Mar 11, 2022
Ten years ago today I ran through the town of Quartzite, Arizona, where Wyatt Earp had briefly spent time as the sheriff. A year later I was running through northern Provence, approaching the Burgundy region. As long ago as it was, the memories are still crystal clear in my mind. You can read about French part of journey below.
Mar 8, 2013
Distance today = 47.36 km; Total distance = 17,618.61 km; Location = Malaucene – 44 10.450′ N, 05 07.981′ E; Start time = 0904, Finish time = 1720
I woke to pouring rain – oh no, not again. But, by the time I started to run, the rain had stopped, and within half an hour the sun was out. It ended up quite a nice day, and certainly the hottest since I began in Europe. I could easily have run in shorts and a T-shirt.
By mid morning I had crossed the Rhone River. It’s the third time I’ve crossed this river on the same bridge, although the first two times were on a bike. From there, I was running through the Chateauneuf du Pape area of the Cotes du Rhone wine region. There were vineyards and wineries everywhere.
There is also a French Air Force base nearby, and they must have been doing drills today, as there was a constant stream of fighter jets landing and taking off. The sound of these things is incredible. You can hear them from miles away.
At this point, the clouds really started to clear, and all of sudden, the Giant of Provence stood in front of me. For those unfamiliar with the term, this is the name given to the long extinct stand-alone volcano of the region, Mont Ventoux. It is legendary on the Tour de France, and an impressive sight, rising up from the surrounding countryside. In 2011, I rode to the top of the mountain three times in one day, from the three different towns around its base – about 4,500 metres or 15,000 feet of climbing in a single day. I believe there are only about 4,000 people in the world who have ever done this, and I was quite chuffed at my achievement. I guess running around the world might top it, though, given there’s only one person in the world so far who has done it, and another two of us part way through at the moment.
I finished in the town of Malaucene, one of the three towns at the base of Mont Ventoux. I have come here to pay homage to the mountain. I would have run up it, except the road is closed for winter. I have run to the top before, but never from the very bottom. Oh well, it wasn’t to be.
From here, I’ll be heading north toward the Burgundy region over the next week. Definitely looking forward to that.
Mar 9, 2013
Distance today = 54.14 km; Total distance = 17,672.75 km; Location = Le Serre de Turc – 44 30.555′ N, 05 05.818′ E; Start time = 0843, Finish time = 1733
Today’s run would have made for an interesting stage of the Tour de France. It was mostly flat, but the long and gradual uphill toward the end would have taken the sting out of the sprinters. It wore me down a little.
Mid-morning I passed through the town of Vaison la Romaine, with its Roman bridge and medieval fortifications. This, coupled with its modern restaurant and shopping culture, makes it a town worth visiting (not that the shopping interests me, but the restaurants and history do).
I made my way north through Provence, on a similar route to that I’ve cycled before in the reverse direction. That was in summer, with lavender and sunflowers in bloom. At the moment, it’s all cut back and looking very bare.
For much of the day I could see Mont Ventoux behind me – the Giant of Provence. It was shrouded in clouds, but they did lift on occasions to reveal a snow-capped peak.
The last part of the day was up through a gorge. Just before I reached it, I passed through a small village that had a sign indicating it had been occupied by the Nazis on Hitler’s orders. I’m not sure what they did to warrant such individual attention. I finished at the top of the climb in the cute little town of Le Serre de Turc.
Mar 10, 2013
Distance today = 52.31 km; Total distance = 17,725.06 km; Location = Chabeuil – 44 51.745′ N, 05 00.395′ E; Start time = 0831, Finish time = 1709
The weather was perfect today. Actually, the last few days have been much warmer, and it really feels like spring has sprung. I’m even down to wearing a short-sleeve shirt.
The first part of the run was quite hilly, although more down than up. Early on I passed through the town of Dieulefit, another of those classic French towns worth a visit.
By early afternoon, I had made it to Crest. This is another place with a medieval town centre. A lot of this region has a Roman background, and there are occasional remnants of that past to be seen.
Later in the afternoon I was on a road I had cycled in 2009. I even passed a spot where I’d taken an artistic photo of Chips and Klitty in a field of garlic. Memories!!!
It was a solid day, although my feet were hurting a bit by the end. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
Carmel had difficulty again finding accommodation. The first few places she tried on the GPS list were closed. She ended up having to pick me up when I finished running, and we drove around until we found somewhere that was open.
Mar 11, 2013
Distance today = 47.60 km; Total distance = 17,772.66 km; Location = Hauterives – 45 15.266′ N, 05 01.385′ E; Start time = 0845, Finish time = 1701
Another day of very pleasant weather, which always makes for a pleasant day of running.
Our breakfasts for the past several weeks have consisted of muesli with yoghurt and honey. We didn’t have any yoghurt this morning because the supermarkets were closed yesterday. So Carmel drove me the 8 km back to my starting point for the day, and went ahead to buy some yoghurt. I was to meet her in an hour or so for breakfast, when I ran past the hotel. At home, I always run before eating, and I have no trouble. However, because I’m used to eating first now, it took me only 2 km before I hit a point of low blood sugar. I was feeling very weak, and struggling with each step. Luckily it was only another kilometre to a shop, and I was able to buy a can of coke to get me through to breakfast.
After my muesli, I headed on to the town of Romans sur Isere, another of the 2000 year old settlements from this region. Four years ago, we stayed just outside this town, in a lovely old mansion. In front of the building were some blocks from a Doric column, being used as stools. Apparently, there are many such artefacts from the Roman days that are just lying around in fields, or being used as part of structures that were built long after the Romans departed.
The afternoon involved a long climb to the high point of the local region (I always seem to choose routes that involve climbing). I was surprised at what a good view I had. I could see clear over the nearer mountain ranges of the Vercors and Chartreuse, to the Alps themselves. They were a long way away, but their snow-capped peaks stood out like white beacons.
I’ll finish with a note about dinner last night. We were given a menu in English, and Carmel decided to order the sausage and potatoes, thinking this must be a French version of bangers and mash. Not so. The sausage (there was a single fat one) was filled with offal and large chunks of fat. Carmel couldn’t eat it, so gave it to me in exchange for some of my salmon. I couldn’t eat it either, so we effectively shared a single meal (her potatoes were OK, though). In general, the food here in France has been great, but there’s always a negative surprise waiting somewhere down the line.