Trail de vulcain

Map points inferred photo geolocations


This event was:

  • purpose of our journey.
  • event that made me wait until the end of February before leaving.
  • reason I had been training for 2 months
  • what gave our journey a sense of purpose

This was the trail de vulcain, three races - 21km, 42km and 80km - in the mountains around Volvic, near Clermont Ferrand, in the Massif Centrale region of France.

I was to run the 80km with Eric, Dad (my travelling companion) was to run the 21km and the others the 42km.

Dad had previously been signed up for the 42km, but due to injury couldn’t make it.

The day before we left, a week before the event, I went for a final training run in bad shoes and did something to my foot. It was sore after the run, and sore the next day, and the day after - in fact it was quite impossible for me to run on it. The healing was not aided by constant cycling, and it is only now (I am writing this one month and a half after the race) that I am able, once again, to run.

So I had to sit this one out.

It was snowing, there was snow at ground level, and in the mountains I am told it was really deep. Eric started out at 5am, and had already been running for 2 hours by the time we were having breakfast.

The marathon started at 8am. Robbie, my brother, had done no training to speak of, but was confident in his abilities.

The half-marathon started at 9am and I saw Dad run past me after the gun went off. I was worried about his injury and if he was being completely honest about his ability to run, even to himself, but he proved my concerns to be unbased as he finished strongly despite having gotten lost on a 5km detour.

Robbie also did well, finishing 52nd out of a field of 400. Dad and I were waiting for him to come in and he grimaced and said in response to our cheers “I’ve got cramp in both my calf” and he continued with his slightly comical running posture to the finish line.

Franck and the rest of l’equipe français stuck together for the course and finished after Robbie, leaving no man behind!

As we sat down eating the meal granted to all runners (and people who should have been running, like myself) we wondered about when Eric would get in. Franck ended up driving us back to the hotel in Riom. I left Robbie and Dad in the hotel room to go for a bike ride, they were sitting in their respective bunks playing each other at scrabble on their mobile phones.

I cycled through volvic and decided to lookin to the sports hall to see if Eric had finished yet, I determined that he had not, so carried on, riding about for an hour and a half as it gradually became dark and I had to turn my lights on.

Once again returning to the sports hall, I phoned Franck to see if there was any news on Eric, he said that Eric was at the hotel. He was infact in pretty good shape and didn’t seem too fatigued as we all sat down in the bar adjacent to hotel sipping Mojitas.

From Dads journal: Left hotel for Volvic race venue at 8am in Frank’s car. Dan unable to run due to injury but nevertheless giving everyone support. Eric set out at 5 30 am on 80k race. Robb, Frank, Jordan and ? began marathon race at 9 30 am. I started half marathon one hour later in 360 strong field trudging up a narrow mountain trail made hazardous by snow and ice. I fell over twice and took wrong turnings on three occasions. The worst moment was at the summit with a large group of runners arguing as to the next direction. Extremely cold and unable to communicate I made the decision to join the majority running back downhill for a mile to thankfully resume race on official route. Despite the extra miles I finished with at least a hundred runners behind me but in a worst ever time of 2 hours and 38 minutes. Robb running his first ever marathon equipped with survival kit managed to finish a respectable 59th in 5 hours 21 minutes despite suffering from cramp in the later stages. Most of the day spent at Sports Centre awaiting Dan’s friends to finish and eating food nibbles provided plus meal and beer for all runners at tea-time. Quiet evening playing Scrabble with Robb as Dan joined friends for drink in nearby bar.


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