Last weekend, I went to Annecy to run the HM. What a gorgeous place! Fell totally in love. The race was a mixed bag, mainly due to the hot temperatures and the late start time. The HM starts at 2.30pm by which point it was 26 degrees, which is way too hot. So I changed my goals totally and set a new goal of not ending up in the medic tent. The HM course is beautiful. The course snakes down the west shore of the lake. It’s utterly gorgeous. You run mainly on a paved bike path – it’s a little narrow in places but it’s spectacularly beautiful. It’s a flat course with very few inclines – in cool weather, it would be a PR magnet. But I was out to be wise. And I WAS flipping wise. I stopped at every single water station. I took two cups of water, drank some, tipped the rest over my head and my body. I ran through every hose-pipe that every local kindly had running for us. I got some sponges and stuffed them down my sports bra. I ran in the shade at every opportunity. I made total peace with the fact that this would be my slowest HM. Thank you to #werunannecy for the free photos! The people dropped like flies around me. A girl was collapsed in the shade of a bush in Mile 2, a medic attending her. And every single mile brought more runners collapsed at the side of the course with medics. Three ambulances carried people off in stretchers as I passed. I heard two more sirens as they whizzed people to hospital. Some runners were unconscious as I passed. (They had medics with them). It was a little scary and very sobering. The organisers did an excellent job with the aid stations. They were at least every 1.5 miles. There was plenty of water (that I saw – see below) and the volunteers were kind, patient and generous. I finished slowly but feeling healthy. After the finish line, I found water and a tiny patch of shade immediately and spent a good 20 minutes cooling down. A lady next to me started having some kind of attack – I’m assuming heat stroke – so I staggered over to the medic tent and yelled dramatically that we needed a doctor. Medics came swiftly over and I left them to it. My final time was 2.17. I think this was my second slowest HM ever but I honestly have absolutely no negative feelings about this. None. Nothing but pride. It was a day to run slowly and wisely and I did just that. I didn’t end up in the Medic tent. I ran a steady 13 mile training run and am ready and excited to race this coming weekend. A few points on the race: Race organisation got absolutely roasted on FB afterwards. This was primarily for the lack of shade and water at the end of the race, but also several runners mentioned a lack of water at the aid stations on the course. I never observed this and can’t imagine how scary it would be to be on the course with no water. I got both water and shade at the end of the race, but there was precious little shade! The other thing they got taken down for was the medal. It was was dreadful. DREADFUL. Bought in packs of 100s off the internet. No personalisation. Cheap and nasty. FB comments from French runners made me snigger…words like ‘minable‘, ‘un vrai scandale‘, ‘not worthy of a children’s race’, ‘worthy of a village fair’, ‘a disgrace’. People were SCATHING about it. Then, on Tuesday, race organisers put an apology on FB – they’d been let down by their supplier and wanted to give runners something at the end. Apparently medals will be mailed out to runners when they arrive. I look forward to getting mine. I think if they’d told runners this beforehand everyone would have been fine about it. They also got strongly criticised for: The race t-shirt, which was cute, but women’s ran out early Saturday pm. Sizing is definitely more continental than Californian. There were very few aid stations with food – raisins, oranges etc. No gels. I only got electrolytes at the final aid station. Electrolytes and salted food would have been really good. Several runners failed to get adequate water at the end of the race. I got some (and some OJ which tasted like heaven) but there was NO food. Runners got goody bags with a cereal bar in it, but no-one handed me a bag and I was too knackered to hunt it out. On the other hand, runners had nothing but good to say about: The volunteers, who were wonderful, as were the locals who went out their way to keep us cool. One family delightedly drenched runners with their super-soakers as we death-marched past. The Medical team who were plentiful, busy and fantastic. The course which was beauty incarnate. I don’t know if I’d run this again. I’m really glad I did and the course was GORGEOUS but the 2.30pm start time is awful on a hot day. If this race had happened at 8am (or 10am) it would have been a very different experience.