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Date : 22nd January, 2015
Time : 59’ 52”
Total distance run to date : 480 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/683240877
The difference between Ecuador’s home and away records during qualification for the 2014 World Cup is startling.
They had the best home record of any South American side en route to Brazil. La Tricolor won seven of their eight games in Quito, only drawing against Argentina, the top team in the qualifying group. The 22 points they garnered in Quito represented 88 per cent of their total points tally.
In contrast, Ecuador managed no wins and just three draws on the road during the qualifying campaign. Why the dramatic difference?
I think it’s generally accepted that the Ecuadorian team benefits from the altitude in Quito – 2820m / 9252 feet. And if the altitude affects professional footballers – many of whom are younger than me – then how will I fare?
A fair comparison, I feel, as most outfield players cover c 10k in a match – the distance I’m about to run. Of course they do get 120 minutes (including half-time) to cover their 10k and I only give myself 60 minutes.
I set off in the rain down Ave 6 Diciembre towards the Centro Historico at a gentle pace. Swiftly moving to a lower gear at the merest hint of an incline.
Once I reach the centre, it’s an unpleasant climb to the Basilico before heading down Venezuela to the Plaza Grande and the cathedral. Past the Museo del Cuidad and to the bottom of the steps that lead up El Panecillo – the hill that overlooks Quito and which is is topped by a huge statue of La Virgen de Quito.
One look at those steps confirms that I’m not visiting El Panecillo on this run and I head back into town via Garcia Moreno past Iglesia San Francisco before a final circle or two in a relatively flat part of town.
I can’t say it was easy – Quito’s hilly and the streets are crowded. And did I mention that’s its quite high? My run peaked at 2843m – 9325 feet – which is the highest I’ve run to date.
However, I did finish in 59’52” – less than hour. That’s twice as fast as most footballers.
I could almost hear the post-match analysis. “The lad Thompson’s put in a decent shift. Not much skill or style and most of his work was off the ball. But he ran his socks off and put our pampered, over-paid, so-called ‘professional’ footballers to shame”
Quick PS to say that I got hauled off by narcotics police at Quito airport. They interviewed me in the check-in queue and weren’t happy with my story that I was a tourist who’d spent one day in Colombia, followed by one day in Ecuador, and was about to fly to Amsterdam and London. My further explanation that I was running 10k in every country in the world didn’t seem to help. Clearly that wasn’t credible…
They then searched my luggage and the first thing they found was the plastic bag containing my running shoes and socks. The search didn’t last much longer.
All very friendly afterwards and I believe the police greatly enjoyed my “I’m just a runner, not a drugs runner” quip.