So, like a crazy person, I agreed (and I've already apologised to Michaela for having to back out of my other option for the same night - a girl's night out in Clermont in an Indian restaurant). Michaela and Lesley of course kept us up to date with how great their evening was via text messages.
I took one or two photos, not many, because frankly putting one foot in front of the other for 57km was more important and took a lot of concentration!
I have already given you the history of the walk so here we are in the hall before the start at midnight. I was shocked to see how many (crazy) people were there, at least a 1000 someone said.
Here is our group from the Massilon International School. We left Massilon at 9.30 Saturday night for the drive to Roanne. Massilon received the cup for the biggest group entry, I think there were 40 of us.
Here is Kelly with me just before the start, you can see that we have bright happy smiles at this point, not for too long when we'd realised what we'd taken on.
And so, at midnight exactle we took off, it was a 'braw bricht moonlit nicht' and we didn't even need our torches. The weather was perfect too, very mild for December and when it started to lightly rain at 5am it was actually very welcome and refreshing. We cruised the first 2 hours although it was a shock to our calf muscles, there are stops along the way where you can drink and have a snack and stretch your legs. Saucisson, cheese and soup didn't appeal to me very much though and I stuck to bread and chocolate at most of the stops.
By 5 am we'd reached halfway but still had a pretty big hill (mini mountain) to climb, even though the climb was tough, coming down wasn't a breeze either, hard on the knees!
At 8 am we'd reached 40 km, declined more soup and were raring to go for the last 17km, we were lulled into a false sense of security with the first 3km which were easy, very flat and on the edge of the road, I can remember being very positive on the phone to Neil and calculating the finsh at 10.30 ish.
But no, a horrible continuous climb and steep descent, and because of the rain, I had to change my socks and trainers at the last 'station de ravitalement' with 9km to go. It was 10am and the last 9km were horrible, horrible, horrible. Because I'd stopped for 15 mins to change my shoes etc. it was painful to get moving again and I had to take baby steps for 10 mins, Kelly was finding it easier to go quicker so guess what 'she abandoned me'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe that, this friend full of good ideas ( you know I'm only joking Kelly, I still love you and was happy enough to go at my own pace and save you listening to my moaning for the last 2 hours).
The downward slope into the town of Thiers was the worst part for me, it seemed never ending and everyone who passed kept saying 'ça y est, on arrive' which wasn't the whole truth because it took me about half an hour to do the last wee bit. The roads in the town were busy with cars so you had to step on and off the pavements the whole time, easy normally but not after 56km!
So anyway, I arrived at the reception hall at 11.50, 15 mins after Kelly, happy to see that nearly everyone else looked as sore as I did. I couldn't face the sausage and potatoes that everyone was eating and made do with some bread. So if you want after photos of the two of us here they are, not so much smiling going on there but we were still in one piece!!!!!!!
We waited on the bus until 1 o'clock, fell fast asleep for the journey (of course, we'd missed a whole night's sleep) then hobbled to Kelly's car to get home. Neil had thankfully run me a bath and I had a bowl of cornflakes before my soak and 2 1/2 hours kip. We ate at a friend's house last night and they killed themselves laughing at me hobbling down their path, not very 'sympa'. Anyway, today I'm better than I thought I'd be, my feet feel fine I'm just a bit stiff and find the stairs painful. Not as painful as phoning Kelly to hear her say that she was thinking of going to swim 40 lengths of the swimming pool and that 'why don't we do it again next year'! Somebody would have to sponsor me and make it worth something for charity to put myself through that again! They say that next year the walk goes in the opposite direction and it's easier.....................I'm not convinced!