Four weeks to the day, Centurions Sandra Brown and Kathy Crilley went back to France to take part in the Chateau Thierry 24 hours. This race was the French National 24 hour Championship and also the last opportunity for anyone trying to qualify for the presitgious 2016 Paris Alsace race in June, consequently the race attracted a good field of 63 (46 men and 17 women) entrants.
Mindful of the freezing conditions experienced in Bourges at the end of February, the weather forecast was scrutinised very carefully. Never trust a weather forecast.... the promised mild day time weather (and a good walking temparture) of 12-13 degrees was a bit off the mark. The 1pm start was very cold and very windy. However, just to confuse, the temperature rose a couple of hours later to 15-16 degrees. Time to shed those fleeces. Just after midnight, the rain started and continued for a good few hours until daylight. Brrrr.
Starting very steadily, both Sandra and myself maintained a good pace throughout the 24 hours. I had a bit of a stutter after 22 hours or so when I really needed food and there was not much on offer at the official feeding station. I'd eaten all my rice pudding, the potatoes weren't going down at all well, neither was the Tracker bar, so back to the Tuc biscuits (I had to sit down for 5 minutes or so to come to this decision!!)
The lap was 1500 metres - not to everyones taste, especially as about 75% was uphill with a couple of short downhill bursts thrown in. Not much time to recover and start climbing again. The last 45 minutes was on a shorter lap of 450 metres and boy did we all fly round!
As always, chip timing was used and a screen gave details of position, lap time and total distance as we passed through the "beeper". The main board showed total positions but was slightly out of date as it was quite a job to keep that manually updated.
Being able to check the screen after each lap is fantastic as you know exactly who is in front and immediately behind you. At the front of the ladies race, Sandra realised that she was closing in on Corinne Fauqueur Duda and upped the pace. At the bottom end of the ladies race, I realised that both Claudie Bizard and Brigitte Lerouge were putting the pressure on me. So no more stuttering!
I always realised that I could achieve over 140km in the last hour. (which i duly did - see Results).
Sandra won the ladies race with a 90 metre lead over Corinne (who became the French National Champion - feminin). Sandra was 8th overall. I finished 10th lady and 26th overall (which I was really pleased with).
The classification distances were 130km for women and 160km for men.
1st Sandra Brown (Surrey WC) 171km 237m
2nd Corinne Fauqueur Duda 171km 138m
3rd Martine Navarro 166km 133m
10th Kathy Crilley (Surrey WC) 141km 891m
1st Jean-marie Rouault 194km 472m
2nd Matthieu Olivares 191km 148m
3rd Florian Letourneau 188km 573m
See full results of the 24 hour race
The race also incorporated a 2 stage 6 hour race over the weekend. This was won by the Belgian Pascal Biebuyck covering 96km 414m (thanks for your encouragement, Pascal, on every lap!)
Paris Alsace 2016
This was final qualifying race for the 2016 Paris Alsace. Sandra won her invite by winning the 2015 24 hours in St Thibault des Vignes. Much to my suprise, I too received an invitation to compete in the Paris Alsace.
Centurion Suzanne Beardsmore got her invitation after her performance in Roubaix (September 2015), as did Centurions Richard McChesney (NZ) and Frank van der Gulik (NED). Suzanne was also the winner of the 2015 Chateau Thierry (fem) race.
Manx walker, Andrew Titley won his invite at Bourges 24 hours 2016
Report by Kathy Crilley, C933, Captain Centurions.