5 weeks ago I ran a marathon in Scotland that wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience. This weekend their Celtic cousins put on an event that couldn’t have been more different. The organisation was outstanding, aid stations every 4k with water, energy drinks, coke, cake, bananas etc all needed because the sun was out for the whole run. The course was spectacular, and the pockets of support enthusiastic. For those that needed it, transportation was provided to the start from the end at Guisseny
The most difficult part of the race was actually getting there, but that should not put you off running it. I had a flight booked from Southampton to Brest on the Saturday morning. Four days before this the French air traffic controllers went on strike. No matter how much I tried neither the airline nor the airport could give me a clue as to whether my flight would be cancelled. I formulated a back up alternative, a train to Plymouth then an overnight ferry, sitting up all night, to Roscoff followed by a bus & train to Brest. Fortunately I didn’t have to use it as the strike was called off on Thursday. The other difficulty was actually getting to the start, in Plouescat. I was staying in Brest, I couldn’t find any accommodation in or near Plouescat (the schools are already on holiday in France), and it seemed the only thing I could do would be a taxi or hire a car. However the race organisers were brilliant. They emailed everyone in Brest who was running the race and asked if anyone was willing to give me a lift. It worked and I was picked up, then dropped back at the front of my apartment as well as being taken to the beach after the race and recommended the best place for moules frites; so the least I could do was take Jeremy and his girlfriend for a meal.
Before the race had started I had decided to ‘enjoy’ it. Now I know I can run marathons, and am capable of a decent (sub 4 hour) time, if I am going to do 26 (and then more?) I really should not just ‘suffer’ every time; I will ‘go for it’ if I think the time is right but for many of them I will enjoy the experience. Have run coastal races before I expected the undulations so they didn’t phase me. The off road sections were not quite so expected, some tracks just above the beaches with lose stones and sand. But they did provide stunning coastal views.
Until I finished I had no idea of my time, I had no interest in looking at my GPS watch. I ended up running 4:14:29 a time only well beaten by a sub 4 hour in Düsseldorf. I was equally as pleased with this time as I was that, and even more satisfied that I didn’t actually walk any of this race.
Like many regions of Europe, Brittany has a strong sense of identity, and the flag of the region was proudly displayed on many parts of the course, none more noticeable that the one held over the road by 2 cranes.
At €23 this race is great value, and for that, besides the stunning views you get a medal, T shirt and beer at the end.
And the fatalities? Within the first km we passed a rabbit and a crow on the road, then later a small fox. But not wishing to sound callous, the fatalities that have had more effect on me were not noticed until well after my race had finished. Two of my nails had meet their end, the ones on my big and adjacent toes have had their day. They will run other races, it will probably be 12 months before I actually say goodbye to the big one, which is how long the one one the other foot stayed with me for it is almost 2 years to the day that it suffered the same fate.
I have nothing but praise for this race, go over just for the weekend, or do it was part of a longer break, you will not be disappointed.
Next stop on the project, Guernsey in August.