By Peter Beveridge
Castelnou de Bages Punk Trail 15/9/19. Running a homage to Catalonia’s and Spain’s anti-fascist resistance.
Note by the editor: This is the route of the shortest one, the longer (the one run by Peter, was 18k long)
There are events in your life you will always remember. The Punk Trail at Castellnou de Bages is one of mine.
It started with a suggestion from David Galligani, a font of knowledge on interesting runs, while on a trail run in the Collserola hills outside Barcelona: “You should try a Punk Trail,” he said innocently, “It’s different.”
On the morning of the race a steady flow of people came in dropping off bags of food for the local food bank – an important element of any Punk Trail and an indication that I was entering a different type of race. I didn’t notice anything odd at first. A good mix of people and lots of families. I had been hoping for a Mohican hairstyle, but alas not. A sound system started up – not quite Stiff Little Fingers but a good sound nonetheless. Another important criteria of a Punk Trail is that there is no timing chip for the runner to wear. Most runners seemed to have a watch or mobile but there were to be no official times.
The 18km run started fast and slightly downhill along a track and onto sections of road closed by the local police before heading to a wooded area. The first shock came with the steepness of the rough paths. Soon it became impossible to run and I had to walk the steeper sections. Even once over the crest of a climb I found the twists and turns of a narrow ‘sheep path’ through dense groves of trees extremely hard. I was relieved when I could finally see the first of two aid stations appearing where I could get a drink and some food.
I had just turned down the offer of a beer and been chided in perfect English for holding up the queue as I fumbled a water refill, when I saw my first ‘Maquis’. As I set off, a woman waving a pistol who appeared to have escaped a Second World War movie started questioning me about Fascists.
Suddenly I was in an impromptu language lesson and having the grammar of my answers corrected at gun point! Eventually I was dismissed and as I sped down the next track a man in full period military uniform with an Alsatian dog on a lead stepped out in front of me and demanded to know my allegiances before reluctantly directing me on!
By the time of the second aid station I was in a bit of trouble. Some slopes had been so steep in the woods that the Punk Trail organizers had left a rope tied to a tree for runners to grab on to.
At the end I was exhausted but after a short dash for the finish there was time for a free beer, botifarra (or tortilla for vegetarians) on bread and some more punk music. Free showers and the use of the swimming pool were also popular.
David was was right. A Punk Trail was “different”. This Punk Trail was not so much a race but more a difficult fun run organised where solidarity and history were more important than a personal best.
This Punk Trail was specifically themed on the history of the area where a band of anti-Franco guerillas had their stronghold. Castelnou de Bages has a museum dedicated to their story. http://bagesturisme.cat/en/activitat/museu-dels-maquis-historia-de-la-resistencia/