when I decided to do this ride for charity, one of my considerations had to be proving to those who gave their money in support that I had completed the task. How easy would it be to just get the bus? Hire a car? Well, it’s not that hard to prove actually 😉
It stands to reason when you start a marathon you’ve had to register, it’s been a while but I think jumping in and jogging with the leading pack is frowned upon. So with registration (£48 for the Great North Run, charity is skinting me this year!) you are legitimate in claiming that you participated. You’ll be timed too so not only can you show everyone your medal but you’ll have a record of every step and a sweaty photo will appear on their website at some point, more proof that you didn’t just bus to the finish for a group hug photo for Facebook. Happy days…..
So with no official overseeing this journey how will I prove all 800km of it?
With “La Compostela”
The compostela is a certificate awarded only on completion of a substantial distance of the Camino (the recognised route). For those on foot this means the last 100km and those by cycle have to prove the final 200km of the journey up to the apostles tomb in the cathedral of St James. The Compostela is written entirely in latin and it’s been unchanged for centuries. I’m led to believe even the pilgrims name is converted to latin for authenticity. So how do I prove my journey in order to earn the compostela?
At various points along the route a pilgrim can obtain a document known as a passport or credential. This document can also be obtained before leaving for Spain from the Confraternity of St James. The confraternity is based in the UK and is an educational charity made up of former and current pilgrims. They have a wealth of information about the pilgrimage and as a result of their experiences wish to give something back. I will need to obtain mine beforehand because we will be late arriving and starting the journey with sunrise the next day!
Having the credential entitles a pilgrim to the use of hostels called Albergues or Refugios. Preference is given to walkers over cyclist and to ensure the bikes are somewhere safe overnight we’ll just have to be a little inventive with where we stop. My own experience from my previous trip was that people with rooms to hire often congregate in the village square and await the pilgrims arrival in the evening. At the time though I’m sure I just thought we were bumping into lots of old ladies with rooms to spare! The hostels and hotels on the route all have stamps to mark up the pages of the credential as proof you’ve passed through and this is the document presented at Santiago in order to get the Compostela.
So there you have it. Although the pages of the passport may only contain 6 stamps as we’ll be passing through, I will try to get more. Nice to look back on them.