Day 281 – EU – France [La-Neuville-Du-Bosc to Rouen]

10th January 2021
Run: 42.5km

A fantastic day on the road, all the way to my hometown, greeted by the City, friends, family and supporters as well as Serge Girard!

What a day… I set out from La-Neuville-Du-Bosc at dawn slightly earlier than usual.Today was going to be a special day and I was positively nervous about it. I was heading to Rouen, my hometown, which I left 22 years ago to live abroad and never returned to. I was going to have some athletes running by my side to the Town Hall, where the municipal team would welcome me.

I ran slightly faster than usual and was at the meeting point (12km away from Rouen) 45mn earlier than planned! Thankfully a local TV crew had caught up with me and we spent some time filming some running segments and Q&A in the forest. I ran with a supporter (Yveline) all the way to the Expo Park of Rouen.

That’s where I met with Serge Girard! Serge is not only one of the 6 people who have run around the world, he is also the fastest. He has accomplished numerous feats of endurance, having crossed all continents running from side-to-side, Paris-Tokyo and the round of Europe. He has been a pioneer in showing what was feasible in terms of running and also set incredible records along the way. It was quite incredible to meet him today, Serge is exceptionally humble and I was very honoured to run by his side.

Other exceptional athletes awaited me along the way. Alexis Hanquinqaunt, a para-triathlete who is world champion, european champion and on his way to the Tokyo Olympics. What a treat to meet him, run with him and get to exchange a few words. I was also met by Alexandre Fuzeau, aka Dr Ice, another Normandy athlete who is the world record holder of under-ice swimming! What a fabulous team of champions and over-achieving athletes 🙂

Another surprise awaited me! As a teenager I played a lot of baseball and softball. The club of Rouen (Huskies) was a pioneer in France and has also been National champion 15 times over the past 16 years. Today 8 Huskies joined me all the way to the finish and it was a real trip down memory lane. We spent so much time training together, playing games and tournaments. What a fantastic surprise to see them all again.

My sister Florence still lives in Rouen with her family and is actively involved in the local community. She had passed the message of my venue to the municipal team. I owe to her, Sarah Vauzelle and the municipal team the presence of athletes and citizens alike who came to welcome me today. They relayed my arrival live on the City’s Facebook page, with the Sports team commenting and giving details about my journey.

I was also quite surprised that the Mayor of Rouen, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, was there to greet me in person. I also had the pleasure to be met by friends, from school, high school and university. In general I have been completely overwhelmed by the amount of support I received today, the show of appreciation and the extraordinary athletes who came to run and chat with me.

I thank again everyone from the bottom of my heart, who has contributed to make today such a special day. I rarely get to see and appreciate if my journey resonates with anyone, but today it felt like there were many people who were simply happy to show me their support and it felt really good and encouraging. Thank you… and I hope to see them all again in 2 years, when I finish my journey!

Check my daily run GPS data on Garmin or Strava (icons top right of your screen) – here is the map of today’s run: