Day 4 – Empoli to Florence
After speaking with Ray we decided we would not take the train back to San Miniato where we left off because we would need to run an extra 8k to get back to our route, and we had already added more kilometres than expected in the first 3 days of our run. The next closest station that intersected with out route was Empoli.
Saturday morning in Florence is beautifully serene, except when you have us bozos racing through the streets to the train station. We decided on the 7:45 train so that we could be back to running before 9AM. Since we had 45 minutes to sit, we took our recap video:
We snapped a quick pic from the square as we were about to start – yay!!
The smiles didn’t last long! Right after this picture Steve turns the eTrex on and all our tracks are gone. We sat on a bench for 30 minutes to try to get them back – but no luck.
Little known fact: I spent Good Friday at my office mapping our files on Google maps as a backup. It took hours but this very moment made it so worth it!
Today’s route was fairly straightforward thankfully – the last 3 days taught us that the hardest part is navigating through the towns because it’s easy to get off track!
It wasn’t long before we were back on the berms running along the Arno river. We at least knew that if we kept the Arno in sight we would find our way to Florence!
It was another beautiful day, never too hot thanks to the wind and gorgeously sunny. Until I could get my hands on sunscreen I was relying on coconut oil as a barrier. After 3 days of sun my ears now had blistered. Today was the day we were going to find sunscreen or my ears were going to fall off!
We stopped to take a few pictures of the graffiti in a park. It was pretty cool.
We did reasonably well with the maps up to here though it added to our time because we would need to check at every turn to make sure we were still on route. This just happened to be the day where my printed maps deviated from the route because I couldn’t see on Google earth how we were going to be able to get from the path by the Arno back across the train tracks, and it looked a little sketchy to be honest. Well in reality my detour on this stretch of highway was several kilometres long and Steve and I were both worried that we weren’t going to survive it. There was absolutely no shoulder, just a busy road with an 80km/hr speed limit (guideline only) and a foot from the road’s edge was a wall with a tall fence (and razor wire) to prevent trespassing over the tracks. After a couple of KMs we were DONE with the insanity of this road (there may have been words exchanged 😉 ) and lo and behold a guy goes zooming by on the other side of the tracks (must have been on bike, we couldn’t see him because of the walls) and just like that we are on a mission to find our way across. Whatever unsafe scenario I made up in my mind from those Google earth pics of the other side of the tracks had to be safer than this highway. With renewed determination we plod ahead until we come across a hole in the fence and crawl through, sprint across 5 sets of tracks and BOOYEAH out through a hole on the other side. Whoop!! Wouldn’t you know it but the path was STUNNING crushed white gravel beaming up at us! I’m pretty sure we heard angels singing! And here is where we decided to ALWAYS TRUST THE ROUTE that was mapped for us.
An hour or so later we came to this bridge, which is another milestone in today’s journey: it’s where we cross the Arno. From hereon in the river will be on our right! Each of the runs we broke down into milestones, and this was a big one!
I know this footbridge looks benign but I couldn’t cross it because it set off vertigo symptoms. Steve took the footbridge and I opted to run ahead to the car bridge a block away. Let’s just say we needed a bit of break from each other at this point 😉
We met up on the other side and continued along the Arno until we ran into navigation problems closer to Florence. We were in a park and the map directed us to cross the Arno again, which didn’t make sense because we were supposed to keep the Arno on our right and we certainly didn’t want to go back to where we came from! We couldn’t figure out where to go, so we went down every path we could for a few minutes only to realize the paths went nowhere (back to a parking lot, back to where we came from, loops around to nothing…).
What you can’t see very well in the photo above is the road on the map I titled “unnamed road”. Ugh. We used the maps on our phones to try to figure out where to go and were fairly confident if we crossed the Arno again we would get back across at some point and be where we should be.
Turns out that that body of water wasn’t the Arno 😆
5k to go to the city limits! We kicked it up a notch because we were so close!
We stopped for water at the fountain in the park on the outskirts of the historic centre. So good.
The Parco delle Cascine is beautiful to run through and we were off gravel and back on pavement! Boy that felt good on the ankles! But it was so strange to be seeing people again. We hardly saw anyone all day.
Florentine fact: when you’re running to the Ponte Vecchio and you can see it in the distance and you think ‘it’s the next bridge!’, it’s actually several bridges away.
FINALLY we made it to our finish and we had a cheering section with Jen, Sylvie, Jo-Anne and Brian (and some very confused onlookers). Thanks so much for tracking us and waiting for us to come in! ♡
“it’s hard to run when you don’t know where you’re going”. But we got it DONE!!
Since it was 4:30 (4:30!!! 😀 ) we decided that we would reconvene at 5:30 to give us a chance to get cleaned up. We would eat in at our place so that we could work on fixing the eTrex.
Brian and I went shopping and I found an adapter that would work with the eTrex (30 euros 😮 ) and I won the lottery (SUNSCREEN!!!).
Jen brought her laptop to the apartment so that I could re-download the files to the eTrex. I couldn’t connect to the internet well enough to access the files, but apparently just plugging the USB into the computer was enough for it to give us the files back! (fast forward a couple of days and discovered that popping the batteries out and back in was what resets it to get our files back!).
We were back in business.
Shoes: Altra One 2.5
Hats: Cinque Terre Trekking
Packs: Nathan VaporAir (Steve) / VaporAiress (Una)
Navigation: eTrex and crude maps
Tracking: SPOT GEN3
Watch: Garmin 220
Run Nutrition: Strongbars, Tailwind
Recovery: Nuun hydration, CEP Compression socks, Italian red wine, salami