Archive for Argentan

cheating in long-distance running

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2016 by xi'an

This morning, I was reading at breakfast a NYT article on a presumed cheat by the winner of the 2015 Ironman Canada race, in the category of women ages 40-44… (This gruelling race takes place around Whistler, with a 2.4-mile swim, a 112 mile bike race with a huge differential, and a complete marathon!) Leading to reassess earlier victories by the same runner and ending up by her being barred from running in Ironman and Triathlon Canada races (and loosing her title for the 2015 race as well). This reminded me of Darren Wraith pointing out to me an article in Runner’s World where an independent volunteer was checking times of road-runners across the US towards detecting inconsistencies in split times and between races, or in pictures at alleged split times, eventually exposing a significant number of cheaters that had been undetected by the organisers. While I find the temptation to cheat less of a surprise than the article authors, even when nothing more than local and much temporary fame is at stake, and particularly so when a podium or a selection for a more prestigious race is at stake, the limited involvement of race officials is an issue, given how easy it is to spot those inconsistencies. Actually, it is ridiculously easy to cheat as well: when I ran the last Gertrude Cox scholarship race at JSM in 2009, my wife and I picked our tags together and ended up switching them by mistake. Which made my wife the female winner of the race until I pointed out the switch later that afternoon to the organisers. And spoke with the true winner who was surprised but unsuspecting at not being the winner. This may well be a reason for the phenomenon to be so widespread, namely that it does seem to make sense to try to cheat for a middle-of-the-pack rank, so little sense that one does not bother to voice suspicions to course officials. For instance, when I ran my most recent half-marathon in Argentan, I crossed a runner coming backward on the course route around the 11th kilometre and thought he had either given up or was acting as a pacemaker for another runner. Later I however spotted him during the awards ceremony in the first ten runners of the half-marathon! But did not do anything as I was not 100% sure it was the same runner and as being on the podium was the only reward of a possible cheat… In addition, there was no split time and hence little if any hard fact to back up my story. Maybe I’ll pay more attention on the next race!

Norman restaurants [Ivan’s star]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2016 by xi'an

Visiting relatives for the New Year break, I had two wonderful opportunities to sample chef’s restaurants in Normandy. One was Ivan Vautier’s IV in Caen, who had recently lost one Michelin star out of two, but seems to deserve two from the quality of the food and service we received for lunch. For instance, this poached egg… (Definitely above the X I tested twice in 2015.) Plus a great touch of connecting with the local producers, whose pictures were posted in the entrance to the restaurant. The second restaurant was Pavillon de Gouffern, located in a forest near Argentan (and almost on the path of my traditional half-marathon). Worth recommending if only for the setting, in a former hunting lodge, superbly quiet with great views. Plus a well-made scampi risotto, ultimately creamy. And a wide collection of local pear-ciders.

Argentan half-marathon [1 24′ 46″ – 22/496 – V2: 2/116 – 17°C]

Posted in pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2015 by xi'an

ADSC_0135A fairly good race in Argentan, despite (relatively) hot weather that saw the winning time increase by two minutes and a half. (Last year’s winner actually lost 3 and half minutes on the same track). Gaining 18 seconds over my time from last year was thus a significant achievement. This was my 17th—or 18th including one I ran on my own as it had been cancelled—Argentan half-marathon. The first half [of the half] was a bit unpleasant under the relentless sun, and each wee slope made me miss my 3:52 kilometre goal. But very few runners passed me for good after the 5th kilometre and reaching the forest part was a blessing, providing shade and cool. A single runner passed me there, although I had not slowed down, and I did not realise it was another runner in my V2 category as I could have tried to keep up. The last kilometres were indeed much smoother than in previous, thanks to a change in my training where I increased the number of long distance trainings. And presumable thanks to the previous week abroad when I trained twice a day. Anyway, I was still surprised to end up as the second V2, 15 seconds from both the first and third V2 runners. Which got me a nice Timex watch as a reward! And a pretty ugly cup… [Thanks again and again to the photographs of Normandiecourseapied for their free pictures!]


Argentan, 30th and 17th and 7th edition(s)

Posted in Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2015 by xi'an

When I started the ‘Og, in 2008, I was about to run the 23rd edition of the Argentan half-marathon… Seven years later, I am once again getting ready for the race, after a rather good training season, between the mountains of the North Cascade and the track of Malakoff. with the last week in England, Holland, and Canada having seen close to two trainings a day. (Borderline stress injury, maybe!) Weather does not look too bad this year, so we’ll see tomorrow how I fare against myself (and the other V2 runners, incidentally!).

Why Runners Get Slower With Age

Posted in Kids, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by xi'an

Argentan, Apr. 17, 2011“The differences were striking. With each passing decade, the runners’ stride length and preferred speed dropped by about 20 percent.”

This morning at breakfast I read this New York Times article on the impact of age on running abilities. The perfect article to get me in the right post-birthday mood! The results of a physiological study reported in this article are not crystal-clear, but they primarily show that “older runners used their ankle muscles less but not other muscles more.”  A point on which I have no opinion, although I think I now run more from the front of my feet than I used to run, if the imposition on my running shoes is informative: the sole under the big toe is the first part to wear out! Then, at lunch, I went to train with my friends of the Insee Paris Club on 1km splits, with a good soul playing the pacemaker on the last lap. And helping me to achieve an average 3:31 average I was not expecting! Too bad I only have one serious training left before the traditional Argentan half-marathon, early October…