So with three weeks of steady running under the belt it was time to head off to my Altitude Training spot in Font Romeu. Car packed, puppy passports in hand and my designated driver, coach Rodgers, we were ready to hit the road.
Earlier in the week SOSrehydrate.com had sent me a great supply of hydration sachets for the training camp. I was lucky enough to get in touch with SOS just before heading out to Beijing and they had supported my hydration out there. The SOSrehydrate was a very essential addition to my training and kept me hydrated well throughout in the intense heat and humidity in China.
On the road and the travel was going smoothly. We travelled by Eurotunnel, the puppies had their little passports in hand. Over to France and we had planned our usual stop overs at our usual running spots.
The Chantilly horse racecourse (or ‘hippodrome’ in French) and forests are one of my favourite running spots in the world. The dogs loved running through the extensive trails with me. We only met the odd few deer on our run and then Richard on our way back to the car. Limoges is another fantastic place, the forest and lake provide lovely off-road running trails and the river trail is also another great route to take out and back from our hotel.
Next destination before Font Romeu was to be Toulouse, We were on the motorway and travelling along well after our morning river run, planning our evening run in Toulouse before dinner when disaster struck. The car seemed to lose power and the engine started to sound rather sick! We got the car pulled into the hard shoulder but it was the same width as our car and as the large lorries zoomed by we rocked from side to side. Richard called the French emergency services and we went to stand on the grass bank. We only had to wait 30 minutes before the rescue vehicle arrived, towed us onto the back (with us inside the car with the whippets) and drove us back towards the nearest town (Brive, of rugby fame).
Two hours later and the mechanic found the problem, one of the rollers had come off the timing belt and so the diagnosis for the engine was not looking good. The garage did not have the parts to try and fix a new roller on to test the engine and so the car had to be transported to the nearest Hyundai garage 50miles away! At that point I was so glad I had taken out extra European Plus Insurance at the beginning of the year with Diamond.
Another three hours later and Richard and I (whippets in tow) were transported by taxi to a hotel for the evening. I’m sure the pups wondered what was going on but they were more relaxed than us and we spent a pleasant (but stressed) evening in Brive and had some lovely food. Next morning and of course we needed to get the most important thing done first, our runs! With no transport we had to settle for running around the streets of Brive during rush hour which wasn’t ideal but we managed and felt better for it after. Another taxi journey (60 minutes) to the Hyundai garage to see what lay ahead of us and it didn’t look good. It was the same diagnosis as the last garage (plus another charge!!) and no parts to test the engine (until the end of the week). But they confirmed that because of what happened the car would not be economically repairable!!! 🙁
So what are the options when you are stranded 2/3 of the way down France with 6 weeks of luggage and two whippets??? The insurance would cover a hire car to get to our final destination but needed to be left back, but this would not get us back home in 6 weeks time!!! Meanwhile the broken car was being repatriated home.
So what were we to do? From my previous blogs, I’m sure you have all read that runners will go to extreme lengths to make sure their running is the number one priority! So plan B (plan A being that the car would be fixed and back on the road) was to get a second hand car!!! Well we were going to have to do this anyway by the time we got home, only difference being that it would be French and a left hand drive, lol.
The looks we got from the garage owners when we told them we were looking to buy a car in a matter of hours. They found the fact that I was trying to get to my training camp in Font Romeu to start my Road to Rio preparation absolutely crazy, and I know….you’re thinking the same thing. Anyway we were into the garage at 8am, 8-mile run done along the river in Perigueux and insurance and bank transfers sorted by lunchtime and drove away by 4pm!!! Nuts, totally nuts…. but hey as I always say…..Its one for the book!
So we arrived in Font Romeu and only one day later than planned with empty pockets but with the whippets and all safe; my training partner Rose-Anne Galligan on her way from Barcelona airport and the fresh Altitude air and sun beating down on our backs as we completed our first run in the beautiful forests of Font Romeu, sure why not!