Sunday, 24 June 2018

Day 18

As far as sleeping in a cold, damp buggy on an inflatable mattress with a puncture goes last night wasn’t too bad. Once I’m inside Chappie, I usually feel quite secure. I picked a decent spot to camp and apart from one car pulling up for a close look it was an uneventful overnight stop on the outskirts of Moftinu Mic. 

Of course, the incentive today was to get the remaining 16 miles done in order to get to the hotel in Satu Mare on time to watch England play Panama. It was a 1500 kick off local time and would require maximum effort and minimum breaks to get there on time. 

It was 0715 by the time I packed up Chappie and set off. It was a bit chilly so I had my fleece on as well as a technical t-shirt and base layer. I think I’ve had the base layer on since the church hall on Friday. It saves on washing I suppose! 

Right from the off, I noticed a great deal of southbound traffic mainly comprising buses and mini vans full of people. I wonder where they were going? 

I pulled over after 6 miles in Doba. I felt quite tired and had a few energy bars and some water with electrolytes in. While I was sat eating, an elderly couple pulled up alongside in their car. I explained that I was travelling from Beograd to Moskova using those names and using my fingers to show that I was on foot. They kindly gave me 20 Leu and I paid the equivalent pounds into my Virgin Money Giving page. I think that they had just come from church. As I ran past a church in Decebal at the 10 mile point I heard singing. It was a small church and there were quite a few people standing outside.

The bus loads of traffic seemed to have stopped leaving only the regular stuff. There was also the occasional horse drawn cart. 

I reached Satu Mare at noon and at the 13 mile point I was stopped by the Politia. The English speaking officer asked where I was going. I told him the name of my hotel and showed him my route. He instructed me to take the first of two bridges into the city as it was busy further down. This added 1/2 mile to my day so wasn’t too bad. I took the opportunity to tell him about my journey and just like all of the other policemen that I’ve talked to we departed on excellent terms after a hearty handshake. 

I ended up on a bike track in Satu Mare. It was a little tricky as there were people on it but there weren’t too many hold ups.

 I eventually crossed the first bridge as per the policeman’s instructions. It was quite steep and a bit of effort was required. I spotted a very strange structure to my right in the distance as I crossed the river Somes. 

The city centre was very quiet, caused me no issues and I found my hotel after 16.3 miles of running. I arrived at 1315 which meant that I had nearly 2 hours before the start of the England match. I used the time to completely empty Chappie before placing him in a secure place in the hotel grounds. 

I watched the England match after a much needed shower and was so pleased that they won 6-1. There was a gulf in class between England and Panama but you can only beat what is in front of you. Well done England. 

After the match, the next priority was food. I found a local tennis club near the hotel and the only English speaking person was the chef. He told me that he’d previously worked in Dublin but was from Satu Mare. I told him about my journey and showed him a picture of Chappie. Hopefully, this helped to get the message across as to how hungry I was. 

He asked me what I wanted and I chose some soup followed by pork steaks off his BBQ, some fries and salad. It was all delicious and the soup and steak was very well seasoned. The fries, however, were a strange taste for me. By that I mean I’m not used to fried food. Seasoned with a little salt, they were mind blowingly delicious. 

I told the chef I’d be back for breakfast and probably tea. He said there would be no English speaking people at breakfast but they do omelettes. Perfect! All that remained for me to do was return to the hotel and soak my feet in Tea Tree Oil using my collapsible kitchen sink. This is a piece of kit that Donna spotted and it’s been very important to fill with water and dip my feet in. The sink shrinks down to a very small size. It’s a brilliant design. 

Once I’d soaked my feet I placed antiseptic on the vulnerable areas. Unfortunately there is a minor infection which I’ll spend the next 3 days treating. That’s my lay person’s assessment and it’s all driven by sight and smell. Mostly smell! 

I’m so pleased to have made it to Satu Mare a few hours ahead of schedule. Having the England match to aim for has really focused my efforts and a couple of big days have been put in as a result. My breaks have been kept to the bare minimum and I’ve made time to eat. Although most of the time I almost have to force feed myself food. 

Donna (pictured below at last year’s Great North Run) has managed to talk me through some tough times over the last 10 days. She’s constantly working behind the scenes and has been an important part of being able to clock up nearly 300 miles since I left Belgrade. 

Add onto that the unexpected support from many different areas of Serbia and Romania and you can begin to see how I’ve managed to get this far. 

Finally, the support on the Run Geordie Run Facebook and Twitter pages has been brilliant. I took the opportunity to have a look at the map this afternoon. There’s a respectable distance between my current position of Satu Mare and Belgrade. 

The next phase of miles begin to be ran on Thursday after 3 recovery days. It will take 7 days to run the 150 miles to Kalush in Ukraine. There are some mountains between there and Satu Mare to add a bit of difficulty to proceedings. I’m looking forward to the next challenge and also a change of scenery. I’ve been on the E671 for what seems like a lifetime. I just hope that Ukraine is as kind to me as Serbia and Romania have been.