How the heck did we get to August already? Where, oh WHERE, has the summer gone?? You’d think that with the days having more daylight and being longer, that they would feel longer but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
In the last post I was looking forward to running at Le Mans and at Spa-Francorchamps and (sadly) I (only) managed one of these…
It is pretty impossible to describe how awesome our weekend at Le Mans 24h was – there are simply no words. The weather was absolutely fantastic with temperatures hovering at around 35C pretty much throughout. Alcohol and food bought inside were ridiculously expensive but it’s easy to get around this with BYO. We got there on Thursday (race was from 3pm Saturday to 3pm Sunday) and managed to catch some racing during the day as well as the night practice for the 24h race. Friday is a day off from racing and it’s is commonly known as Crazy Friday with all sorts of shenanigans taking place around the track, in Arnage as well as in the town of Le Mans (imagine thousands and thousands of drunken men off the leash for the weekend and you can just about imagine what it is like).
Our Friday got off to a very different start though. Bright eyed and bushy tailed we got to the Team Langoustine campsite at just after 8am, ready for the fabled run around the track. The run is semi-organised and not advertised at all. I found out about it on PistonHeads forum as it seems did most of the others who took part. A bit of banter with the boys (as usual, I was the only girl) and at around 8.30am, started off by a fire cracker, off we went.
We got to the track at around Tertre Rouge, which is the start of the famous Mulsanne Straight. Pretty soon the runners started falling into groups; lead by 4 front runners followed by myself and The Boy right at their heels. We had agreed to just take it easy and not push it. As it had been sooo hot we were slightly worried that it might be unbearable but to our surprise it was pleasantly cool. The running felt good so I was keen to keep up with the “leaders” but didn’t want to join them in case the pace got too much. The Boy; resigned, reluctant but able, joined me. As Mulsanne Straight is part of an actual, “live” road that just gets closed down for the race, we were basically running in traffic – my element. I had the biggest grin on my face for pretty much the whole run, I had to keep pinching myself – “I am running Circuit de la Sarthe”! There weren’t that many people out and about yet (late one the night before), only the occasional cyclist as well as obviously the passing traffic. At Mulsanne people were already starting to gather with their Ford’s for the informal car show (some looooovely Mustangs!). After this point the road was also closed for traffic so we had the road to ourselves; running among the thick forests in the cool shade was fabulous. From Mulsanne we headed towards Indianapolis and eventually the Porche Curves. To get to the Porsche Curves we had to climb over some fencing as officially we weren’t allowed to this part of the track but the Marshals didn’t seem to mind; instead they were cheering us on! (Some of the runners who had a slightly slower pace and were lagging behind had apparently been stopped so we must have just carried an air of confidence about our right to be there). Taking on a bit of curb we headed to the paddock straight and ran past the cheering crowds up in the Grandstand. Or maybe that bit was just in my imagination, not sure…. Up the hill to Dunlop Bridge and back down to Tertre Rouge and finally to the TL campsite. I was very pleased to find I was easily able to keep up with the “elite” group, even having to occasionally slow down to keep back from them.
The wonderful, wonderful people of Team Langoustine campsite bought us a beer after (I know, I know.. .It was only about 9.30am but hey ho!) and invited us to hang out with them during the weekend- an invitation we gratefully accepted and made a lot of use of. If you are looking for a campsite for Le Mans then I warmly recommend Team Langoustine; you can also buy your tickets via them.
It is impossible to explain how emotional it is to run where these amazing cars had run just the night before, and would be running again next day in the biggest race in their yearly race calendar. We were running where it all goes down, where people have won, lost, crashed and some (a lot) have even lost their lives to take part in this sport.
If you go to Le Mans 24h – you HAVE TO run the track. I promise you will be glad you did. (Oh and ladies – it is worth going even just for the fact that you will not once have to queue for the toilets while the men’s loos have a wait of about 30mins. Justice.)
After Le Mans we drove back to UK as we had to tow the Mustang to Spa-Francorchamps a few days later. This time we were racing rather than just spectating. From the motorsport point of view the weekend was absolutely amazing – both cars did well and for a change there were no technical issues. The team were on and off the podium throughout the weekend! However it was so busy from early until late that I didn’t have time to run at all! On the Friday night a lot of people did head out on the track on their bikes and for a run but I had absolutely been told it would not be possible to do this so I didn’t have my running kit! I was distraught! A mistake that will never happen again – I will 100% have my kit with me at the track when we go back in September.
Spa-Francorchamps is my favourite track and having previously ran around it, I am very keen to take on the actual track. Watch this space…