ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - The Battling Bishop exciting summer continued with episode four involving a Bishop student-athlete competing in a 5K race in Spain earlier this summer.
Rising sophomore Connor Hayes, of the men's cross country team, traveled to Spain for three and half weeks this summer and ran the XXll Cursa del Poble Sec 5K in Barcelona, Spain for the second time. Hayes finished in 11th place overall and ran a 17:25 time while staying at his uncle's place in Sitges.
Sitges is a coastal town located along the Mediterranean Sea in the Catalonia region of Spain, southwest of Barcelona. It is filled with bars, restaurants, and night clubs. The focal point of the town is the Iglesia de San Bartolomé y Santa Tecla.
"This cathedral was definitely one of my favorites to see," exclaimed Hayes. "Waves would constantly crash against the rocks, which would make for some breathtaking photos."
During his stay, Hayes would usually run along the two-mile boardwalk where he would see vendors laying out items to sell to tourists, people playing foot-volley in the sands, and others enjoying the warm waters in the intense heat. Hayes said that the town would typically come alive at night with folks walking about and eating outside, watching others as they pass on by making him a bit uncomfortable.
"Luckily," Hayes continued, "I would get distracted by the incredible street performers showing off their musical talent so I did not notice random strangers staring at me. All jokes aside, this place was definitely one for the books, and I won't forget it."
Hayes also got to experience many more cities, including Villanova, Tarragona, Barcelona and Valencia. However, the one that he liked the most was Montserrat. This multi-peaked mountain range is about 90 minutes northwest of Barcelona. It is part of the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range. The main peaks are Sant Jeroni, Montgrós, and Miranda de les Agulles, which stand over 4000 feet in elevation. This Christian city dates back to the 9th century. and is home to a beautiful monastery and the iconic Virgin of Montserrat, a statue that is said to produce miracles for those who touch it.
"For me, the whole landscape and history was overwhelming," Hayes went on to say. "I was blown away. And just when I thought it couldn't be any better, I got to enjoy an awesome buffet and see the wonderful views at the same time."
Hayes' favorite meal was definitely the paella, a Spanish rice dish made with oil, vegetables, and occasionally seafood while he was also excited to ride a cable car to the top of a mountain range and see the whole area from above.
"This city is definitely the coolest place that I've experienced, and I hope I can go back one day," Hayes said.
Hayes will now prepare for the upcoming 2019 fall season on the cross country team which begins on Aug. 31 with their first race in Fayetteville. The Bishops will also host two races this year on Sept. 21 and the USA South Championships on Nov. 2.