Report by Trevor & Judith Lloyd
As a prelude to the Paris-Versailles run 2 of Sportsworld`s more senior members had entered the Ronde Ceretane – a 20km run in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Sunday the 20th Sept. dawned bright and clear. With the temperature over 20c and not a cloud in the sky it was a perfect day – for going to the beach, not running up hills.
9.45am and the local French band struck up with their usual umpha leading round a group of disabled athletes.
9.55am “Chariots of Fire” blared from the loud speakers, anticipation rose as did the temperature. Then the local French official raised his arm, fired the gun and we were off.
After a leisurely tour of the small picturesque town of Ceret we headed for the hills. The road at the back of the town wound ever upwards. Soon (if one could lift one’s head) magnificent views appeared – looking over the plains of Roussillon to the Mediterranean in the distance. Eventually a brow of a hill appeared. The top? Alas no.
After a short descent to the Hamlet of Reynes the route resumed its ever upward climb but now on a dirt track. Trees gave way to shrub-land where grazing goats regarded us with disdain. Then a fast but rough 3km downhill. The appearance of habitation signalled the outskirts of Ceret, to be followed by narrow cobbled streets before bursting out into the main pedestrian thoroughfare. The crowds burst into cheering, & clapping. Shouts of “Allez Allez” rang out.
The finish was in sight. I lifted my head and lengthened my stride. Just then 2 African runners glided past to complete the race while a race official guided myself and other poor souls off to the right to commence our 2nd lap! Merde! C’est domage!
Needless to say the hills were not any less steep the 2nd time round. The same old French madam stood outside her house with a garden hose doing her bit in cooling us down. Frequent use was made of the water stations which in the usual French tradition always include red wine, Muscat and spicy cake.
Eventually it was our turn to take the cheers of the now much smaller crowd and cross the finish line with the locals wishing us “bon courage”.
Our time? Definitely time to go to the beach.