Anne-Claire, a 3rd year student in CEERRF, is practicing cross-country at Elite level. She runs her studies, training and competition, all at the same time… She shares with us her day to day before and during the French Championship 2018.

2 days left. Arrival in Vannes around 19:30, after taking the train from Paris. The nearby sea, the hotel, the evening restaurant … We almost forget that we are here for the final battle, that at the end of the weekend the cross-country season will be over. ALMOST.

1 day left. It is necessary to go get the bibs and especially, to mark the ground. The weather is nice, not cold at all, there is mud but not too much. The terrain is not a racetrack, unlike usual, there are very few flat parts and a lot of places where I could have fun, go beyond my limits. 9km aren’t that long after all, it should be fine!

3 hours left. Departure from the hotel for the “Elite ladies” team. It is not cold but it rains, and we’re already afraid of ground conditions. 1 hour drive left and we will be there. All. The tension is rising, but we’re used to it.

2 hours left. Arrival in Plouay. It does not rain anymore, but it’s over, the field is nothing more than a huge mud field. Not this liquid mud splashing when we jump in, but this really sticky mud, which sucks the shoes and grabs your ankles with each stride. Farewell take off from a pretty green lawn, goodbye nice boosts. The 9km seem to lengthen a little.

1 hour left. Start of the warm up. We see other girls running, those of previous races. They suffer in the mud, some cry. It will be hard, the 9km will be worth 9 more. And then comes the moment to empty your head, to run without thinking of anything else than what will happen. The coach who gives his last advice. Scale and get ready.

15 minutes left. Change of shoes. I chose 15mm spikes, the highest, there is a short passage on a hard ground but I prefer to have a little pain than slip in the mud. Photo of departure, we don’t really care but we can’t think of refusing, for a single second. The others are here, all around, Sophie Duarte, Cassandre Beaugrand, the Kenyans. We feel the tension all around us, nobody is here to play games.

5 minutes left. That’s it, we can go into the box. Beside, it’s the scramble, and we are very happy to know the hierarchy in our team. Léa and Mélanie in front, then Mathilde and me because we have a quick start, and Orbélinda and Anne Laure because they accelerate progressively. It’s starting to rain … It’s better that way.

2 minutes left. The jingle is launched, as well as the countdown. The rain falls stronger and stronger, it is cold. All the umbrellas open all around, but the only thing to see is the brown expanse in front of us. This departure in descent. It will be necessary to put everything in the first impulse, to set off to conquer this ground which will try to be stronger than us, and to run, to fly towards the arrival.

1 minute left. Everything is gradually fading away. The 9km worth 18 are no longer important, rain is no longer important. We are no longer afraid. The countdown is still running.

1 second left. Let’s go. All the girls are tense at the same time, the teams are moving forward as one. The earth is ours, we know the mud that we will face and we are no longer afraid. You have to fly to the finish. No matter how, it’s the only thing that matters.

She finished this competition in 46’12 ”. Congratulations for this race which shows the determination and commitment that she puts in her sport as well as in her studies.