RACING ON THE SILK ROUTE

 

“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!” 
― Romaine Rolland

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Widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally-admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage” the white-domed Taj Mahal doesn’t seem to get any closer but draws me inexorably towards the finish line of the final stage. The course is flat, a bonus, and I’m coping much better with the heat and humidity after 11 days in the north-western Indian province of Rajasthan. As opposed to the other stages, today’s is on tarred road so requires less concentration – I let myself be pulled along towards the symbol of India – also the symbol of a man’s love for a woman. Legend has it that it was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife who died giving birth to their 14th child.

I run past some farm workers tending to lentil crops. Smiling and hospitable, a little curious about these strangers making their way towards the outskirts of Agra, they pause to greet us “Namaste” with a slight bow, palms pressed together. The women, however modest their caste, are always clothed in the traditional ghagra or kanchli in bright oranges, yellows, purples and blues, in stark contrast to the environment. The children run out from the villages and excitedly exchange a few words in English with us, some barefoot, others on bicycles and even Vespa scooters.

And as I near the bustling, dusty outskirts of Agra with its street vendors, tuctucs, Vespas and sacred cows barring the main streets, I suddenly wish my trip wasn’t drawing to a close. And now I know what Rumer Godden meant: “Once you’ve felt the Indian dust you will never be free of it.” India gets under your skin and all the more so when the experience is off the beaten track.

So what is it about the North Western province of Rajasthan that is so captivating? After all it’s hot, humid, dusty and insalubrious. The anarchic urban traffic and noise drive you crazy….Yet, the magic and beauty of this part of India is unrivalled, your senses are overwhelmed with spices, music, fragrances, soft silky fabrics, colorful bazaars.

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That is precisely what the Foulées de la Soie is about. As the Race Director, Jean-claude Le Cornec’s mantra goes ““It’s not so much about running than the actual journey ….if running were our only objective we’d miss out on an unforgettable experience”.

And SDPO has pulled off the unlikely mix of sport and culture successfully for almost 20 years. Le Cornec’s idea came to him after completing the Chicago to Los Angeles team challenge:

“In the 90’s I ran Chicago to Los Angeles (3,940km) as a team event on Highway 66 in the US! At the time ultra running was all about mileage and not about enjoying the scenery. I realized there was an opportunity for combining a run event with a cultural interest. And so in 1996 I started the Silk Route Race in China.” The sinewy wizened ex-runner exudes a certain amount of contagious passion and nostalgia as he talks about his key event “C’est la fête – it’s all about having fun and enjoying it.”

Fun it might be but nothing is left to chance:

“We recce our routes, – everything is tested – routes, travel arrangements, accommodation, logistics, timing etc. …..there are no nasty surprises”.

 

When Jean-Claude asked me if I wanted to be part of the second edition of the Silk Route Race in Rajasthan, I seized the opportunity. The SDPO staff includes emergency doctors, an official race photographer and physiotherapists, but everyone multi-tasks and helps out marking the route prior to each stage, setting up water tables, taking photos. I was given carte blanche to runsome stages to get a feel for the event, take pictures, mark the course and write daily race summaries.

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Last year’s Silk Route Race comprised 7 stages varying in length between 10km for the first get-over-the-jet-lag stage to 24km for the longest stage. Mornings are spent running and afternoons are spent sightseeing and discovering the Rajasthan culture.

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Multi-stage in Laos, May 1st to May 11th, 2014

This year  SDPO have organized a multi-stage in Laos, the unspoilt kingdom of a million elephants.

Laos ……a country as yet untouched by the modern demands, stress and pace of life. Its beauty lies in its people, century-old traditions and heritage, and its lush, pristine landscape. Beautiful green rice plantations, temples and waterfalls make up this oasis of exoticism.

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Mysterious yet authentic, Laos is a mountainous and landlocked country sharing its borders with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar and China to the north.

Lao people are frank, open and friendly, and they possess a strongly developed sense of courtesy and respect. Everyone who adheres to the latter will receive a warm welcome.

The multi-stage event includes daily stages of between 15km and 21km as well as cultural visits, boat trips to beautiful little islands, exotic cuisine and a fun, convivial atmosphere with people who share the same passion …..Travel, discovery, adventure and running or hiking.

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For further information on this not to be missed multi-stage check out the SDPO website where you can download the program and registration forms in PDF format.

http://www.sdpo.com/sdpo/SDPO-ENGLAND/FOULEES-DE-LA-SOIE-IN-LAOS—-THE-SILK-ROAD-RACE.html

 

 

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9th Alexander the Great Marathon Thessaloniki April 6th, 2014

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There is nothing impossible to him who will try.

Alexander the Great

 

 

Thessaloniki

The marathon was born in Greece, instituted with the fabled run of Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. A mythical distance of 42.195km run in almost every great capital around the globe. And so ordinary joggers over decades have felt the need to measure themselves against the official marathon distance and complete at least one. They pitch themselves against others or against themselves, aiming to finish, achieve a PB or raise awareness and funds for a cause or charity.

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Running a road marathon is also a great opportunity to travel to other parts of the globe and join the crowds of marathoners at the start of a “new experience”. When I was offered the opportunity to run in Thessaloniki, I grabbed it – after all isn’t Greece where the first marathon was run? Hopefully, I won’t meet with the fate of poor Pheidippides and I have no urgent message to deliver so the pressure is off! Having said this, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use it as a qualifier for Comrades, so the pressure is back on! Well, not exactly true as Thessaloniki is a historical city, the birthplace of Alexander the Great and so I intend taking my time taking in the sights during the event, enjoying some Greek cuisine pre-race and post-race too ……maybe a dip in the sea too and a barefoot loosen up jog on the beach!

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The course

The course takes you from Pella in front of the statue of Alexander the Great to Thessaloniki. The latter is 520km north of Athens and is the second largest city in Greece and the capital of Macedonia. The finish is in front of the White Tower on the Coast line.

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Why run this marathon? Well it’s a great way to discover this historical city home to a mix of Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish monuments. And if you’re less interested in sightseeing whilst running but more focused on a PB bear in mind that this is a flat route ideal for running fast! And finally, a non-negligible factor Thessaloniki was ranked by Lonely Planet as the world’s fifth-best party city worldwide with tons of cafés, bars, restaurants and attractions………Opa!!!!

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The Marathon Flame

The official lighting of the marathon flame will take place on Saturday morning at the archeological site of Pella. Afterwards the torch relay of the marathon flame runs the marathon course. The flame will be carried from Pella, the statue of Alexander the Great to Chalcedona, the Museum of Balkan wars, Agios Athanasios and Nea Mesembria, the Municipal Stadium of Ampelokipi (start of 10,000m) Eptalofou Square (start of 5,000m) and will end up at the White Tower of Thessaloniki where it will remain until the last runner finishes the marathon on Sunday.

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WIN A TRIP TO BEIJING MARATHON FOR A WEEK

Logo FDS

WIN A TRIP TO BEIJING MARATHON FOR A WEEK including

 

  • Return Flight
  • Full-board Accommodation for a week
  • Race Registration

 

All you have to do is take part in a team of 4 in the MASTER CHALLENGE in the Silk Route Race 23 September – 5 October 2013

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The challenge is open to

  • Private Sector companies
  • Military staff
  • Civil Service
  • Teaching staff – state and private
  • Universities
  • Business Schools
  • Hospital staff
  • Municipal staff

 

TEAM COMPOSITION

 

  • Teams must consist of 4 runners
  • The runners can all be from the same organization or a mix between those who work for the organization and those who are external to the organization
  • The team can be represented by runners who are not employed by the organization
  • Teams can be a mix of senior (< 40) and veteran runners (> 40)
  • Team ranking will not take into account categories

 

RACE CONDITIONS

 LOGO FDS Inde fond gris

  • The teams must bear the name of the organization (company, school, university, hospital etc.)
  • Race t-shirts must bear the name and logo/emblem of the organization represented as well as the Silk Route Race official logo
  • The Master Challenge will only take place on condition that there are 7 registered teams at the start of the competition

Prize/Trophy

 

The winning team will win a package to the value of 8000 euros:

 

  • Race Registration for Beijing Marathon for all 4 members
  • Hotel Accommodation for all 4 members for a week
  • Full Board for all 4 members
  • Return Flight Paris-Beijing for all 4 members
  • Excluding visa fees and travel insurance

The second team will win 3000 euros prize money

The third team will win 1800 euros prize money

For further info on the Challenge please contact your UK agent

carmontconsulting@gmail.com

Tel: + 44(0)7531130415 or +33(0)660446485

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Silk Route Race Schedule

The Silk Route Race Schedule * 23 September – 5 October 2013

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SDPO is proud to announce the Silk Race Schedule

  • Days are a mix of sightseeing, gastronomical discovery, relaxation
  • And of course running stages of 15 – 20km/day

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DAY 1

Flight Paris/Delhi

DAY 2

Delhi/Jodhpur

DAY 3      

Jodhpur

Trip to the Citadel “Mehrangarh Fort”

Stage Race 10km Of Jodhpur

DAY 4

Jodhpur/Jaisalmer

Trip to the Palace of the Maharadjahs

Observatory of Janta Mantar

Stage race Fort Pokran

DAY 5

Jaisalmer

Stage Race Citadel of Jaisalmer

DAY 6

Jaisalmer/Bikaner

Stage Race Thar Desert

DAY 7

Bikaner

Trip to the Citadel of Bikaner

Thar Desert Race

DAY 8

Bikaner/Shekhawati

Trip to Deshnoke Temple

Stage Race Shekhawati

DAY 9

Shekhawati/Jaipur

Trip to Mandawa

Stage Race Fort Amber

DAY 10

Jaipur/Agra

Trip to Fatehpur Sikiri

DAY 11

Agra

Trip to Taj Mahal

15km of Taj Mahal

DAY 12

Agra/Delhi

Trip to the Tomb of Emperor Akbar A Sikandra

Time Trial Akbar le Grand

DAY 13

Delhi/Paris

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*For safety reasons or if circumstances dictate the itinerary may be subject to modification without price readjustment

For further information on how to register for this race please contact the UK agent:

Niandi Carmont

+44(0)7531130415

+33(0)660446485

E-mail: carmontconsulting@gmail.com

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What’s your favourite piece of kit?

 

 

Runners are creatures of habit and only so slightly superstitious……our race kit is so important to us. We have ‘fetishes’ – those indispensable, well-worn articles or bits of kit that come race day we can’t do without.

Well my indispensable bit of kit is not my highly sophisticated sports watch, or my lightweight shades ….it’s my RL skort ….my Raidlight skort.

What’s a skort? Well it’s a skirt/short and this one has it all. I first wore it on my 7-day run/trek on the GR20 in Corsica ….I was looking for something comfy, chafe-free, pretty much seamless and a drip dry garment as I was carrying a back-pack and wanted minimal weight.

It fulfilled all these criteria ….and it’s feminine. It features a shorts lining with stretch mesh pockets for tissues, gloves, gels, tampons and a lightweight breathable skirt outer.

So if you’re looking for the ideal garment for that multi-stage in the dessert or trek in the mountains ….this sexy piece of kit might just be the answer.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall ………

Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fattest of them all?

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Looking to lose weight after the Christmas period, because you stopped smoking, after baby’s birth or with the onset of menopause? Or simply because you are injured and can’t go running? Maybe 5kg, 10kg, or even 15kg? Well imagine losing half your body weight or the equivalent of 6 times what the average woman gains during pregnancy. Imagine losing more than what Paula Radcliff weighs ……

That was the challenge Marie Rousset set herself in 2009 and achieved after 8 months through exercise, running and diet. The only thing I have in common with Marie is her passion for running and fitness apart from the fact that we both completed our first marathon in 4H18. But the comparison stops there. Marie is an incredibly driven, motivated, determined and focused athlete and her story is an inspiration to all female runners struggling with weight issues or eating disorders.

And I forgot another of Marie’s qualities …..she’s also very empathetic and generous and has allowed me to publish her story so that it can inspire other women.

The trigger

2009. A TV studio. I was invited by my cousin. For the first time in my life I was ashamed of my appearance. I had tried every single diet under the sun …..Weight Watcher’s, high protein diets, crash diets, unaffordable nutritionists in Paris and all to no avail. Without willpower and real motivation it was a lost cause. My weight yo-yoed and the effect on my metabolism was catastrophic – I just gained more weight and had become increasingly demotivated. The slim me was trapped in a horrible waddling blubbery cumbersome body.

It’s in this studio that I realized things had to change and only I could do that. But it would take more will-power and determination I had ever invested in everything. And I had to believe in myself ….

I knew I would need to do some form of cardiovascular sport and so invested in an elliptical bike. I also decided to ask Damien Galtier a nutritionist from the Fleury Mérogis Hospital to help me with making the right nutritional choices. It really wasn’t all that hard …..I initially left out fatty foods.  Meals were balanced and uncomplicated …..veggies like asparagus, green beans, fish (not fried), poultry, fruit for dessert.

I started off doing 30 to 45 min of elliptical/day and increased the duration of the sessions. I was losing 2kg/week and 10kg/month. I was motivated to lose weight because people were tracking my progress on the TV program. My objective was to drop to 90kg before my 30th birthday. That meant 30kg in 5 months and my nutritionist was a little skeptical about this.

By this time I was doing 5 hours of sport every day: cycling, swimming, and walking. A total of 30 hours of sport a week. I sometimes spent 3 hours on the elliptical trainer. Because I was working shifts I could fit this around my schedule but it meant training until 2am sometimes.

I had never really liked running so I initially hadn’t given this option any thought. My Dad is a marathon runner so I knew how effective running was in keeping off the pounds. Three months later whilst vacationing in the US I took up running …..it was an eye-opener, a turning-point in the new slimmer, fitter and healthier me. Make no mistake, I was still pretty heavy when I started weighing in at 92kg and with the hot temperatures I was quickly out of breath.

Back home in France I persevered going out for a run as often as possible. I often did 2 sessions a day sometimes getting back as late as 11pm ……I was so motivated and I my endurance and speed both improved. Having done all the cardiovascular training on the elliptical machine stood me in good stead and I was running 30min without stopping.

By July 4th the scales tipped at 71kg ……I had lost 48kg in only 5 months!

October 2009 I registered for my very first race – the iconic ‘20km de Paris’ along the banks of the Seine showing off my new svelte figure as I crossed the finish line at the Eiffel Tower in 1H52!

Objective achieved! I had lost 60kg and gone from a size 28 to a size 8!

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I now needed to fix myself a new objective …..so I registered for Chicago Marathon in October 2010 which I completed in 4H18! As I crossed the finish line I swore to myself I would never ever inflict that on myself again but like any other marathon runner knows it is addictive and as soon as I got home I registered for Paris Marathon in April 2011 ….which I completed in 4H07. My PB to date is Paris 2012 in 4H01! I just missed the 4-hour barrier but who knows with Berlin in 2013?

What motivates me today? Having been there and suffered from obesity, I want to show others that you CAN do it! And not through surgery but through pure will-power – you just need to believe in yourself. If I could do it so can YOU! The best diet is exercise. It keeps your metabolism healthy and there’s no yoyo effect. The other advantage is that running tones you so even with all this weight loss I don’t have any unsightly loose skin.

Today 3 years on, I exercise daily: running, swimming and mountain biking.

Combining a weight-loss diet and exercise has meant I could go back to a normal healthy diet without gaining weight.

I also thought I would be a ‘fatty’ for life …..all you need is that trigger ….a person, a meeting, a shock ….something that makes you realize you can’t and won’t remain a ‘fatty’ for life!

I hope my story has helped some fatties and future skinnies out there! Best of luck and remember ‘If I can so can YOU’

Marie

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MULTI STAGE RACE INDIA 2013

India the country of the Maharajas ……ever thought of running on the Silk Route and soaking in the local culture and atmosphere? Well the Foulées de La Soie might just be what you are looking for.

The second biggest French- organized multi-stage organized by Jean-Claude Le Cornec is definitely one of those to tick off on your bucket list if running means more to you than just running. Jean-Claude’s mantra reflects what this event is all about “

2012 marked the first year of this multi-stage in India. Over the past 2 decades the event has been held in China – on the Silk Route but with a focus on the Great Wall of China. This year it was decided to opt for a change of scenery and judging on the feedback the 160 participants were definitely enchanted with the new course.  An Arabian nights fairytale with a sporty touch ….on the menu: off the beaten track run courses, colorful markets, spicy and flavorful local cuisine, cultural outings, a visit to the famous Taj Mahal …..what more could you want? Jean Claude’s idea was to mix sport and culture, add a pinch of exoticism and mysticism and serve it up at a reasonable price.

What also makes this event particularly attractive is that it is open to hikers/speed walkers too. The distances for the latter are a little shorter and the participants are ranked separately.

Almost a fortnight of running daily stages of 15 to 20km and sightseeing in the North of India from Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan through rural landscapes and villages, desert regions and exotic locations all your senses are awakened.

The second edition will take place between 23 September and 5 October 2013. SPDO (Sport Development Performance Organization) organize an all-inclusive package with airfare, accommodation in 4 or 5 star hotels, local transfers by coach in India, sightseeing, race registration, 3 race t-shirts and most meals.

For further race info and pre-race bookings please contact the UK agent

Niandi Carmont

+44(0)7531130415

carmontconsulting@gmail.com

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