Sunday, December 9, 2012

La Course de l'Escalade

In 1602, on a cold December night the Duke of Savoy sent a suprise attack on the city of Geneva, against all odds the city successfully defended itself against the 2000 strong army of the Duke.  The occasion is now a celebrated moment in Genevois history.  Among many other festivities there has been, since 1978, a series of running races to commemerate the event. 

Last weekend was the 35th time this race had been run and it's popularity seems almost to outgrow the city.  With over 30,000 people registered they need to split the event into different categories with races taking place throughout the Saturday.  This year was also a special year - once every 5 years they run a longer 'Course de Duc'. Starting in France it retraces the Duke of Savoy's route into the city.  I ran this race in 2007 - at that time the run took place on the Saturday morning, but this time the challenge of scheduling all the races led them to run the race on the Friday night, starting at 9.15pm.  Well, they claim it was in order to better represent the Duke's march on the city, which took place at night (arriving after midnight).  Whichever it was, some 4500 people (more than twice the Duke's orginal army) took part.  The reason I'm telling you all this was because I ran the race, finishing about 700 and something with a creditable time of 1 hour and 22 minutes for the 18km course.  Tom Payne also ran so we had two thirds of our X-Alps team in the event.  Tom did prove once again that despite lack of training on his part he can still run faster than me with a time of 1hr 19mins!

However, running a relatively short road race is not particularly impressive training for the X-Alps.  In the X-Alps, we'll have to push ourselves day after day.  That is why, rather naively, I managed to let Tom convince me that running in the Course de l'Escalade the next afternoon was a good idea.  And so with heavy aching legs I lined up once again on a starting line in the old town of Geneva to run three undulating laps of its cobblestoned sreets.  Last time I ran this race, prior to the last X-Alps, I completed the 7.2km course in 29mins, but this time, with sore legs, I managed a poor 34mins.  Frankly, I was just happy to get around.

Both my daughters also ran in the childrens races in the morning too, so it was a family day out!  Each finisher gets a gift, and this year it was a tray.  It's all right but I don't think we really needed four of them in our house!  I'm sure the Dukes army didn't all go home with a tea tray!

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