Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux 2012 I

We’re still recovering after a great long weekend in Provence so this is a quick visit here.  I’ll follow-up with a few more impressions from Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux in the next few days.  For now a bit of an introduction... 

My latest adventure included my third running and the thirteenth edition of Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux 19 – 20 May 2012.  Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux is a 100KM charity trail race coursing primarily along the paths and trails of the Dentelles de Montmirail and the Mont Ventoux Massif.  The Raid International Organization and the Rotary Clubs of Avignon Fontaine de Vaucluse, Avignon Villeneuve, Carpentras, Orange , Orange Arausio host Le Grand Raid Denvelles Ventoux each year.  All registration costs and any donations benefit The Association Francophone des Glycogénoses and research of Glycogénoses. 

The centerpiece of Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux’s 100KM course is a foot assault up the southern approach of Mont Ventoux.   Mont Ventoux is legendary among bicyclists as it is reputed as one of the most grueling climbs of the Tour de France.  Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux’s 100KM route courses over 5167 meters or 16,952 feet of elevation change largely along rock or talus strewn paths.  The semi-self supported course starts and finishes in the lovely village of Gigondas.

Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux is well organized and supported.  Starting with their simple yet effective web site, the Rotary Club and their supporters put together a great event.  Registration was possible on-line and cost 80 Euro (85 Euro after 30 April); the pasta party cost 10 Euro.  Registration costs included a race starter kit, support at the aid stations/check points, a starter and finisher tee-shirt with the later awarded if you “survive” the race’s twenty-four hours.

Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux includes three events – the primary 100KM course; a Raid Course at 56KM and a relay course of 100KM.  Race headquarters is located in the Gigondas Community Center with final race check-in located in the adjacent fire department building.  Race participant billeting is available in an adjacent youth hostel for an additional limited fee.  Final race check in was possible on 18 May, 1400 – 2200 and on 19 May, 0300 – 0400.  I did my final check in on 18 May at 1800.  When checking in be prepared to provide a French Sport License, some form of identification card or provide a 50 Euro deposit.  This “deposit” is linked to your starter number and assures that runners account for themselves throughout the entire event.  Final check in included verification of registration; distribution of the race starter packet; inspection of required equipment and notes on course changes.  All very straight forward and easy even when conducted in broken French and English.  For the 2012 race I did not stick around for the race briefing (it is conducted only in French) or the Pasta Party.

Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux starts at approximately 0430 on Saturday morning providing runners twenty-four hours to complete the course.  The Rotary Club offers a runners’ breakfast starting at 0330 Saturday morning.  I arrived at about 0345 had a couple of cups of coffee; greeted a couple of friends and checked through the starter chutes at 0400.  Final check-in through the starter chutes was somewhat chaotic.  If you’re running the race just line up adjacent to your series of start numbers and walk through.

Following the absolute final check in via the starter chutes the racers all lined up headed up hill (smile) for the start.  The heavens smiled upon 119 of us and shared a bit of rain from 0415 – 0430.  It was nice to get this out of the way as the rest of the day was to prove absolutely stunning with lots of sunshine.

Details of the event and my experiences will be forthcoming in my next post.

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