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Wednesday 19th March 2003
Albatroz hotelSunning at the AlbatrozIt's March so we are back to Portugal for a relaxing weekend in Cascais, just outside Lisbon, interupted by a run around the 1/2 marathon.

This year we are delighted to be joined by Andra and Michael King, good friends of our regular companions, Rob and Rachel.
Albatroz poolCascais palaceThe weather is excellent with blue skies although the wind is a bit chilly. This does not stop anyone from sunning by the pool at the ever excellent Albatroz hotel.

Ross and Vicky especially excited to be staying in the best room in the hotel this year - top right window in photo on left.
Maona surf schoolRob packing carbsSaturday is the first day this season for Vicky's brother Sasha's surf school on Gincho beach. We all go down to visit him and are then enormously impressed by the local cafe. Rob tucks into a beer as we settle down to an excellent lunch surrounded by lively locals and their numerous children.

We compete to see which of our children can concoct the greatest lies about their activities back in England.
Andra tackles a kebabThe team enjoyed a good lunchThe Gincho beach bar finds the perfect way to serve kebabs that you can get onto your plate without flicking them half way across the room.

After an excellent feed we all head out into the March sunshine for a bit of tourism.
Capo de RocaViews of LisbonInstead of the usual trip around Lisbon we head up the coast. First a visit to Capo de Roca - the most westerly point in Mainland Europe (nb Rob the Dingle peninsula is 1 degree further west). Then up into the Sintra forest for stunning views over Lisbon and the Tagus.
Arriving at the stationStart of raceSunday Morning and Rob and I are off to the race - the usual car-bus-train logistics to get there then a steady start along with 20,000 other 1/2 marathon and fun runners. I pulled a hamstring a week earlier and are very grateful to be able to run at all.


Leaders stride outVictorious RobRob celebrates breaking the 2 hour barrier for a the first time ever in this race. Normally the crowds and heat reduce the chance of a good time but this time he cracks it. Meanwhile the sight of the leaders going past while we are less than half way round the course is pretty amazing.
Happy finishersThe WinnersRob and Ross celebrate completing the course in from of the explorers monument. Meanwhile we are in awe of the two winners - Martin Lel from Kenya in 1hr 10s and Derartu Tulu from Ethiopia in 1hr 9m 19s. Paul Tergat comes 7th in the men's race while Joyce Chepchumba makes 3rd in the ladies.

After this it's back to the hotel for a celebratory lunch, more liquid refreshment and a good sleep. We will be back next year.
Room 101