Grand Trail Du Lac is going to be our first race in Europe and we picked our anniversary weekend for the special event.
We rode the train from Chamonix to Aix-Les-Bains today and a bus to Viviers du Lac, a small place right by the lake, Le Bourget du Lac. The first train ride to St Gervais of the three train rides broke down so as soon as Doug saw the train manager running around the train station panicked, he knew we were delayed. While I was looking at what to get on the vending machine at the station, a lady from a group of women also traveling spoke English to us and explained the situation. The train station manager is calling a taxi for all the passengers.
We had a short time to connect to the next train from St Gervais to Annecy but the taxi driver told us, there will be no problem making it. The three very wonderful French ladies were more worried about us so they had us get on the taxi first because of our short connection. We really didn’t say anything, just looked like dumb tourists and they just out of the blue, they helped us get on our way! It’s crazy. On our way to St Gervais, the ladies asked us where we were from and what were we doing in Chamonix. She told us she had adopted an American boy, her son. We got to the train station on time and as it turns out, she was also the same train with us. We saw her get off the train to meet her husband. We smiled and thanked her for the third time, she was really like a mom helping us.
Since we came to France, every single person we met was so helpful and really wants to help out. One thing I observed about the people in France is they like helping other people, from strangers. No kidding.
The weather is turning out really nice and we are at lower elevation than Chamonix for the race. We saw so many cyclists on the road today! The whole ride from Aix-Les-Bains had bike lanes on the roads. We had about an hour lay over in Aix-Les-Bains train station so we went across the street to get an Americane Hamburger, a baguette with hamburger patties. It was big, delicious and cheap. The small hole in the wall also had tacos of all sorts of filling but it’s not the tacos you know, it’s actually like a burrito panini – a flat hot burrito. It looked and in reading the kind of tacos fillings they had, it sounded delicious.
We walked a couple of miles from the bus stop to the running store where we were to pick up our bib numbers for the race. We were greeted with a big smile and the race volunteer spoke English to us. We got our numbers and she briefed us thoroughly with logistics for Sunday morning and the cut off times.
As soon as I got off the bus earlier, I immediately saw this giant mountain in our face and it looked like the profile graph of the race. Gulp. That is a big mountain! Doug had this big smile on his face as he walked past me. I was intimidated, concerned about finishing and all he can do is laugh about it. What is wrong with him?
In a way, I am happy to see Doug so relaxed and easy-going. Normally, he is more uptight but there is his face lit up and it’s telling me that no matter what happens we will have a good time. Last year, he was wrapping up things at his work and we were sleeping on the floor of our kitchen on a cheap air mattress. We never imagined we were getting ready to race a trail race this year in France! Doug is ecstatic about life…
34km is going to be brutal tomorrow. The cut off time for us to the highest point is 4:30pm and that’s not even the finish. It’s more than 7,000 ft climb. The first racer in the 34km is expected to arrive to the finish at 3pm, that’s like 5 hours! It is going to be a very hard race…
So, on race day which is tomorrow on Sunday starts out with a shuttle ride from the main center to Chanaz at 8am. We arrive at Chanaz at 9am and breakfast will be served. The race starts at 10am and who knows when we will finish. Clearly, in this race our goal is to finish!
The many training days of hiking and running in Chamonix helped our fitness and we are making progress but we won’t be in race fitness like last year before Manaslu Mountain Trail Race in Nepal.
This race is going to hurt, in a good way of course!