This race is popular with Centurions and non-Centurions alike and this year there were four Centurions: two from England, Sandra Brown and Kathy Crilley and from the Isle of Man - Karen Lawrie, Andrew TItley and (no doubt) future Centurion, Tony Mackintosh. We were very well looked after by Karen's husband, David, and Robbie Callister.
The weather always plays a crucial part in a 24 hour race and the weekend forecast wasn't looking too good. Saturday started well with a warm sun shining brightly but there was also a cold wind blowing. The promised rain held off until around midnight and then rained almost non-stop for the rest of the race. The rain also obscured the many potholes on part of the course which slowed many walkers down and caused many early blisters to surface. Well that's the moan over!
Bourges was the chosen venue for the French National Championship and 79 walkers started. All French with the exception of the 5 British, 2 Russians and 1 Belgian.
With no Russian opponents, Remi Bonnotte (Dijon Uc) was favourinte and indeed led for the whole of the race and was obviously hoping to go go beyond 200km but missed by a couple of hundred metres. Sandra Brown started steadily and was going for yet another 100 miles (easily achieved) and was up against a relatively unknown, Tatiana Maslova (RUS) and last year's Roubaix winner, Maggy Labylle (FRA). Karen and Tony walked strongly together for almost the whole of the race. Andrew sadly had to pull out just short of 100km suffering from a virus and stomach problems. Kathy Crilley walked well for the first 100km and suffered in the last hours through lack of training.
The race was superbly organised and the British were shown a lot of friendship and hospitality by the French. For the first time in a French race, bread (baguette) and jam appeared on the feeding station menu. It worked a treat!
In the Village Marcheurs - a huge marquee was provided with tables, chairs and electricity for support crew to set up camp. The chip timing was tested before we all set off - we all had to parade passed the sensors. A large screen by the feeding station ensured all athetrs could see their lap time, cumulative distance and position. All finishers received their individual results showing all lap times. The results were also posted on hteor website Sunday evening showing hourly splits for everyone plus 100km splits. Not bad.