80.9km â€“ 10H09â€™
Final preparations for departure take place in early morning chill; Serge is ready with a few courageous runners. In the morning Serge is not very talkative, he is already concentrating on the day ahead. If the body sometimes gives way under the strain, he has to retain the mental strength for long hours. Even though he enjoys the company of other runners, sometimes he has to stay in his bubble and everyone understands this.
The thermometer doesnâ€™t register more than 8Â°C and the wind and humidity makes it seem colder but it doesnâ€™t keep Serge from running in shorts. As soon as he is alone he asks for his walkman, for the first time since departure. Listening to disco music Serge lengthens his stride. After DouĂ© la Fontaine there are sparse showers.
Just before a place called lâ€™Ebaupinaye, we enter the department of Deux SĂ¨vres and leave the Pays de Loire Region. Roof tiles replace the slate of Anjou. The terrain is more uneven than yesterday. We pass Argenton-lĂ¨s-VallĂ©es at km 60 and the stage ends with an interminable straight line where cars race by, barely giving Serge the time to step onto the shoulder. Our runner dreams of finishing but because he is only expected at 4:45 he is early. He takes a short cut and walks with several runners from Bressuire to pass the time.
90 students from the Notre Dame high school are waiting for Serge at the Alain MĂ©tayer Stadium. The CJD team who is organizing the evening is ready. The mayor, Jean-Michel Bernier and his deputy, Jean Grellier, are waiting for Serge at the finish line. Alain Prual is there too. This athlete holds the French 24 hour record with 268.859 km. He is a six time French champion, twice runner up in the European championships and twice runner up in the world championships. He is a man to know, whose experience is shared.
The evening continues with a conference in the superb sports hall.
Thanks go to Eric and all the CJD team of Bressuire, who made it possible for me to discover a city I didnâ€™t even know existed. To find it I had to look for it on my map. You may have to get out your atlas too!
Town : Bressuire
GPS : N 46.84222Â° - W 000.48511Â°