Ready for the Heat
Words & Photography: Phil Gale & Emmmie Collinge
Weather is somewhat of a preoccupation for many in the UK. On this little island touching the Atlantic Ocean, meteorological conditions have an unmistakable effect on everyday life, but it’s never easy to predict. That’s why when the call came in for the final shakedown of the hot weather capsule, our home, London, was not the first place on the list.
After much discussion we set upon mainland Europe’s only two deserts, made famous by the Spaghetti Western movies that were filmed there. If we wanted serious heat, the Tabernas and Gorafe deserts in the province of Almeria, Spain, would be where we’d find it.
Over breakfast we crane our necks to see the visuals on Spanish television. The news is filled with the stories of how the temperatures in this area are already as hot as high summer. Talk of low 40°C/105+°F fills the broadcast, as well as maps that are awash with red to highlight the incoming heatwave. Even though our Spanish left us wanting at dinner the previous night, we had no trouble understanding now. Fresh back from 8 x 1km, Badr and the rest of us had felt the heat, noting the roadside temperature sensors showing 28°C before the sun had even risen.
With breakfast and those morning TV warnings behind us, we head into the desert. The temperature is scorching and the shade minimal as we set out to test the hot weather gear. The semi-arid landscape is stunning, reminiscent of the American Southwest, or closer to home, Morocco. Sandy hues and dry stones are mixed with scrublands, with short, aggressive plants letting you know that out here it’s a fight for survival – and the odds are against you.
After the humid heat by the coast, we are now hit with the driest heat you can imagine. The sun seems to scorch the skin as you run, your mouth dries, and you don’t feel any sweat – just hot air, as if you’re running in the path of a giant hair dryer. When it is like this you need to bring your own shade with you, covering your skin with light, sun-blocking fabrics, whilst keeping your head cool and staying hydrated.
Gorafe spans out like an incredible, rolling expanse that offers up waves of sand and erosion that drift off into the distance. Up here, we’re at 1,000 metres and lodging in a cave that’s cut into the mountain. It’s so fresh and cool inside that it’s easy to forget the wall of heat that waits outside. There’s an undulating 24 km loop into the desert or pan-cake flat gravel in three other directions that work well for intervals. We run early, in the middle of the day, and as the sun is setting. This far south, it’s like someone switches the light off – you go from day to night in a matter of minutes. And this far west, the morning sun arrives late, so we get a bit more reprise from the heat without the need of setting the alarm too early.
Rigorously tested from the Spanish coast into the desert, through scrubland and even up high at 2,000 metres-plus, the final shakedown of the hot summer capsule was tested on all fronts.
The verdict? On our return to the UK and the hottest June on record, we can confirm that it’s more than fit for purpose and ready for you to beat the heat.
Combing sun protecting UPF fabrics with lightweight, breathable mesh - and constructed to maximise cooling - the new Hot Weather Capsule is designed to keep you running through the height of summer.