But if you look closely my podium is quite empty, the reason being I was the only wheelchair entered in the First Annual Aix Les Bains 10km du Lac. Also, I happened to be the only foreigner in the entire race.
Benjamin Cheruiyot is a Kenyan exile, ex-Auburn Tiger, running for the track club in Aix.(Dauphiné Libéré)
Soon after Cheruiyot blew by me, a familiar feeling I’d repressed decades ago came back. Everybody started passing me. First it was young men, next it was the ladies. A couple of teen agers dusted me, then a pack of gray-haired studs… then a couple of gray-haired not-so-studs. By the time I’d hit the turnaround point I’d settled into a group of nine-minute milers – whom should not be mistaken for a group of nine-minute marathon milers. These people were gasping just to finish the 10k.
If I paid for the pic do I have to credit it?? (OK - Gerald Vagneron Photo)
The turnaround was a bit tough as the course became slightly hilly and broke down into a couple sections of gravel and smooth cobblestone. But once back on the main course, a smooth and wide pedestrian path along the stunningly beautiful Lac du Bourget, I became inspired and started picking off runners. First it was the chubby guy who got me on the gravel. Then it was the granny who took me on the bridge at 6k. Eventually I caught up with the hipster who looked like he was jonesing for a smoke.
Has that guy in the chair finished yet?
I really wanted to hit the beer tent, but instead I sat in front of the stage for an hour while they presented fairly lavish gifts and trophies for the winners of nearly 20 categories. All the meanwhile behind me they are scrambling to find something to present to me.
Aix's Homecoming King and Queen - Euro 100m champ Christophe Lemaitre w/Miss Aix Les Bains.
Herzo Track Club!
After the Herzo race the organizers embarrassingly scrambled around to find something to give to the handicapped winner. They found a Herzo Track Club bathroom cup which I still proudly display. So it was no surprise for me to see the same faces scrambling around on Sunday to come up with something which ended up being a T-shirt that was too small, a key chain and a water bottle – which I will use!
So I will leave you this lasting image of the world’s greatest and worst white runners: