Victory in France

64Today saw the exciting climax of our Easter holiday orienteering with the third and final day of the 3 jours du Sud-Ouest taking place on the coastal dunes west of Bordeaux. Going into the chase I was lying in second place on H21A by 1:49 having won the second day with an (almost) clean run. In third place was Matthias Mahr over whom I had a five-minute lead.

At the start I identified my rival, the Swiss Adrian Moser, but was slightly dismayed to see him rocket out of the box ahead of all the other leading runners. At the second control, I managed to invert a valley and consequently wasted time searching for the control on the wrong side of the feature. It was therefore with some surprise that, at the ninth control, I saw Adrian hunting for the control in an unmapped clearing. Based on the previous days, I had concluded that I was probably the faster runner and was therefore happy for him to sit just behind me for the remainder of the course. The final leg was a 1km track run followed by a run-in across the beach in the town centre. I didn’t look behind me until I crossed the line at which point there was no sign of Adrian. It was nearly a minute before he eventually arrived!

Christine joined me on the podium at the prize giving (although her lead of 18 minutes on D21A was somewhat more substantial). Abi Weeds won D21E with fellow JOKer Jenni Adams taking second place. Jenni’s partner, the infamous Carsten Jorgensen, stormed round each day to win H21E with Al Buckley taking second place. (Sadly the French were holding separate races for their elite runners in parallel.) The Brits were in evidence elsewhere with Rich Guillaume and James Furness heading up H21C, Lesley and Martin Ward winning D21C and H35 respectively, Judith Holt winning D55, Carol Pearce D60, and Veronica Crawford D65.

70Next year’s French 5-Day is in the same location and I’d certainly recommend the area to anyone. The maps look a little green at first but the French don’t know the meaning of real undergrowth. There was some debate over the quality of the maps and I’d certainly question the use of 2.5m contours on the steeper areas inland. However, when you throw in the food, beaches, sunshine, cycle paths, and surfing, it makes a great holiday destination.

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