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J21 - Friday, November 6: Pornichet (Place des Oceanides)-Nantes (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany)

84.5km – 10H59
Altitude 10m
Departure at 7:41 AM from Pornichet. Its pitch black and the streets are deserted. This morning only one courageous runner is waiting for Serge. The machinery takes time to warm up because Serge is still not completely awake. There are mornings like that when you get up and it’s like sleeping standing up.
Serge heads in the direction of Sainte-Marguerite, then Saint-Nazaire. Chance is with us because 200 students of the 6th grade are ready to run the schools cross country on the beach. René went ahead and briefed them about Serge and what he has set out to accomplish. So the kids ran with Serge for 600 meters to encourage him and this kind of thing gives you energy for the whole day. There was a fantastic atmosphere and a spontaneous and disconcerting joy for life.
Frédéric came from Nantes by train to Saint-Nazaire to wait for Serge and finish the stage with him. For the anecdote, he ran a stage of 70.5km. Since he had never run more than a marathon it was a real joy for him.
It seems that Serge has eaten a double ration, he makes good time and takes a good rest near Cordemas, to be on time at 3:00 PM to meet Guillaume, Paul and the runners from the association “Run with,” the Nantes branch of the association “Dunes of Hope.”
Everyone is ready and the Joëlettes (a special wheelchair invented by a Frenchman for cross country runners, see site http://www.hce.asso.fr/-La-Joelette) of Paul and Guillaume, 13 years old, are waiting to join Serge as he comes by. TV station France 3 is also present. Serge arrives after running 53.5 km, greets everyone and the race takes off again, this time with more people and with a motorcycle escort of national police to ensure safety.
Once in Couëron, the convoy runs along the north bank of the Loire to reach Nantes around 5:45PM. Menacing clouds that hover since morning give way to a heavy sky but we are lucky because the drizzle will not fall until we reach Nantes. As we proceed runners continue to join us, the youngest are waiting for Serge at Place Royale to run the last kilometer to the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. There are at least 50 children, handicapped youths and the less young who cross the finish line inside the castle, after crossing the draw bridge. Paul and Guillaume cross the finish line walking, assisted by Serge and other children. The stage finishes at night with a send up of balloons from this fairy tale place.
Thanks to Jérome, a young director, who brilliantly orchestrated the logistics and thanks to the Union Financière de France who contributed heavily to the conviviality at the end of the stage.
Thanks and sweet dreams to all the good fairies. Serge is already in the arms of Morpheus!

Town : Nantes

GPS : N 47.21617° - W 001.54912°