Cross Popular de Navidad de San Sebastián de la Gomera

Date: 23rd Dec 2010
Distance: 2.33K
Type: Road

The final straight of the raceAs its name indicates, the Cross Popular de Navidad de San Sebastián de la Gomera is a series of races held at Christmas in San Sebastián, the capital town of La Gomera (which is a Canary Island off the coast of Tenerife). This was the 13th time that they have been held.

I was in San Sebastián for Christmas, and, just by chance, saw a poster in the bus station advertising the races. The races were chaotically but reasonably well organised. Although the start time was 5pm, nothing happened then; there were about 4 runners milling around; a few minutes later two vans turned up, one with a fold up table and the other with a fold up tent. The races started about an hour later.

There were numerous boys races and girls races some with only three runners which made it very competitive. All the races consisted of running round the pedestrianised area of San Sebastián with the older children doing multiple laps. There was a lap counter which indicated how many laps were left for the front runner.

Although all the announcements were of course in Spanish, earlier I'd spoken to the organiser who spoke some English and he had indicated the vet men would do 5 laps. In between two races, I ran the circuit both to get a feel of what it would be like and to see how long it was: my Garmin made it 450 metres. Later there was some confusion as to whether the senior men and the vet men would run together.

Eventually, (at 7.50pm) it was my turn to race. There were a lot of runners for this the final race. After doing one lap, I saw the lap counter was 7 and I wondered what was happening. Each circuit was tricky as you had to negotiate round old people moving slowly with walking sticks, loose yapping dogs and shoppers pushing pushchairs. The photo shows the final section of the circuit.

The lap counter wasn't much use to me as it was indicating the laps-to-go of the fastest senior men, and they were lapping me. Having nearly completed 5 laps, whilst about 200 metres from the finish line, I asked 5 or 8 in my best Spanish of somebody who I also thought was a vet; he said cinquo; and so I then sprinted away from him to the line. Here is a link to a Google map showing the route recorded by Garmin.

I came first in my age category but there were only two other competitors! For the presentations, there were stands of increasing heights for 3, 2 and 1. I wondered whether the vet men would get prizes, and so I hung around for another half hour. Eventually, they did and so one by one the three vets went up. Finally, there I was, standing on the number 1 stand shaking hands with the 2nd and the 3rd and receiving an 8" high trophy!

The above photo comes from It was taken by Rafael Gomez and it is released with a Creative Commons licence.

Barry Cornelius
Klaus ???
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