Day 1 – Paris Marathon + Paris to Colombes, 30.7 miles
We had an early start at 6:20 so that we could get the train, then metro to the race. Though we all met together most people managed to get detached and ended up running the race on their own (with 33 000 others of course). The actual marathon is a great race and well organised. The course takes you round some of the cities famous attractions as well as into the suburbs and parks where the support was minimal at times. It was also really cold, and I ended up wearing the free poncho from the expo until 5km, but never felt really warm throughout the race as I was attempting to keep the pace low. Managed to get round in around 3:42, with no major problems and felt in pretty good shape. From there it was just a case of waiting for the rest to complete. We then headed off to Colombes, a short 4.5 mile stroll. Surprisingly this passed very easily as I was concerned that my legs would seize up post-marathon. In fact they feel much better after the 4.5 miles than before. We covered the distance in around 43 minutes, which considering we had to contend with the Parisian traffic was not bad going.
Intend to have a lie in tomorrow as most people were shattered before they even got to the start line this morning.
Day 2 – Colombes to Lavilletertre, 30.1 miles
A very relaxing lie in till 7:30. Had breakfast at the accommodation of croissants, bread, jam and coffee. After packing the cars we left at 10 am with a daunting 31 miles ahead. The route out of Paris was surprisingly quiet with the route on small roads, including some off road sections, including a hill that gave us a glorious view over Paris. We made fine time and stopped every 5-10km to meet our support crews to take on food and our SIS energy drink. The legs were feeling pretty good considering the pounding that they got yesterday, and it only became noticeable when I stopped and had to set off again. Though after a couple of minutes I managed to find my stride and was running quite free and happily. We all stayed as a group until around the 20 mile mark where the route became easier to follow through still more glorious countryside. I should add that it probably helped that the weather was stunning though a cold wind was blowing off the river took the edge off the temperatures. The last 5 miles were a bit of a slog but after a total running time of 5 hours and 11 minutes (for 30.1 miles) then I think that is perfectly normal! Accommodation tonight is good, we will be sleeping in a gymnasium on mats on the floor though I think we will all sleep well. Luckily we will be cooking for ourselves so a huge pasta feast awaits. Body still holding up well with just a few ‘normal’ aches and pains and not a blister in sight. Looking forward to a shorter day tomorrow at 25 miles, which should fly by?
Day 3 - Lavilletertre to Montroty, 26.2 miles
A tough day but I think they are all going to be tough from here. A really great route, I am exceptionally pleased with the route as the roads are so quiet and perfect for running. Today took us through forests, up a few big climbs and across some great countryside. We ended up with a total running time of 4 hours and 30 minutes with a bit more added on for stops to refuel (what can I say about the support – amazing!)We totalled around 26.2 miles recorded on my Timex GPS so that is the third straight marathon. Really pleased to finish the day as the legs were feeling exceptionally weary in the latter stages. Unfortunately Paul and Thierry didn’t complete the day’s stage, both due to some injuries, and I am really sorry for them as I knew how badly each wanted to finish the whole route. On the positive side, Cheesa managed to complete the day in fine style and was found to be setting the pace for the majority of the route. Hopefully the other two will be running again before the week is over. Arrived at the accommodation which is fantastic and is in an incredible location. Tomorrow is being named the ‘killer’ day as at 31.1 miles it is the longest and we are all pretty tired already. A barbeque tonight and then an early night awaits.
Day 4 – Montroty to Pommereval, 31.3 miles
Day 5 – Pommereval to Dieppe, 21.0 miles
Today was the shortest day but it felt pretty hard. We had to get up exceptionally early for a 6 am start and it was so cold in the darkness. Bizarrely after days of glorious sunshine the first different weather we encounter is snow. My ankle started to hurt during the final few miles and so I was glad to reach the ferry terminal and to complete the French portion of the trip. The run to the Youth Hostel was taken steadily and as a cool down for the long day ahead.
Day 6 – Newhaven to Lingfield, 29 miles
Without doubt the hardest day so far. Over 29 miles of sheer torture. The roads from the South Coast through to Lingfield were very undulating with the downhill sections being as equally painful as the uphill sections. My right ankle started to cause me some major discomfort, though, once you start running you can almost bear the pain. We made a stop at 20 miles and everyone after eating some lunch had a short sleep. I had real difficulty starting up again and the final 9 miles passed very slowly and I was pleased to arrive in Lingfield. With only 2 days to go the end is certainly in sight!
Day 7 - Lingfield to London Blackheath, 25 miles
The shortest day and the only one not to be a full marathon, though pretty close at 25 miles. You could really see the pain on everyone's faces today as the route took in some major climbs, one at 20% gradient, though I had no one to blame but myself! The roads were small and picturesque until the very final stages where we followed a straightforward route though the capital until Blackheath and the start of the London Marathon. Everyone was exceptionally pleased to have got this far, having now run from Paris to London.
DAY 8 – Flora London Marathon, 26.2 miles
A personal disaster for me. With the end within touching distance, I was forced to pull out from the challenge. A fitful nights sleep including bouts of sickness left me physically exhausted and unable to keep anything down in the morning. I nonetheless started the race hoping that I could rely solely on mental strength to pull me to the end. However, it soon became clear that I wasn't in a fit state to continue, as I couldn't keep any thing down from the aid stations. At the 5-mile marker, I decided enough was enough and withdrew from the race, which was definitely the right thing to do. I am very pleased that I managed to do over the 200 miles to get to London and helped the others to complete this challenge.
I would like to express my thanks to everyone who contributed to this challenge, in particular Thierry and Tobie without whose hard work the challenge would not have gone ahead.
Finally I would like to thank the support who during the week were amazing. Despite having to sit in a car for a week tending to the runners every needs - handing out supplies, navigating the route, cooking and cleaning, they never broke from a smile and made the challenge thoroughly enjoyable for all involved. In addition my thanks go to Sarah who managed to cycle the route and much much more, and was invaluable in terms of support on the bike. She also took all of the photos that you see on this site as well as offering support through the planning stages of this project.
Find out more at the event's excellent website
Photos: Sarah Belton. Many more photos