Sunday night I arrived in Roscoff, the start of the 2013 Transe Gaule. I’d decided to get the flight to Brest from City having realised that 8 hours of seasickness on the Plymouth-Roscoff ferry probably isn’t the best way to prepare for a 19 day stage race! Thankfully I was collected from the airport by my Aunt Margie and Uncle Derek who live about 50 miles away in Chateauneuf de Faou and we headed straight to Roscoff and found a pizza restaurant in the centre of town. They dropped me off about 10pm at the Salle Polyvalente (municipal sports hall) and I met a few of the 55 runners. Settling in for the night in my sleeping bag on the gym mat in the big hall I did begin to question my decision to practice rough sleeping ahead of three weeks of it and wondered about the nice hotel down the road; but then the next thing I knew I was waking up after 8 hours of sound sleep. Once again delighted with my ability to sleep well anywhere.
It was 6:30 am and so I had a little jog round Roscoff to stretch my legs and pick up some breakfast (fresh croissants reminded me why this is a good idea!) and then headed back for a shower and to meet the runners.
It’s testament to the organisation of Transe Gaule that so many people have run it before, not just once but many of the 10 editions. I met Fabrice who’s here for the 7th time, Daniel 6th, Sigrid 6th, Jobst who’s completed twice before and it was a while before I meet any other first-timers. There’s a mix of Germans (about 10) a couple of Dutch and mainly French with a smattering of other nationalities – I’m the only Brit/Rosbif, there’s a couple of Americans, including the Texan Don Winkley who’s the only person to run all 9 previous Transe Gaule runs and at the age of 75 is here for his 10th time, he ran across the US in 1995.
So who else is here? The organisers produce this list of running CVs. Basically some pretty awesome ultra runners. Ranging from 20 to 78 years old (average age of 50), 11 women and 43 men. Here’s the french preview – I get a special mention as one of the three runners who have run across America (thank goodness I have that on my running CV as otherwise I’d be intimidated by this cast list!).
We were treated to a superb dinner by the Mayor of Roscoff at Hotel Angleterre (a good omen?!). I sat near Becky (US) and Said (Algerian, lives in Germany- very good English – and is an anaesthetist – access to painkillers!) and the conversation mainly covered other runs we’d done. My plan to improve my GCSE French never happened – I was working and running too much – but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’m understanding and communicating. I’m conscious to speak to those I know are not English speakers to improve my French but it’s also a relief that the majority of the group do speak English so I don’t have to struggle on too long.
I’m planning to blog every evening (Wifi connection and my off-shore IT support permitting – thanks Nat! Also Yanoo.net are letting me use their dongle WiFi after Vodafone seem to have gotten confused with the Hotspot on my iPhone being in France, despite them telling me it would work!) so do follow for a daily update; though unlike the US because the time difference is only an hour for UK readers this may mean it’s bed-time reading not breakfast!