Archive for D-Day beaches

La Rochambelle, 25000⁺ coureuses! [39:29, 24⁰, 164th & 7th V2…]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by xi'an

As almost every year in the last decade, I have run the 10K in Caen for Courants de la Liberté, with 5000⁺ runners, on a new route completely in the city of Caen, partly downhill..! It did not go well (although I started in 3:44 on the first three k’s) as I ended up at a poor position (8th) in my category, which is not surprising with some runners now 8 years younger than I! (The runner next to me is the second V3.) And a fairly hot weather, especially for a Norman early morning…. Several runners fainted on the race or upon arrival and the faces of most runners showed the strain. But I first and primarily want to congratulate my mom for walking the 6⁻ km the previous evening despite serious health issues in the previous months, as well as my mother in-law who walked with her.

Somme graves

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on April 9, 2016 by xi'an

As mentioned in a previous post, we ended up spending Easter break in the Somme, close to the part of the Western Front that opposed German and Franco-British armies  between 1914 and 1918, with horrendous human losses: the first day alone of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 saw around 60,000 British casualties! For a final gain of less than 10 kilometres… And a total number of dead close to a million. Unsurprisingly, the area is speckled with war cemeteries and memorials. Including an Australian National Memorial which commemorates the 16,000 Australian dead during World War I, including 11,000 with unmarked graves.  As for the cemeteries near the D-day beaches, I am always deeply moved when visiting war cemeteries, uncomprehending the waste of innumerable live of young men by military stratèges unable to adapt to new forms of warfare and throwing waves of foot soldiers against impregnable machine gun nests.

When running this weekend in the quiet and green Somme countryside, surprising a young deer which fled across the immense plain, with only a few bare thickets here and there, I was also wondering at how hellish was the place a hundred years ago, at how unworldly it should have looked to the entrenched soldiers, and whether or not any of this region had kept anything in common with the pre-war era, since entire villages were more than flattened, as shown by the picture of Guillemont below…

La Rochambelle 2015 [10K – 38:28 – 73th & 4th V4]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2015 by xi'an

stade1Another year attending La Rochambelle, the massive women-only race or walk against breast cancer in Caen, Normandy! With the fantastic vision of 20,000 runners in the same pink tee-shirt swarming down-town Caen and the arrival stadium. Which made it quite hard to spot my three relatives in the race! I also ran my fourth iteration of the 10k the next day, from the British War Cemetery of Cambes-en-Plaine to the Memorial for Peace in Caen. The conditions were not as optimal as last year, especially in terms of wind, and I lost one minute on my total time, as well as one position, the third V2 remaining tantalisingly a dozen meters in front of me till the end of the race. A mix of too light trainings, travel fatigue and psychological conviction I was going to end up fourth! Here are my split times, with a very fast start that showed up in the second half near 4mn/km, when the third V2 passed me.


Caen, June 1944-2014

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , on June 16, 2014 by xi'an


La Rochambelle 2013 [39’51” – 105th & 8th V2]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2013 by xi'an

some of the 18,000 runners, June 15, 2013For the second time in a row, I ran the 10k that is one of the races of Courants de la Liberté, celebrating D-day anniversary from Juno Beach (marathon), Pegasus Bridge (half-marathon) and Mathieu British War Cemetery, all ending at the Caen Museum for Peace. The most important race is however “La Rochambelle“, which is a women-only race where, this year, 18,000 runners put on the same pink t-shirt and ran or walked the 5k circuit. The benefits all go to local breast cancer associations. (We had hopes to have my mother, my wife—that you may be able to spot in the above picture—and my daughter jointly in this race but my daughter preferred to stay home to prepare her finals. Instead, my mother-in-law picked the challenge and joined us.) As for last year La Rochambelle, the sight of this pink wave flowing down though the streets of Caen is a unique and highly emotional sight, where the community of spirit among the participantes and the complete lack of competition between them are obvious. (A lot of them run another race the day after.)

finish line, Stade Elitas, Caen, La Rochambelle, June 15, 2013Despite my long break in training, and slow recovery, I decided to run the 10k, if only to check how much I had lost compared with last year (where I finished second V2). Contrary to last year, the weather was perfect: cool with neither (Norman) rain nor (Channel) wind. After a fairly quick start (3’34” on the first km!), I managed to keep with my 3’52” goal for a few kms and then inexorably had to give up seconds and positions to end up just under the 40mn barrier, more than one minute worse than last year. Not very surprising. I just hope I can get enough proper training this summer to recover in time for Argentan 1/2 marathon (to which the ‘Og is inextricably linked!) and maybe the Pont de Normandie 1/2 marathon…


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

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by xi'an

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…