Sunday, December 2, 2012


Wow, what a weekend. Last night Sue and I went for a pre race dinner in St Tropez and then back to our fab hotel, the Villa Begude, for an early night. My view is if you're going do these tough challenges then you might as well make it as pleasant as possible........before the drama begins.

         It was a stunningly beautiful day with a chilly Alpine wind blowing on the exposed cliff tops. It was 100 of the usual fit French guys, thin, wiry, short cropped hair.....; its like a uniform, they all look the same but they are very good at this sport so they have my respect. I really thought that my calves were going to 'pull' in the first hour so I was pretty relaxed.....ooops! The pace was really fast over the first kilometre and the reason, I was to discover, was because it was the only flat, level, open piece of trail on the whole course. I would say 90% of this trail was 'technical' which means rocky, roots, slippy surfaces, mud, and constant up and down.....and thats before you hit the beach. The total elevation gain was just under 4000 feet which is okay but the surface was very tricky. Still it was a great temperature and clear blue sky so you have to be grateful, it could have been a full blown storm.
       Anyway 45 minutes in, I'm twisting this way and that, ducking under trees whilst trying to prevent myself from catapulting  over the cliff edge, when Bang!! No, not my calf, I just smacked straight into a low tree branch and keeled over. With blood pouring from my head I am instantly surrounded by a collection of concerned runners. 'Ma tete frappe le branche' I exclaimed. The only reason I knew how to say this was because luckily these are 4 of about 20 french words that I know and I only knew 'branche' was branch because of the comedian Eddie Izzard's French sketch.( You tube). Now trail runners are a hardy bunch and although they were concerned they just expect you just to get up and get on with it......and so that's what I did, although I was now the 'headless' trail runner and my vision a little hazy, to say the least......still it woke me up a bit and I forgot all about my calves.
      The 4 k's of Pampelone beach were basically terrible, I tried running in soft sand, hard sand, by the sea, even in the sea, it made no difference, its just hard. When we finally began a steep climb back up into the hills I was actually relieved. Somehow I got to the 20 k aid station in 3 hours which was okay considering I'd been half decapitated and was half legless.
       The aid station was out of the back of a van with a few bottles of coke and water...and that was it. This is trail running French ain't California, if you don't bring all your own stuff you could have a problem. Later two french guys passed me and attempted to have a chat, which was a complete waste of time but I did manage to say that running in such a beautiful place was a 'privelege'. This brought instant nods of approval and off they went.
        By now my calves were starting to ache quite a bit as if they were saying to me 'Come on, we got you this far but now your really 'pulling my leg'. (By the way for my foreign readers this might not translate but trust me, it was quite funny.)
         To be fair the endless rocks and beaches started to take their toll but I was going to finish no matter what.......and finally over 5 hours later I hit the last beach and arrived at the 'plage du Debarquement' and the finish. The beach is called this because this is where the American troops landed in 1944, which is pretty cool.......and now it was my turn. (Steve would have loved that).
      Sue had enjoyed a lovely day at the hotel whilst I'd been doing my thing so all was well and, lest I forget a big thanks to Helen, my physio, for her 'therapy by phone', it could be an all knew buisness venture and to Pam for the KT calf tape suggestion. I didn't use KT but I did my own DIY version when taping my calves this morning. The moral of this story is that, tape, physio, ice , massage, TENS machines, elevation and rest, actually work.......that and a bit of stubborn belief.



  1. Lovely photos. Well done brave man!

  2. Great Job Phil......glad that the leg tape helped. I see many people at my health club using tape on injuries with good results.

    So happy that I could be a part of your "Team".

    Persistence & Perseverance are my 2 "best friends"

    ~Pamela in rainy Seattle"