Before I came to La Palma, I thought that I would easily be able to join a female basketball team, as it is the second biggest sport in Spain after football. I thought that within a few months I would have many pictures of me posing in my kit with my team members, from the end of each game. But I was very wrong…
I don’t want to generalise or make judgements, but from what I have seen, people in La Palma, well women in La Palma just aren’t into sports that much, much less team sports as there are no female basketball or football teams (to my knowledge) in the whole island. Only school teams where the players are under 18 and play in tournaments against the other schools on the island.
When I arrived I remember desperately wanting to join some type of sports team/club as without physical activity I could see myself putting on the pounds and getting lazy. The teachers at my school didn’t know about any teams I could train with and when I asked some boys in the street who had a basketball and basketball kit on they pretty much laughed at me when I said I wanted to join an adult female bball team. I still find it hard to believe that on an island with over 80,000 inhabitants there aren’t more than 10 women who want to play basketball. Anyway, I am still involved in basketball refereeing when they call me to table official or referee games.
There is a long avenue next to the seafront, maybe 3km in total and it is a popular place for people to go to run and walk….yes walk. It is funny to people watch here as you see a whole range of people from La Palma. There are people in sporty gear, shorts, crop tops, caps etc…then you see people in leggings, hoodies, full length tracksuits and jackets. Bearing in mind that the air humidity here is often over 70%. What is stranger is that it’s not unusual to see the people in sporty gear and flashy trainers walking along the avenue with their friends or whatsapping on their mobile and the people in hoodies running. I don’t understand it.
There are many races here in La Palma, especially mountain races that are often 10, 25 or 40km in distance. I am not brave enough to go running in the mountains as one trip on a rock and I’d have a broken ankle or worse. But last weekend I ran in a 10km road and rocky race in the Military Quarters. My final time was 1 hour 14 minutes, I came 6th in the female “senior” category, which was for people aged 18 – 35. I was so pleased with myself for completing it and at the end of the race I ran with my English flag to the finish line.
Next Friday I will be competing in another race, this time a duathlon, with is a 2.5km run, 1km swim (in the sea) and then another 2.5km run. I am really excited about it as my Mum and little sister will be there to watch me and from what I’ve heard, not many people like swimming in the sea, so hopefully as an ex squaddie swimmer I will gain some ground on the competition in the water.
Through a friend I met on couchsurfing I heard about an exercise/running/keep fit group called Aldake Extreme. It is led by a group of young guys and the main activities are crossfit training and ultimate frisbee. They also do running, athletics, hiking and other activities. They are a great group of guys and I’m really happy to have stumbled across them. The training sessions can be brutal and they are often on the beach, meaning I come home covered from head to toe in (black) sand. It is a lot of fun and I have met some great people whilst working out.
For example, last night’s crossfit session included:
40 wall jumps (climbing up a wall that was at belly-button height)
30 press ups
TWICE! (in round 2 each exercise had 10 less repetitions)
Then a speed exercise, running on the sand through cones.
Followed by 10 minutes of abdominals and different types of sit ups.
It’s hard work, but I love it and during the night I sleep really well and wake up feeling more energised than ever!