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J22 - Saturday, November 7: Nantes (Castle of the dukes of Brittany – Cholet (Coubertin stadium)

70.2km – 8H47’
Altitude 84m
At 8:00 this morning 4 runners arrive at the gates of the castle to start with Serge.  The sky is blue and there is sunshine all day long.  Once we pass ThouarĂ© and the 2 branches of the Loire, we enter vineyards where the vines have only a few leaves left and those will soon be carried away by the wind.  We are in the region of Muscadet wine on the tourist route of the vineyards of Nantes.  There is a succession of hills until we leave Vallet.
Serge leaves the town of Vallet escorted by the police, who were alerted by Christophe.  As we leave Chalousière we enter the second department of the Pays de Loire region:  Maine et Loire after the Loire Atlantique Department.  We also leave the vineyards behind.  Just for pleasure, Christian and his family come to see Serge and ask for autographs.
For the last few days, rest stops have been shortened.  Serge doesn’t take time to lie down in the van as he used to.  We have to remind him to sit down to eat during his feedings.  Serge moves ahead, fatigued.  His face is drawn and he concentrates on his task.  It’s very hard to share such fatigue especially when some 20 people are waiting for you at the 58th km in Saint-Macaire en Mauges.  These runners come from Cholet and are Young Managers, organizers of the stage, and a few runners from the club of “l’Entente des Mauges” among whom the president.  A long multicolored “column” dashes along the small country roads before reaching the center of Cholet.
Cholet is a city with trees and open spaces.  In 2007 it was named the most athletic city in France.  It is also the sub prefecture of the Maine-et-Loire.
There are some 50 children waiting to make a last run with Serge.  The majority of these children are enrolled in the athletic school of the Club of l’Entente des Mauges, which has 640 members, of which 240 are in the Cholet section.
We greet Thomas’s parents who brought us a brioche from Vendee, from Claude alias Senior Fructoline
Serge crosses the finish line with about 100 people around him.  It’s a real celebration organized by Franck and his team from the CJD.  The Coubertin stadium is seething with excitement and it reminds us of the famous saying: “In life it’s not victory that is important, it’s the battle, the important thing is not to have won but to have fought well.”  Some have understood this to mean “The important thing is sharing.”

Town : Cholet (Stade Omnisports Coubertin)

GPS : N 47.05014° - W 000.87570°