The Franco-Belgian Barefoot Meeting did happen! Namur Trail 2017, What a Run! By RV. and c17 (Belgium & France) After an unsuccessful pre-meeting with others the day before, I received confirmation of two other barefoot runners for the rocky, up and down slopes of Namur Citadelle Trail. Christian P., from Belgium was gonna run 30 km full barefoot, myself (RV.), a nice but finally hard 15km, full barefoot, and Clément (C17) a 7,5km full barefoot (nice one, Clément started barefoot running few months ago !). Due to different starting times for each distance, we couldn't start as a barefoot group. For the 15km more than 700 participants towed the place on the starting line. As usual, I placed myself at the back in order to avoid any disturbances or scrambling toes from shod ones. After a first slow to start km, a very narrow path for a very packed crowded group of runners initiated a big waiting cue (kinda IKEA cue on a Saturday sales day).... And this was more or less the story of a majority of the trail: narrow forest path. The second theme of the trail was rocks and stones, big, small, medium, hidden, or not stones on those narrow forest paths. The last theme was vertical and sloped. A 551m ascending on 15km, was for me okay. The combination of the tow first themes on that ascending was....not a piece of cake. Never seen so many injured runners on the way and at the end. On strava, my running time was 1h29 (with auto pause when not moving too much), the official time recorded is 2h20. That gives you an idea of the kind of barefoot run it was. As usual, many reactions from other runners, passing them by on ascending terrain usually surprises them. Most of them though, I got no other choice than running barefoot due to shoe problems. At the end Clément and I found each other for a nice chat on barefooting. Clément made quite a long trip to join us and detailed his run and other adventures below. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Here is the Clément (c17) 7,5 Km report: Hello! Here is my report on the "Trail de Namur" (Belgium), on the shortest distance: 7.5km/250m D+. Other distances were 15km/500m D+ and 30km/900m D+. This trail being my first race, I don't have anything to compare it to. Therefore, I'm gonna tell you what I can. One word on the context: The 2nd Barefoot Franco-Belgian Meeting was planned at this event. Six BRS barefooters were expected. We were to meet onSunday the 4th to get the people to know each other, and the race was to take place the following day, Monday the 5th (which was a day off in France and Belgium). Unfortunately, Christian Harberts' (France Chapter President) car broke on Saturday evening, and he couldn't make it to the meeting. Bad luck doesn't stop here. He was supposed to give a lift to Florent85 on the way, so the latter wouldn't come either. First of all, the trip (about 250kms) started well, but the end was kind of complicated. To make it short, halfway between the Belgian border and Namur, our (my wife and I) smartphones ran out of network, despite our phone operator's messages saying that from now on we could use our phones everywhere in Europe. My mistake, I didn't know about the "roaming" setting (thanks to RV., I turned it on afterwards), but as a result, we had no more GPS and no map. Great! So at the time I was supposed to meet the other barefooters, I was in Namur, 40kms away. Well, since I'm here, let's see the positive side: I'm going to register for the race. The welcome is nice. I receive a "Trobon" (which means "toogood") cereal bar, a "lasagna ticket" for the next day, and, of course, my bib! There are a lot of tables, pencils. Even if there were a lot of people, you wouldn't queue. Let's skip the search for the hotel, without GPS in a seemingly deserted town. I was kind of pissed. (Again, it was my fault). Sunday, race day. The three races start at different times: 9h for the 30km, 10h30 for the 15km and 11h15 for the 7.5km. In the end, there was only one barefooter per race, so we didn't meet with the others before the race. There were about 400 runners taking part in the 7.5km trail. I'm kind of impressed by all these people. I shyly remove my sandals five minutes before the beginning of the race. Otherwise, the weather is nice, good. I almost forgot, there is a huge and free parking lot five minutes away from the starting line, so no problem to park your car. The start is given, and I let a lot of people go first. I know that people in the front will run like hell from the beginning. I'm slow (and a beginner), so I don't want to be an annoyance, and I have no need to have my feet trampled either! It starts slowly, the pack stretches, and we begin to run. At first we're on a standard road. It's rather easy. I overtake some runners. I know that sooner or later, I'll meet more difficult surfaces and that I'll have to slow down. I don't have to wait for long: suddenly the roads turn into a rocky track. It's spiky, the road goes down, but it's still okay. Then we arrive in the woods. As RV. previously said, it's a very narrow path which will only allow one person at a time, with no possibility of overtaking. As 400+ people have to go, a huge bottleneck appears, and it won't be the last. Otherwise, this narrow forest path is very nice, the kind of trail I really enjoy to run on... when I'm alone! From the beginning, we're going downhill, and I start to wonder about the forthcoming uphill. Sounds fun, and it was! From then, I'm afraid I don't recall what happened in what order, but there were narrow and wide paths, sometimes rocky, standard roads, big uphill slopes, sometimes with rocks and mud, a very big and very slippy downhill towards the end just before the last uphill, and overall, lots of rocks. At km 4, a water station. For a 7.5km race, I thought it would be useless, but I have to admit that I was happy to be able to drink a glass of water at this point. The day wasn't very hot, but going uphill and downhill, I sweat a lot. I also noticed that when you're stuck behind people walking uphill, so that you have to walk too, it's rather hard to start running again later even if the will is there. There was also a race within the race: the last uphill was timed. Of course, it was rather steep! I didn't see the results of this inner race, but I think it was a fun idea. After that last slope, you're about 500 meters from the finish line. At this point you have to run on the sidewalk, which is made of grass... except at the crossing of a gravel road, whereas just behind the fence the pavement looks much less spiky! And it's the arrival. My time is very bad: 1h10. There were a few bottlenecks on the way, that didn't help. Anyway, due to the rocks and the slopes, I don't know if I would have done much better with a clear way ahead. Crossing the finish line! (Check how the guy on the right stares at my feet!) I ended up 334 out of 418. As far as I'm concerned, mission complete: I ran, I finished the race, I didn't hurt myself, and I didn't finish at the last position. And it might even be possible to do a better time next time! Overall, I'm very happy about this experience. I had a lot of cheering up along the way, a few questions too, but nothing negative, as it sometimes happens when I run in my city. As a bonus, the region is beautiful. The distance was okay for me too. I'm not used to going uphill/downhill this much, and I don't think I would have been able to complete the 15km (not to mention the 30). Honestly, I found the race hard, and the maximum for me at my current beginner level. I also discovered that the heart rate monitor makes me nervous. I'm used to checking it very often, and at some point, it went too high to my liking, so I slowed down. As one of my coworkers pointed out, it's maybe not a good idea to check the heart rate too much during a race! The event was, in my opinion, very well organized. There was a huge electronic board at the arrival to check the results, food too: cake, Liege's pancakes, peanuts, crisps, water, the aforementioned lasagnas, doctors and physiotherapists, just in case, and even an inflatable castle for kids. For the non-free part, there was a bar where you could get a beer and an ice cream truck. During the race, mountain bikers escorted us, stopping the traffic on the rare occasions when we had to cross a road. There were signs and people along the track to show us the way, so no mistake was possible. I feel sorry for Hervé (RV.), who had filled his fridge to feed us with local delicacies and who quite obviously loves his city and wanted to show it to us. Unfortunately, Sunday's meeting didn't take place. Let's hope that bad luck stays away next year and that many barefooters will be present! ................ Dear All, To conclude, many of you couldn’t be there due to technical car problems. Never mind. I’m sure that next year we’ll be a more respectful group from the Barefoot Runners Society on our French and Belgium trail meeting day. See you soon, and have fun run. RV.