Qualifier for the Paris - Alsace - Ribeauville 2018
Three weeks to the day, Centurions Sandra Brown and Kathy Crilley went back to France to take part in the Chateau Thierry 24 hours. Details of the race came out late - just before the Bourges 24 hour and consequently the race only attracted a small field of 28 entrants. We were joined by another Centurion from Spain - Bernado Jose Mora.
No 24 hour race report is complete without a mention of the weather.... so here it is...
Mindful of the freezing conditions experienced in Bourges in February, the weather forecast was scrutinised very carefully the week of the race. I should know by now, never trust a weather forecast.... the promised mild day time weather of 11-12 degrees with possibly an occasional shower was a bit off the mark. The rain started around 6am and never let up, making the 1pm start a rather wet and windy affair and so this was the pattern until after 7pm. A few hours of dry time, then the snow started and stayed with us for the rest of the night. Fortunately the road was already so wet that the snow had no chanvce of settling which was the only good news.
Starting very steadily, both Sandra and myself maintained a fairly good pace whilst others went racing round at a frantic pace. Some paid the price for this and either took time out during the night or abandoned the race completely.
I had a bit of a stutter (well quite a few, actually) after 12 hours as the cold made breathing very difficult which caused me to be short of breath for the next 10 hours.
The men's race was quite exciting as there were quite few contenders for podium places. David Vandercoilden walked extremely well with hardly a change of pace throughout the whole 24 hours. Bernardo also kept his pace going but I cannot believe that he not only started in shorts but wore them for the whole race. Brrrrr.
Sandra and myself did wonder in a post race debrief (over a beer...) how some of the French walkers would do without having pacers. They seem to come out, especially over the last few hours, when the walkers are flagging and it is obvious to see what a difference they make. Maybe, this is where I have been going wrong..!
The ladies race was a bit of a foregone conclusion with only 4 entrants. My main aim was to beat Claudie Bizard (and complete 145km) but this was not to be. To my surprise, Sylvie Maison dropped out very early on in the race. So all I had to do was to keep going and I would get 3rd place! Easier said than done on this occasion.
The lap at Chateau Thierry is 1500 metres and 75% was uphill with a couple of short steep downhill bursts thrown in. Not much time to recover and start climbing again. The last hour was on a shorter lap of 425 metres of very uneven ground. Amazing, though, how you can speed up in the last hour...!
As always, chip timing was used with a monitor displaying details of position, position and total distance as we passed through the "beeper". Another screen showed total positions. Being able to check the screen after each lap is fantastic as you know exactly who is in front and immediately behind you.
The feeding station had only the very basics - cake, oranges, water, coke etc, and during the night hot drinks and soup. Luckily I took some small pots of rice pudding, boiled potatoes but during the night these weren't going down at all well as everything was very cold (or frozen). Neither was the Tracker bar, flap jack and other favourite snacks... so back to the Tuc biscuits (I had to sit down for 5 minutes or so to come to this decision!!)
It was a hard race. Possibly, the hardest I have done for many years. Whilst finishing 3rd place in the ladies race, this was not much consolation for such a poor results (124.9km).
Sandra won the ladies race, Claudie in 2nd place.
Philippe Morel won the men's race with David Vandercoilden in a well deserved 2nd place. Bernado came in 5th.
David will be taking part in the 2018 Parish Walk where I am sure he will do well. I have warned him about the hills...
There was also a 2 x 6 hours race and a 1 x 6hour race for those who do not want to do a full blown 24 hour race.