Monday, July 30, 2001

Duathlon Central. Fos, French Pyranees

Duathlon Central Fos, French Pyranees (on the Spanish border)

We are waiting for the after race rage and buffet ~ due to start at 7 pm, however predictably are waiting to be let in. It has been an extraordinarily long day, even by race day standards. I had entered "L'Ours" ~ the name of the region where we are staying, but in this context meaning the Fun Run held prior to the B.I.G. Duathlon. With no information other than it's start time (9:30) & that of the presentation (10:30), we assumed maybe a 6km course around the town for locals. Wrong! It turned out to be the same course of the first run of the duathlon, a winding mountain climb over cobbled streets and impossibly narrow lanes that separated the eighteenth century homes from the cliff face and the crystal clear stone strewn river fed by the snow of the highest peaks. Ancient residents who were too infirm to don officials T-Shirts supported loudly from their kitchen chairs dragged out their door to the footpath, or geranium-packed window box & shuttered homes on each corner. The path left the town on a rough goat track, still climbing through increasingly densely wooded forest. Some respite in flatter or slight downhill sections was a cruel, brief & occasional Illusion. The village of Melles lay ahead, perched precariously against sheer rock faces, with lanes leading off each other at impossible angles, with some geriatric groups at each one to lend support and ensure that one headed in the correct direction. This we discovered on the return on the roadway was Spain via a goat track, demanding one to jump creeks and run through boggy sections of rough terrain. Eventually the roadway was reached with border traffic being restrained by the most gorgeous looking cops in thigh high leather boots. Concentration through such stunning countryside was difficult enough, however this was an unfair distraction so close to civilization! Too soon the race was over, my only curse being the sensible pacing over the unknown and treacherous course leaving me plenty of energy, although not enough time to get the value of a finishing burst. I was nevertheless very satisfied and excited at the end, having conquered a mountain run of epic proportions in a good time and feeling way-too-fresh at the end.

Now for the main event: Bob to tackle the same run as a prelude to a 68km cycle of switchback mountain climbs and hair-raising descents. The same route had claimed the life of a US Postal Team member a few years earlier. A 10km run which was to follow was apparently as difficult, despite lacking the climb of the first run. That is another tale.For now, Adieu. Interepting the beaurocratic French telephone (et al) system is enough to spend time on in an attempt to send this missal.


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