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J80 - Monday, January 4: Monreal del Campo (+1km) – Gargallo (Marker 194 N211)

79.85km  10H53’
Altitude 975m
In France it’s back to school and I’m sure that all the school children have made the best New Year’s resolutions: use self discipline and be attentive in the classroom, do their homework, etc., etc.  For your information, your Spanish neighbors will be on vacation until January 11.  The feast of the Epiphany, January 6, is a holiday in Spain.
Twelfth Night cakes are in all the pastry shop windows and look nothing like what we see in France before Christmas (time doesn’t go quickly enough so we always have be ready for things in advance.  I wonder when we will start seeing things for Christmas at All Saints’ Day!!!)  The Spanish Twelfth Night cake is a kind of brioche with candied fruit on top in the shape of a crown.  We will test it for you but I have to admit that I’m going to miss the almond paste in our French cakes.
On this 4th of January, in the mountains, the clouds are leaving us in peace and haven’t given us any rain.  The N211 is a beautiful wide road that connects no large cities and there is little traffic.  We know that snow is forecast for all of France and we are somewhat apprehensive about the passes in the Pyrenees.  We are three days ahead of our scheduled arrival in Toulouse, January 16, but that is what Serge wants because we might get stuck if a snowstorm blocks our route.  It’s best to be cautious and Serge never misses an appointment.
The mood was good today: here are two amusing stories:
•    After seeing us at the Bañon pass, a shepherd came to find out what we are doing.  There was hand shaking and gesticulating to explain, during which the man’s two sheep dogs were able to have a good snack.   The door of the van was open and the plate which Joël had prepared for Serge with sausage, ham and potato chips was within easy reach so the two hounds had a real feast.  
•    Still in a jovial mood, during a refueling halt (either seated to eat or a 5 minute lie down) as he was getting up Serge said “Geriatric Department, room number 12, come on Mr. Girard, let’s go but stop running after the wheelchair of Suzanne, it’s not the Ducato even if it is green.  And don’t take her vanilla pudding, it’s not a refueling.  Please be reasonable and go back to your room; you finished your run around Europe 50 years ago!  Mr. Girard!  it’s time to go to bed….”
As you can see, we have some good laughs on this run around the European Union, and we need it because the beautiful weather I spoke of earlier abandoned us at km 60.  The rain came down heavier and heavier until the finish, which Serge reached, as I indicated at the start of the log, after 10 hours and 53 minutes and almost 80 km!
Now for a short talk concerning the global positioning beacon, which Serge carries every day and which makes it possible to track him on the map for the entire race.
Here is what Gaëtan Louis of the Sport TK company has to say:
Serge Girard has set himself an extraordinary challenge and Sport TK wanted to follow him closely the entire time and help you discover all the roads of Europe that Serge will take to meet this challenge.
Sport TK has made available to Serge the beacon described below
He wears it around his waist and it makes it possible to follow his progress within approximately 10 meters, minute by minute on the satellite map (Google Earth).
This beacon carries 2 technologies which are now well known:
•    The GPS  (global positioning system) for tracking
•    The GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) for communication of data related to the GPS information to a computerized Server platform
The information gathered by the server, on a specified frequency, is then loaded on a web server which is accessible to everyone who connects to the site
Run with me
For your own applications: from this site you will be able to do the following, depending on the characteristics you choose:
•    Visualize the movements of the beacon in real time
•    Visualize the route covered over a period (historical)
•    Visualize again the route over the time period chosen at the speed you wish (from real time speed to RT x 64)

There is a large selection of available applications:
•    For ultra races in order to know real time performances: for example, it is possible to position an athlete by average speed, by the distance which separates him/her from other runners, etc.
•    To reinforce  security
•    To visualize an event on a large screen
•    To locate security teams on a sports event, or any other event for that matter
•    To follow trails or hikes
•    To follow water sports events (regatta)
Technical specifications:
•    A beacon which is no bigger and just as light as a mobile phone
•    A GPS chip
•    A SIM card (supplied with the beacon)
•    Autonomy of at least 10 hours (a charger is supplied with the beacon)
•    Autonomous operation, nothing has to be done by the user other than turning it on and off.
•    A user friendly web site accessible by everyone.

This equipment is set up according to the specifications of the race or event and there is a daily rental for the beacon.
For more information don’t hesitate to consult:

Tomorrow : Alcaniz – Caspe (N211)

Town : Gargallo (Communidad de Aragon)

GPS : N40.84600° W000.55059°