasta with tomato sauce, which we warmed up when we came back from training, when our strength was failing, before going on again until, once more, we began to weaken.
The thing was to take in as many calories as possible so as to be able to keep going for as long as we could endure.
Facing the bunk beds, on a chair, was a small television set which always played the same DVD: La tecnica dei campioni, featuring footage and technical analyses of the greatest mountain skiers of the time. Before training, a video session helped to motivate us to give our all as we attempted to imitate the skiing style of Stéphane Brosse and the way Guido Giacomelli used his ski poles.
Our clothes were piled on the floor, under the window, in two heaps. At the back were our uniform trousers, shirts and jerseys, in the front, our training kit: ski suits, thermal undershirts, trousers and tights, gloves, caps.... Next to our clothes was the material workshop, the iron, the wax for our skis, scissors, cutters, bits of cloth of all kinds, a radial arm saw, rope and string, which we used to make and destroy, to construct and dismantle, all the material we possessed. The rest of the room was covered by what we called “our best girlfriends”: bicycles, trainers, boots and skis, which received preferential treatment. On the wall hung a poster of the twentieth Pierra Menta, a four-day race mountaineering race for teams of two people, known as the mountain skiing Tour de France. This was the race that had been won by the greatest skiers in history, the race you had to take part in at least once in your life, the one we dreamed of every day, at training, when eating, when sleeping. Behind the entrance door we had pinned up the Skyrunner Manifesto, the text that gave us strength to keep running for as long as we could, even in adverse weather conditions.
That is how, between these four walls, joined by our deep desire to destroy our bodies through hours and hours of training, Fuenri’s Factory came into being. A group of friends with just two thoughts in their heads: metres and more metres. Nothing else mattered. Where or how you slept, what you ate or, if necessary did not eat. What mattered was to train and to compete to the maximum.
I remember leaving home on my bike, my skis tied to my rucksack, cycling 60 kilometres to reach the snow, skiing until it got dark and returning home at night, by the light of my head lantern, freezing cold. I remember putting up my tent in the car park in Astún the night before a race and getting up at minus fifteen degrees, unable to take the tent down again because it had become frozen to the ice on the ground, before taking part in the Spanish Championships. I remember countless Saturday nights sleeping on the seat of a car or even in the trunk, in a sleeping bag, ready to compete on the Sunday.
Our whole lives revolved around competing. We slept and ate just enough so that we could train, and we gave our all in training so that we could compete and obtain the best results we were capable of achieving. All our income, which was reduced only to grants based on results and race prizes, went to pay for the flat and to buy the best equipment, which we then destroyed in our workshop in order to make it as light as possible, with the obvious consequences. We bought our boots from different shops, as we were embarrassed to go in and buy a new pair for the fourth consecutive week. The culmination came one day in March when, with no light in the studio, as it was more important to have a good pair of carbon ski poles than electricity, one Wednesday, I was with Álvaro, my flat-mate and race companion. We were lying on the floor, with the 200 euros rent money for the month scattered all over the carpet, and we were trying to decide whether it was more important to give the money to the owner, Madame Levy, or to leave that afternoon for Arêches Beaufort, the centre of the world for us in those days, and the place where the Pierra Menta would start the next day.
Needless to say, the result of our deliberations was a foregone conclusion, and a few minutes later we were loading the white Peugeot Partner with our cases and skis. We picked up Naila, my sister, and Mireia, my best friend, who formed a team together, and set off on the A9 motorway to reach Arêches seven hours later. That is where our Odyssey began, as we tried to persuade the organisers to let us take part. Of course, registrations for the race were like gold dust and even though we were in the junior category, places were limited and entries had closed long before. But we did not give up hope and, after hours of running all over the place, talking to all the organisers, we finally obtained a starting number. A starting number for the Pierra Menta. That was where our dream began. We slept in the girls’ room, since we had spent the 200 euros on the entry fees and couldn’t afford any more money for a hotel.
The race was great: fantastic atmosphere, good vibrations, a win on the Sunday and second place in the overall standings of the junior category. And, above all, lots and lots of adrenalin as we got up in the morning in the knowledge that only one thing mattered that day: to compete.