Wherein DF travels to Mitteleuropa and recounts his merrie adventures to his adoring broad readership.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Three-nation ambulation

Some of the B.R. that are fleeter of foot (and hardier of lung) may have run cross-country in high school or even college. Fair play to ye. However, I will wager that no members of the B.R. have ever run across a country, by which I mean not traversing a miniscule slice of its geographical area, but rather beginning at one side of its main highway on one foreign border and traversing said highway at pace until crossing the same nation`s border on the other side. Yet yesterday, B.R., that is exactly what I did.

It began with a bus ride to Buchs, on the Swiss border, just on the western bank of the Rhine across from the Liechtensteiner burg of Schaan. I ran from Switzerland into the FL, feeling great, until I saw a sign reading "Feldkirch 15km." Feldkirch is the Austrian town just on the opposite side of the highway that traverses the FL, which--according to maps I had consulted--I understood to be a mere six km away. Turns out that the Buchs-Felkirch distance is 6km as the crow flies, but the actual distance traveling along the highway is significantly longer.

Now I realize that 15km is not a particularly daunting distance, though somewhat hefty, but the problems this presented were several: I was running in a tiny but transalpine nation, and thus at altitude; I was out of shape, not having run in weeks; and I am not accustomed to running that far even when in shape (a 10k is as far as I ever feel it necessary to run, and even that is a rarity).

But I persevered, through landscapes that ranged from spectacularly Heidi-of-the-Swiss-Alps-esque to dull and industrial. And as I exited the town of Schaan and entered Nendeln, I realized that there was no way I'd make it without a break, and so, dear B.R., I crapped out. I pulled up, went into a BP station, got a Powerade, and walked for a spell. Not too long, mind you, but long enough that I may have tarnsihed the cachet of running across an entire country. That said, when I began again, I felt much better, and upon seeing the sign announcing that the international border was a mere 1.7km away, I felt marvelous.

There were, alas, no crowds to greet me upon my arrival in Austria. My head was wreathed with no laurels, and no journalists vied for my attention. No one even checked my passport (which I had stashed in my pocket in a ziploc bag to assure that my carefully collected transit stamps would not be ruined by sweat). Instead, I had a diet coke, made some calls with my Austria-only phone card (the FL has its own phone system, annoyingly enough), and waited for the Liechtenstein Bus to take me and my idiosyncratic sense of obscure accomplishment back to the heart of the prinicpality.