Grand Duc

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The last Sunday in June I was part of a relay team that ran an Ultra Trail race called the Grand Duc. Well, actually we had two teams of 5 between our little english-language church and a French church that we partner with.  Having two teams made the run even better, as we could then have someone to run with during each leg.

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me catching up with Rob about 1/2 way through our leg

We ran as teams of 5, meaning we each had between 12-20km and between 600-1300m of elevation gain to cover.  You could also run it as a team of two, or for those who are more machine than man, do the full 80k solo.

pretty sure from the look on my face I’m saying something sarcastic to Rob – as this was pretty much the only time that I was actually in front of him.
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The 5 guys from our church who ran

It had poured rain the day before so it was MUDDY. And slippery.  The leg we ran had a pretty consistently steep 900m descent over about  5km coming into the village where we tagged off, and we –  and everyone around us – were falling, slipping, sliding along the muddy trails all the way down.

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I may have slipped in something ‘mud-like’ in the pasture we ran through in the last 500m or so. I was told I did not smell so good.

 

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Doug & Matt pointing to the summit of Chamchaude, which they had to run over on their leg
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I don’t know how- but it appears that at the very end of their leg Matt is cracking jokes as they come in to the relay point
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Johan and Henri approaching the finish line
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Here is a map – the blue line at the bottom shows the 5,000m of elevation change
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Our picnic near the start/finish in St Pierre de Chartreuse

Since wives & kids of 5 families were coming up, a few others joined and we ended up with a nice big communal picnic. The weather was outstanding and the views are truly outstanding.

 

The following video is pretty long, it seems like someone put on their head-cam for the whole 80km. However, if you want to see the leg that Rob and I ran, it’s on this video from 7:30 to 12:00

 

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I think this was during our second climb
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I pulled my phone out of my backpack and took this as I was running. Despite what it looks like – it does not do justice to the magnificently beauty of where we were running.

Cairo

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On my way home from Ethiopia I had a 24hr layover in Cairo.  Considering the recent spats of unrest that Egypt has had, tourism is WAY down. However, this means that places are not crowded, and there are many well qualified guides who normally are running group tours, that are available to hire for the day for about the same price.
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I had a fantastic day with a guide who had a truly mind-blowing knowledge of what seemed like the entirety of Egyptian history. Considering they have thousands of years of recorded history, that’s pretty impressive

Crossing the Nile on the way to the Pyramids

I landed at about 7, having left Addis Ababa about 4.00 – and hit the ground running. First stop, the Great Pyramids of Giza.

Heading down into the burial chamber of one of the Queen’s pyramids

…and climbing back up to the surface

 

Also I was pretty fortunate on the weather, it was only 32° and full-on sun the day I was there, the forecast was for much warmer the rest of the week.

 

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This is supposedly where Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus when their lives were threatened by Herod.

this fellow seems to have a minor mechanical issue

 

 

 

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The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

The Egyptian Museum is an absolute wonder.  Considering that the country has one of the richest and best documented histories from ancient times, they have a lot to show. Apparently the 60,000 items shown are only a fraction of what they possess.

The most well known of course, is the complete collection of the treasure found in the burial chamber of King Tutankhamun – and the most famous piece within that is the iconic 11kg solid gold death mask.

image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/civellod/
image by Daniel Civello http://www.flickr.com/photos/civellod/

Right next door to the museum was a huge torched building. My guide told me that during Mubarak’s reign the building was officially known as the “Bureau for Advancement of Women’s Rights” or some such thing. He said though, in reality it held an incredible amount of documentation on activities of Mubarak and his gang, and since they didn’t want incriminating papers getting out, he commanded the army to torch the place during the uprising. Being right next to one of the most valuable collections of antiquities in the world, apparently the ‘rebels’ and ordinary citizens fought off the fire to ensure that the priceless and irreplaceable pieces contained inside were not lost.

It was quite the whirlwind tour, but I was getting very anxious to get home to my family, so I said farewell to the hot desert of Egypt, and went back to my hotel to catch an early morning flight to Geneva the next day.