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J314 - Wednesday, August 25: New Galloway - Cairnryan

78.66km  – 11H08’
Altitude : 51m
23,000 km in 313 days 00 hours 11 minutes – Welcome to Northern Ireland
After a quiet day yesterday, where I was not searching for roads suitable for a runner and where I took the time to live at the rhythm of Serge’s race, today is another matter.
A 7H00, Serge part accompagné de Daniel et René pour un itinéraire tracé sur 34km que j’estime peu compliqué et sûr pour Serge, il me reste 4H30’ pour tracer le reste de l’itinéraire, cela paraît suffisant, mais ce sera le temps qu’il me faudra pour faire les 34 premiers kilomètres puis galérer pour éviter les villes de Lurgan et Portadown, et pour rejoindre Gilford. Arrivée à Newry, trouver un hôtel pour ce soir et revenir pour parcourir un autre itinéraire afin de faire le bon choix. Avec toujours en tête, le timing, le meilleur choix pour Serge et tracer un itinéraire sans faille dans le GPS du véhicule suiveur.
At 7:00 a.m. Serge leaves with RenĂ© and Daniel on a 34 km itinerary which I feel is uncomplicated and safe for Serge.  I had 4 and a half hours to scout the rest of the itinerary and I thought it would be s enough.  But, it took that amount of time drive the first 34 kilometers, which also entailed struggling to avoid the cities of Lurgan and Portadown to reach Gilford, arrive in  Newry to locate a hotel for the night and return via another itinerary in order to choose the better of the 2 (always keeping in mind the best route for Serge and  an itinerary with zero errors on the GPS, for the support crew’s vehicle).
On the secondary roads we are taking, the average speed does not exceed 40 KPH, to which you have to add the time it takes to turn around, analyze the maps and GPS.  At 12:30 p.m., I join the team, who celebrated the clocking of 23,000 km without me (I also missed the 30,000 km in Spain).  I stay with the team until 2:30 p.m. at km 50, once we are past the city of Lurgan.  During those 2 hours, I try to answer a few e-mails, look at the map for tomorrow and answer a few phone calls.  And during that time, Serge is running and does not feel well.  He is again feverish, with a sore throat and stomach ache.  Once again, we must alternate a dose of aspirin and Tylenol.  I leave to try to find an itinerary for tomorrow.  I head off in one direction which is not good because it is too dangerous on foot.  I turn around and get stuck in traffic in the city of Newry.  The second possibility is not perfect and has several dangerous portions but I continue and cross into Southern Ireland.  At 4:30 p.m. I finish my reconnaissance and though I am dissatisfied I go to the hotel because there isn’t time to try a third possibility, which in any case would not be flatter because we are in a hole and it’s very complicated because of the many turns.
It is 5 :00 p.m. when I empty the vehicle.  The parking lot is full and I worry that there won’t be a spot for the van.  5:25 p.m.  I go to the reception desk and discover that the Wi-Fi does not work.  In the end, I know  I have not stopped for a minute during the past 11 hours but I feel that I haven’t accomplished anything.  I haven’t been able to respond to e-mails and I know there are quite a few which are getting lower down on the ever-increasing pile.  I know that tomorrow’s itinerary is not great, or at least it only half satisfies me, and we have to look near Dundalk to ensure it will be OK for Serge.  The logistics for the city stages in France worry me and take up a lot of time, which I don’t have. For the past 2 days I have been unable to pause in order to work and at well past 9:00 p.m. I am still at the computer working to update the site.  My  only pause is for dinner with the team.  At this time my mind is foggy with fatigue and tomorrow the alarm will ring at 6:00 a.m. or earlier, like every morning.  And the day will be intense.  Everyone who knows Ireland and its roads hastened to warn us that it would not be an easy place for Serge to run.  I confirm this because even if the small roads are relatively traffic free, the Irish drive fast and there are many curves with no visibility.  Serge has to open his big ears and climb up on the bank whenever necessary, which is too often.
Strangely enough, I would not have thought that the urban development and roads would be such a source of complication, and would lessen our pleasure.  It is true that on previous races we were in distant and very often wild countries, where we only had occasional problems concerning the roads.  Once you knew a country it only took a day or so to figure out which road would be best, just as it was in England and Scotland.  On this Around the European Union Footrace, the countries change quickly and we have to adapt each time.
So, 24 hour days are long enough, especially when  you need 8 to 9 hours of sleep like I do to operate properly.  I am unhappy I don’t have enough time for in-depth study of Northern Ireland, which we leave  tomorrow, because the history of this country is a real serial novel and it  merits study.  In any case, this evening we are stopping in Newry, at the foot of the mountains and on the seaside.  It is a predominately catholic city, on the border of Eire and it exudes youthful vitality.
I like precision  and work well-done, and recently I have had  the feeling I am doing everything but badly.  So, hang in there, the important thing is that Serge advances against all odds.
A word concerning Daniel and RenĂ©, who involuntarily almost carried off a clandestine passenger during a feeding.  A little Jack Russell terrier saw the van’s open door and seized the opportunity to investigate.  RenĂ© closed the door and Daniel hearing a noise, turned and saw the little dog sitting quietly near the ice box.  He was liberated immediately.
Insolite : Serge a trouvĂ© un compagnon pour les 23000km (voir la photo) !    
Strange :  Serge found a companion for the 23,000 km (see the photo) !

Town : Newry (Irlande du Nord)

GPS : N 54.11’12.0° W 006.21’49.9°