Sunday, July 17, 2016

Chiltern Challenge Ultra 2016

As one final test of the ageing legs before heading off to 19 days across France, Claire and I ran a 50k trail race yesterday in the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. The weather was warm and sunny, the course was fairly dry but hilly, and our fellow sufferers were a friendly bunch. I managed to complete the course with only one clumsy pratfall while dismounting one of many stiles. That's about my average.

The good people at XNRG who put on this race do a wonderful job. 5-star.

Three weeks now remain until the start of Transe Gaule. I am beset with the usual strange mix of excitement and dread, I suppose. One last push, before a life of greater indolence.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Étoile Savoyarde 2016 - final thoughts

Two years ago, after finishing my first Étoile Savoyarde, I wrote the blog post below. All I can do now after completing my second Étoile is to repeat this sentiment, and re-thank Team Codet for another unforgettable experience in 2016:

"I cannot say enough good things - or even effectively describe - the wonderfully French ambience of this race. The Codet family - Michel, Martine and Gilbert - have through this 6-day race created a beautiful model of cooperative human existence. Everyone supports everyone else, everyone works hard, everyone smiles and greets one another frequently and genuinely, everyone applauds minor victories and consoles minor setbacks. Food is fresh, toil is honest, pain is at times raw, and praise is earned and deserved. This is how all of life should be. We have all been privileged to experience it this week. I thank the Codets again deeply and sincerely, as well as the many volunteers and competitors."

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Etoile Savoyarde 2016 - part deux

Four Alpine days now done, and two more to go. The Savoy weather has - somewhat unfortunately - taken a turn for the better, so from about 10am to 2pm we broil gently in the mountains under a fierce sun. Tomorrow's forecast is for 33C (somewhere north of 90F, I think). My skin has already darkened a few shades. But this is on balance better than the cold, foggy, rainy edition of 2014.

Only problems to report so far are one massive blister and the imminent loss of a toenail. Nothing out of the ordinary then. The huge climbs and descents are the cause, but my legs have held up well all week. I am looking forward to a rest from all this crazy running on Sunday. The food, drink, race volunteers and companionship continues to excel.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Etoile Savoyarde 2016

Two very hilly days of Étoile Savoyarde done. The weather - and thus the scenery - has been spectacular. My legs have held up excellently, due in large part to my slothful yet sensible pacing. Stage 1's 55km took me 6hr45. Today's longer, hillier 65km Stage 2 required 8hr13. But that's all good, as I "only" have a modestly steep 55km tomorrow.

Having Claire here as my soigneuse has been a treat. She does a 25km run each morning, after waving us off. Then she gets the gîte in order and well provisioned, before returning to the race HQ, and meeting me at the finish. Very much appreciated, as she feeds me milk & protein powder, plus beer and a late lunch.

The atmosphere here in the village of Myans is delightful. All forty or so runners are courteous and friendly. The family who organise the race - the Codets - are charming and hospitable. It is a privilege to be here again.