|Beautiful Lake Annecy|
My friend, Tracy Dean, is running the race for Team GB, and so decided to travel out to Annecy for a week with a friend (Ant) over Easter in order to spend some time running on the actual race route. She invited me to come and join them for a couple of nights, so as soon as I finished work on Good Friday, I made my way to the airport and flew out to Geneva to join them.
|Home for the weekend|
It was very late by the time we arrived at the campsite in Annecy, but it was so nice to wake up there the following morning - even if no hills were visible due to the cloud and rain! We delayed our start as long as possible (with trips to the supermarket etc) but as the weather showed no signs of improving, we thought we might as well get out there and check out the final section of the race route. Ant was faffing, so Tracy and I set off first expecting him to catch us up within a few minutes. There were rather a lot of unmarked tracks (all of which appeared to be muddy rocky streams due to the past few days of heavy rain), but I put my trust into Tracy's navigation as she had run the course the previous year - unfortunately, it appeared rather different with the poor weather, and the trail we were on appeared to be descending rather a lot so we checked the map. Or rather, we tried to check the map.....it was still on the front seat of the van!! Ant hadn't appeared yet, so we tried to call him.....no answer....it turns out that his phone was also still back in the van. We decided to continue on from memory of the contours of the land seen on the map and found the trail again. And then we must have lost it again as it petered out into nothingness!!
|?Not the best route|
A bit of bush-bashing (which gave us a few leg scrapes/war wounds) brought us back on track - and we should have had the courage of our convinctions and stuck with it. Unfortunately, we weren't convinced that we'd got it right, so when we hit the crest of the ridge, we decided to try to continue along it instead of dropping down to a minipass the other side (ie the correct route, which Ant took when he got there a few minutes later). Tracy and I then spent rather a long time picking our way along the ridge - at times over rocks and small cliffs, at other times having to work our way round trees - but we were following marks of sorts on the trees (it turns out that they were just marking foresty divisions rather than actual routes). To cut a long story short, we were celebrating getting off the ridge and back onto a trail, when the trail brought us out practically back where we started (via a storm ditch). We still didn't know what had happened to Ant at this stage, so decided to run back along the road towards Annecy - and luckily bumped into him outside a lovely little bakery, where we could dry off and refuel before returning to the campsite.
|Yippee for French bakeries!|
|Woohoo - a road!|
Later on, it was my chance to educate the other two....but in a subject I know much better than offroad running....food! I introduced them to both chocolate crepes (well, it was Easter Sunday) and raclette (mmmm....melted cheese!). Both got the thumbs up!!!
All's well that ends well however (well, it's a shame actually, as I'd love to have stayed out longer - just being there for a couple of days reminded me how much I love France - the place, the scenery, the people, the food and the drink) and I made my flight....and went back to work jealously thinking of the pair of them enjoying several more days of running in glorious sunshine!!