Clear blue skies. Barely a breeze. Temperatures hovering around 28 Celsius (82.4 F) at 4 in the afternoon. Perfect conditions for a long run, you say?
Not if you’re running distance — and yesterday’s race in the Greater Daglan Area was a distance run, and then some. In fact, it’s what is called an ultra-marathon. (In case you’re wondering, I’m not running these days, but I used to run long distance, and have one marathon under my belt.)
This sign, just as you enter the village of Castelnaud, about 10 kilometres north of Daglan, tells the essence of the story. Have a look:
Yes, yesterday was the date for the 42nd edition of Les 100 km de Belvès, featuring both the 100-km run and a 50-km run. In fact, the race is considered the 100-km championship of France.
The village of Belvès is perched on a fairly high hill, so it means that the 100-km runners go down into the Dordogne River valley, and eventually make their way to the medieval town of Sarlat. Then they return, on a slightly different course, and are forced to run back up the hill to finish in Belvès.
Phew. I got tired just typing that.
Starting time for the event was 8 a.m. for the 100-km runners, and 9 a.m. for the runners (and walkers) who were doing half that distance. So you can imagine that when my wife Jan and I saw them, at 4 p.m., they weren’t exactly sprinting.
To watch the runners, Jan and I stood in a parking lot across from the restaurant Le Tournepique (one of our local favourites, with excellent Basque and Périgourdine food) and saw the participants cross the bridge over the Dordogne, and then make a sharp right and head up towards Château des Milandes (formerly Josephine Baker’s home).
To orient you a bit, here’s a view looking up from a table at the café La Plage, where I eventually headed for a cooling Perrier. At the top of the photo is the formidable Château de Castelnaud, while Le Tournepique is in the centre, at the level of the main road.
And now for the runners, many of whom were accompanied by friends or family members on bikes. Here’s a male runner, preparing to make the right turn in order to head north:
And here are two more male participants, already making the right turn, followed by a photo of a female runner, who’s accompanied by a cyclist:
Remember that this was around 4 in the afternoon, which is just about the hottest time of the day, with a temperature around 28 C (82 F), and that from our vantage point the runners still had another 25 kilometres or so to go. With a final long stretch uphill. So if you’re thinking of entering next year’s run, I’d start training now.