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J341 - Wednesday, September 22: Epinal - GĂ©rardmer

76.14km  – 9H01’   
Altitude : 674m


The stage for October 16:  Montargis - Fontainebleau (the itinerary will be posted online later)
Finish October 17 at l’INSEP – Avenue de Tremblay, 75012 Paris
There will be no stage between cities
Serge will enter l’INSEP around 9:00 a.m. and will run on the track in the INSEP until 11:06 a.m.  He will be accompanied by everyone who wishes to run these last two hours of the Around the European Union Footrace, and celebrate the 365 days of the race.
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There was blazing sunshine to deck out the mountain at the beginning of the Vosges mountain chain from Epinal, the prefecture of the Vosges, a city of 37,000 inhabitants.  I spent the day far from Serge and very, very close to my computer, which I look at for many hours of the day.  Once again we are four in the support team, with the arrival yesterday of my brother, Christophe.  It gives us some flexibility, especially in the van.  I have to admit that it is great to have a driver to take over the tank for me.

This morning RenĂ© and I set to work on the itineraries between Dijon and Bourg-en-Bresse, then fine tuned the itineraries to ChambĂ©ry (not easy to access what with mountains, tunnels and roads with heavy traffic)  Some itineraries flow naturally, others are more difficult and it is always best to get input from people who know the region as well as foot or bicycle racing to fine tune the course. Serge is far from it all because he rarely knows where he is running during a stage.  He does know his stops and the city staged day after day and he does want to know about  the organization for the last kilometers and the schedule for meeting places. At Arches, the young members of the city’s CFA (Chartered Financial Accountant course) crossed the city with the runners.  At the entrance to Remiremont, Serge’s pace is easy and fast, like it was yesterday.  He is accompanied on the whole stage by the organizers of the stage, and the finish; the members of the CJD and other runners such as Serge, who came especially from Besançon to run part of the route with our runner.
This Wednesday afternoon, the young members of the ASRHV (the sports association of Remirmont Haut Vosges) accompanied the group from the entrance to the exit of the city.
 They were all dressed in red and went past the Marathonien shop owned by Jean-NoĂ«l, who provided refuelling for all the children.

There was a multitude of encounters, all different and always with a story to tell: Eric, who runs with his artificial limb, Pascal who pedals his bike with one leg.  Both of them are amputees who are smiling and fantastically motivated.  What a lesson for life!  This evening, for the third time, a UFF member has come to finish the stage with Serge.  I didn’t do my job completely because I don’t know his name but I remember his face.


Thanks go to the municipality for the refreshments they provided in the beautiful room in the City Hall and for the presence of the Assistant Director of Sports.  GĂ©rarder is a very pleasant city of 9,000 inhabitants where everyone seems to each other.  We feel as if we are part of a family and it is very nice.  All of that is thanks to the Epinal section of the CJD: 38 JD (out of 48) of the section ran or biked or were on roller blades  It was real sharing and the “Vosgiens” are really dynamic.

The diagnosis of Dr. BĂ©bert and Dr. Mabuze:  The more he has to climb,  the faster he goes, so as of tomorrow we will leave at 11:00 a.m. and will finish around 3:00 to 3:30 p.m.,   obviously for stages that don’t exceed 80 km!

Town : GĂ©rardmer (Vosges)

GPS : N 48.07’05.0° E 006.87’75.7°