Touring Spain's Basque country (Pais Vasco). If like me you are a Hispanophile endurance obsessive, and admittedly it's maybe not the UK's biggest niche group, then when you reach the region's capital of Vitoria, your mind focuses less on the medieval architecture and more on it being the lifelong home town of marathon legend Martin Fiz.
His crowning glory came when winning the 1995 World Championship Marathon in Gothenberg, backed up by a World silver two years later; European Marathon gold in 1994 where he led a historic Spanish 1-2-3, and 4th and 5th in two Olympics. If you are minded to spend about 15 years of adulthood bashing out 200 kms per week, then Vitoria is not a bad setting. Cool air, beautifully lush hilly valleys, altitude of 500 metres which may help the cause, and, in the 1960s and 70s at least, a basic but full diet. The 1995 Worlds was a great race to see on TV. The race had a '5km to go' board and I recall Fiz sneaking under 14.30 for this split, which even in today's marathon elite is mighty stuff. It was quite a sight, his three day stubble deliberately grown to make his cheeks look extra gaunt, his little gold cross bobbing against his chest and his ribs sharply delineated against the Spanish vest. History suggests that not every Spanish elite runner had a doping-free regime at this time, but Fiz had always been a big talent from his junior days and his subsequent roles in the sport suggest a man of talent and integrity. Spain could do with a new marathoner of his quality