Autumn Tour 2019 – Run in Reims

To mark the 10th anniversary of our club autumn tour, 22 of us embarked on journeys of varying degrees of difficulty to the French city of Reims. “Just east of Paris”, so we thought, it sounded easy, but a combination of missed ferries and train strikes meant that just reaching the home of Champagne was cause for celebration in itself.

The “Run in Reims” event consisted of a marathon, half marathon and 10k, with Striders represented in all three distances. And, for the first time, we also had a runner in a junior event on tour, with Lucy donning “race” number 1 on her Striders vest for the 1.2km fun run. Well done Lucy! (no need to mention that all the kids wore number 1…)

With travel woes now behind us, and numbers safely collected from the local Champagne house, it was an early start on the Sunday for the pre-race photocall. On a very wet morning, we were very grateful to Sue, who had been shopping and bought enough bin bags to keep everyone dry on the start line!

Read on to learn who earned their post-race Champagne (did I mention Champagne?)…


By Steph

6 Valley Striders chose the marathon distance which took us through the Route Touristique Du Champagne, an undulating (over 1000ft of climbing) run through villages and past champagne houses including through the Tattinger vineyard which was a treat. The run back along the canal not so much of a treat, Myra’s words being “6 miles along a canal tow path in the pouring rain, we may as well have stayed in Leeds.” However you don’t get a glass of champagne at the end of the Leeds canal, or a huge banquet of food (just for the marathoners, not the others). 

The last few rainy Sundays definitely worked out for the best preparation wise as we had a successful marathon with all ladies in the top 22, a second place chip time for Myra, age category win for Sue and a PB for Steph (who ran to mile 24 in a bin bag, yes it was that wet).

All in all a truly enjoyable day with the marathon course definitely being the correct choice of distance.

Richard also provided a brief report:

It rained


NameChip TimeOverall PositionFemale PositionComments
Myra Jones03:10:44622
Ian Sanderson03:35:36250
Sue Sunderland03:42:13309131st V2F
Liz Adams03:45:1535716
Steph Gledhill03:49:0140522PB
Richard Adcock04:01:16605

Half Marathon

By Sean

My pre-race preparation consisted of standing huddled in a doorway, wrapped in a bin bag, watching the rain come down. I consoled myself with the thought “At least I’m not doing the full”! As 8:30 approached, we lined up in front of the impressive Notre Dame cathedral (not that one) alongside the marathon entrants and ditched our makeshift waterproofs. We set off promptly, staying with the marathoners for about 10k before they left us for the hills. Thankfully the half stayed on a more level course.

A race is a great way of seeing a city, and we saw all sides of Reims — historic city centre, residential suburbs and its industrial estates. Despite the rain, there was still reasonable support en route, particularly up the final straight. It was a successful morning for Striders, with a couple of PBs and an age category placing collected along the way, giving a good excuse (if one were needed) to sample that famous local beverage.

NameChip TimeOverall PositionFemale PositionComments
James Tarran01:27:15139
Sean Cook01:32:03297PB
John Hussey01:54:1418783rd V4H
John Wallace02:00:092454
Leila Kara02:03:192698549PB
Anne Jones02:14:523293854
Jean Hussey02:50:2237751134


By Rachel

Whilst the majority of the Valley Striders tour group had opted for the half and marathon distances on Sunday 20 October, both Emma and I were set to run the 10K held that same day. Although the 10K started at a more respectable 11am as – opposed to the 8:30am for the HM and marathon – our 7:45am pre-run team photograph meant we had the chance to wish everyone ‘bonne chance’ before they left for the start line.

In typical British fashion, the race day weather forecast became somewhat of an obsession in the week leading up to race weekend. It didn’t look good. I’m not sure when during the two hours leading up to the 10K, did I notice the deluge outside my hotel window, but I felt a mixture of relief that I only had 6.2 miles ahead, but shear disappointment on behalf of my team mates who were now subject to – what may as well have been – an aquathon. Thankfully, the night before, Sue had distributed a black plastic bin liner to each of use in anticipation for the following day’s drenching. As this was Emma’s first race in the rain it didn’t take her long to realise what all the fuss was about over the bin bags!

Donning my own bin bag, I made my way down to the hotel foyer to where the staff had erected a flip chart stand displaying the three race routes and directions to the correct coloured pen at the start. I wasn’t there long before James came in through the entrance, having finished his half marathon. I half wondered if he has fallen into the Vesle River, but Sean appeared only a few minutes later looking just as cold and saturated.

It only took a few minutes to reach the start from the hotel. Those attempting to warm up in zone ‘rouge’ had silently agreed to follow a one-way system which used the limited space we had to do a few strides and stretches. Upon shuffling to the start line, I gave a little sob as I tied my binbag to the heras fencing, and sent some final positive mental thoughts and ‘good lucks’ to Emma who was hidden away amongst the crowds in zone ‘gris’. Despite the swaths of runners, the magnificent Reims Cathedral was clearly visible to all, towering over the French apartments and shops, framed by the giant inflatable gantry over the start line. The occasional face would appear in an upper-storey window, peering down over the masses.

The race started at exactly 11am. As with most races which experience a high volume of entrants, the race was busy, but arguably this made it easier to be pulled along by other runners. The race was held purely on closed roads, which was pretty good considering it was only €18 to enter. The 10K route comprised mainly the first and last few kilometres of the half and marathon. A few quick sums the night before and it was expected Myra and I would be battling it out with 3 km to go. (I say ‘battling it out’, despite her 20 mile warm-up, I’m not sure I would have been able to hold her off for long.)

The course itself was one, relatively flat lap, but a grand total of 26 90° turns inevitably meant a lot of momentum was lost and it did get a little frustrating after a while. A long drag between 4.5km and 6km did slow everyone down a bit, but soon runners could see the Cathedral again and spurred a few tired legs on. A few roads I vaguely recognised having walked them the previous day to collect our numbers, t-shirts and medals at the race Expo in Domaine Vranken Pommery.

Before long we had joined the half marathon and marathon runners in the latter stages of their race. Some looking remarkably strong! With 100m to go, the 10K and marathon runners split into two separate finishing funnels. Upon looking up from my watch, I spotted Myra in the adjacent funnel and we both headed our respective ways to collect our finishing goodies. In addition to a bottle of water, the 10K-ers were presented with a selection of cereal bars, energy drinks and fruit.

Although neither of us were particularly pleased with the way the race itself had panned out, Emma and I both agreed that it was a lovely memorable weekend – Emma pointing out that not only did we see every angle of the Cathedral during our race, they’ve also put it on the t-shirt and medals, too! – and looking forward to next year’s tour already. Which, I’m hoping, will be a little drier.

NameChip TimeOverall PositionFemale PositionComments
Rachel Bentley00:42:0534613
Emma Wallace01:07:0652981960

The traditional awards ceremony took place that evening, with everyone taking home a souvenir for their efforts, but there could only be one winner of the coveted “Tour Star” award…or could there? The first and last finishers of the weekend, Lucy and Richard, jointly took the honour, and with it, the responsibility of looking after Raoul the Owl until next year’s tour.

It’s not just about the runners though – those who come along to support and for the ‘socialising’ play an important part so thanks to Rick, Ellen, Michael, Mourad, Tim and Carole. And as always we are grateful to our tour organiser – thanks Kathy.

Where to next year? Find out at our Christmas Party.