16 667 ladies in pink [and me: 10k, 38:18, 58th & 2nd V2]

Last weekend, I ran my second race of the week, in Caen. (This also explains for the uncontrolled posting of the weekend!) This 10k race is part of a large collection of races, called Les Courants de la Liberté, always near June 06 in commemoration of the D-Day landing on the nearby beaches in 1944. The marathon starts from Courseulles-sur-Mer (Juno Beach) and follows the coastline to Ouistreham (Sword Beach), before proceeding along the Ornes canal to Pegasus bridge, then Cambes-en-Plaine and its British War Cemetery, and ending up at the Memorial for Peace in Caen… The half-marathon starts from Pegasus bridge and the 10k even closer to Caen, as they all end up in the same place.

However, those road races (on the Sunday) are proceeded with a female race called La Rochambelle, the name of a health unit that was created and equipped by the Americans during the Second World War, as nurses and ambulance women in the 2nd Armoured Division of General Leclerc. The race is undoubtedly the most impressive of all by its size, 16 667 participants this year!, and the commitment to the fight against breast cancer through the local associations Mathilde and Etincelle. And the fact that all participants wear the same fuschia tee-shirt for the race. (The number of participants was limited to 16 667 this year to reach a support of 100,000 euros, for 6 euros by runner.) To stand in the stadium (next to my high school!) and watch this pink wave slowly but steadily occupy the whole stadium was a tremendous sight.

The 10k did not start very auspiciously as rain was pouring on us while we were waiting on a country road for the departure signal. When it came, rain had stopped and there was hardly any wind at all, which is a usual difficulty with this race. I managed to get close to the departure line (although it took me 5 seconds to reach it if I judge from the difference between my watch time and my official time). The first 5km went by in a blur: 3:33 – 3:52 – 3:46 – 3:50 – 3:48. By then I was faster than on Thursday. (Being in a larger group and passing people helped.) I started fighting by the 6th km as I was unable to reach the group of the first woman, a few meters in front of me, and ran the remaining kilometers by myself: 3:56 – 3:53 – 3:58 – 3:55 – 3:44, with two runners passing me on the last kilometer. I was quite pleased with the overall time, 38:18, but since there were many runners (57) in front of me, I did not bother checking about my position and went home for a warmer shower. It is only when checking the results after lunch that I saw I was second in the V2 category, which truly amazed me as this was not such an outstanding time. (There was no cup, though!) I presume the top runners were too busy running the half- and full marathons to take part in the 10k…

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