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J101 - Monday, January 25 : Saint-Julien les Martigues – La Ciotat

71.97km – 9H33’
Altitude: 12m

after the snow-capped Mount Ventoux, which we saw when we arrived in Cavaillon and after the Sainte Victoire Mountain, which saw the end of the stage in Aix, here we are at the beautiful blue Mediterranean.  The rain forecast yesterday didn’t materialize and there were some bright patches on the City of Marseille.  Rain like that I can take every day!

At the start this morning, BĂ©rengère and Denis are waiting for Serge.  It’s night, almost black, in the parking lot of the agricultural cooperative where we stopped yesterday.  The three runners leave in a group, then in Sausset with sidewalks, kerbs  and narrow streets things get complicated for BĂ©rengère, who has to guide Denis with her voice.  Serge has to keep his rhythm because he is expected at 11:00 in l’Estaque, a district to the west of Marseille.  After the planned 10 km, BĂ©rengère and Denis leave to pack their bags.  They will say goodbye at the vieux port of Marseille. (Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of this morning).
Serge continues on his way, alone, until km27, where everyone meets at the planned time: the runners of the CJD but also runners from Marseille who were alerted by Louis and his wife, who run a store in Marseille called “Marathonien”.  Among them, Alain d’Andria, a long distance runner who Serge met on the Badwater Ultra marathon in 2008.

At 12:30 Serge and some ten runners go through the Vieux Port in front of the fish market, before finishing this portion of the race in front of the city hall.  The team of the CJD chapter organizes a luncheon debate every Monday and today Serge is invited.  For the 2nd time since the beginning of the race, we sit at a table for lunch (the first time was for a picnic on the 3rd day on the stage at Evereux).  We appreciate this stop, not only for the friendly atmosphere but also because it is so interesting, thanks to the questions we were asked by Bernard and Eric of the CJD.  Our thanks to Virginie for taking care of the logistics of this very well organized halt.  Thanks to Florian, from Mizuno, for being with us this noon.  Serge ran 38km and I won’t bother you with the figures after the decimal point.

At 2:00 PM, Part 2 begins.  Christophe Vissant, from Aubagne is an ultra runner .  He took a day off and asked a few friends to guide and follow Serge to La Ciotat.  The atmosphere was fantastic, on a difficult course, which the experienced runners of the “Marseille-Cassis” race know well.  Josiane and Sandrine, accompanied by Dominique in a car, are part of the FoulĂ©e Des Teigne group.  They are here this morning at l’Estaque and also this afternoon to run a few kilometers between the exit from Marseille and Cassis.  They went all the way to the finish: “there is a great atmosphere” they say.  Serge is open to others and happy; he runs up to the Gineste Pass almost without trying.  JoĂ«l says that Serge has a beautiful stride and it’s a pleasure to see him so alert…
Christophe, Fadela, Laurent, Alain and StĂ©phane gabbed with Serge, whose face was breathing as much as his lungs.  Marie-Pierre and Gilles took care of the refueling for the small group from Aubagne.
In spite of the fact that the road is extremely dangerous between Cassis and La Ciotat, there is only happiness and our runners were like rays of sunshine moving along the road.

Go, Serge go « straight to the goal » as the well known chant of the Olympique de Marseille soccer fans goes.  I quote from Fadela’s visiting card: “Rue for Peace in the World” and I will add “united in shared effort” … only pleasure for everyone.
This evening we are staying at the camping site of La Ciotat, near the ebb and flow of the waves, which will rock us to sleep with sweet dreams.

Tomorrow : Ceyreste – Signes – Cuers - Collobrières

Town : La Ciotat ( Bouche du RhĂ´ne)

GPS : N43.18997° W005.62864°