Walking El Camino de Santiago
Former nzherald.co.nz news editor Simon Winter takes on the 775-kilometre Spanish Pilgrim Trail

Preparing for a hike of epic proportions

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El Camino de Santiago begins in the pretty French border town of St-Jean Pied-de-Port (pictured) and runs 775 kilometres to Santiago De Compostella in the north-west of Spain. Photo / Creative Commons image by Wikimedia user Harrieta171
El Camino de Santiago begins in the pretty French border town of St-Jean Pied-de-Port (pictured) and runs 775 kilometres to Santiago De Compostella in the north-west of Spain. Photo / Creative Commons image by Wikimedia user Harrieta171

After careful consideration, the over/under for our 'unique' adventure is around nine.

The number of blisters, kilos lost, rows with the Mrs and the average number of wet days in May.

On the of eve of my life's greatest physical challenge, the thought of actually completing the 775-kilometre Spanish Pilgrim Trail is utterly impossible to comprehend.

The route, from St-Jean Pied-de-Port, on the French side of the Pyrennes, to Santiago De Compostella, on Spain's far north-western coast, is travelled by up to 100,000 'pilgrims' each year.

Though many complete only a section, up to 100kms, others travel from further afield, such as the French town of Arles - Van Gogh's home town - racking up distances well in excess of ours.

By sheer numbers, our journey is daunting: At least 22km - a half marathon - per day for 35 days. We might stay an extra night in Pamplona after day three, but that's about it.

A blister, a kilo, a 'robust debate' and certainly some rain every four days seems about right.

Whatever happens, it will be tough.

Two years ago we walked 43km around Lake Waikaremoana - and it nearly killed me.

After that we're talking single figures.

For this trip, my fitness training included trekking through Hillary Trail bog, a climb up Rangitoto, and lots of talking about it.

My partner Lisa, of course, is a fitness addict. Twice-daily running, swimming, biking and gym going has her ready to go.

The disconnect is a constant source of - how would I put it? Let's say 'discussion'.

Yet, despite all the trepidation, I can't wait to start. I love a challenge and this is huge.

The first day - 27km up and over the Pyrennes will be very (very!) tough, but if I can nail that, it'll be a boost.

So we'll see how it goes. Your suggestions are welcome.

* Simon Winter is a former nzherald.co.nz news editor. He and partner Lisa are following the sun through Europe. They're finding the weather somewhat colder than expected.

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