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Le Courants de la Liberté
Sunday 15th June 2014
Christof Schwiening

Whilst the race is titled Le Marathon de la Liberte, the marathon is the smallest race of a weekend of running, rolling and speed walking. The largest event is the women's 5K on Saturday night which again saw around 20,000 runners, of all types, looping around Caen. The 10km, half marathon and marathon were all point-to-point races starting progressively further from Caen requiring military-type organization with ~10,000 people having to be ferried-out early on Sunday morning, by coach, from the War Memorial in Caen out towards the coast. It seems a matter of some pride to the organizers in Caen that they could achieve this so smoothly with rows of coaches stretching out as far as the eye could see. George and Max, and my brother-in-law joined me this year with the fit young ones taking a shot at the 10km and Calvin battling the marathon off his usual near zero base-training mileage. It was Max's 17th birthday the night before and the resonance of how the outlook for a young male Brit had changed over the course of 70 years was not lost on us. It was Max's first 10 km and he fought well to judge the pace with a slight downhill start into a headwind finishing 53rd overall and second in his age-group . But, in the spirit of our current more enlightened times it was George who showed that sex should be no discriminator. She took the pace out hard from the start and kept it high through-out, dropping the other females and gradually gaining increasing respect from the male cohort. By the end of the race she had gained her own mobile support crew and was cheered-in, by enthusiastic spectators and other runners, to a comfortable win - and 18th place overall from a field of nearly 3,500.
As far as my race was concerned it was a bit of a mixed bag. A stop of just over 2 mins mid-race, during which the 50 strong 3:15 pacing group came past laid the ground work for a sequence of further accidents. A 4:14 km took me back ahead of them but with little motor control. My scattering of a few dozen drinks bottles from an unmanned table (as I completely failed to pick one up) onto the floor, just a few meters ahead of the 3:15 pack caused a barrage of noise and mayhem. Then just a few km later I tripped on a kerb and just avoided hitting the floor, but the damage to my left foot slowed my pace allowing the 3:15 group to get a decent close-up view of my next fall when I hit the ground. But, the noise of the warning shouts from the pacers and the massive shot of adrenaline got me hobbling again. I was shallowed by the 3:15 group and experienced just how horrible it is to be in the middle of an unstoppable rabble. I made my way back out the front and again managed to create a buffer. I was overwhelmed to see the finish and with 50 m to go I was spent and began to slow - it was then that the runner alongside me put his hand on my back and pushed me onwards with a word of encouragement. The atmosphere really was great with so much support and enthusiasm. It was well worth the 4 hour drive down from Calais and I can recommend it to any Francophiles out there.

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