For a change Jérôme is not going to talk about the latest bridge event he took part in but he is going to share his latest sporting achievement. Find out more about the second part of our champion’s ‘Corsica Raid Aventure’ diary and read about his experience punctuated by emotions, encounters, risks and dangers…
Click here if you have missed the first part.
5 JUNE 2019: Harsh day at ‘CORSICA RAID AVENTURE’
We were exhausted after the fourth stage. I had severely twisted one ankle, the other one just slightly, and my cousin Etienne’s meniscus pain dating back to the preparation phase was back.
So we decided to skip the first event taking place on Wednesday morning, i.e. a 10K trail run.
It seemed easy. Departure at an altitude of 820 metres and arrival at 120 metres. Only 10K. Except that the organisers had told us not to expect the first runners soon and indeed, it took them more than 2 hours!
The advantage of the ‘Corsica Raid Aventure’ is that you can choose not to take part in certain events (on purpose or due to cut off times) and try to make up for it by doing well later. If you fail, you get the time achieved by the last competitor increased by 50%. (If it takes him/her 3 hours, your time is then 4 hours and 30 minutes.)
We thus started the next event with the top competitors. That was my favourite one: we went down a river over a distance of 3K as quickly as possible. Repeated runs, jumps from one stone to another, swimming, plunges… As usual, surrounded by outstanding landscapes and in the sun. Awesome!
Then we continued with a long kayaking event (16K) followed by coasteering over 5K (along the coast, climbing cliffs and rocks, with our feet in the water…). Finally, once on the beach, we had to swim another 2K in the sea.
In addition to physical difficulties are feeding and logistical issues. Once we were done with an activity, we had to get changed, eat, transfer our survival bags (including a portable stove, a cigarette lighter, a hat, polar fleece jackets, windproof trousers that we were obliged to have with us all the time) and get ready for the next event.
Before carrying on with swimming, I decided not to take my phone with me. So I didn’t put it in its watertight case and I forgot to remove it from my backpack. I even forgot to attach my bag to my belt and I had to turn back after a few metres while Etienne was shouting himself hoarse.
Here my partner was my other cousin Laurent who is very good at swimming in sea water. He had already taken part in 7K swimming races with his wife Eve.
Yet, after a few hundred metres, I seemed to hear him calling me but when I looked around, I could only see focused swimmers. I could hear him again. That’s when I turned round and saw him on the surface. He had stopped swimming. I turned back. He explained he was not feeling well and was feeling breathless. I knew my cousin had asthma and since I already felt that way for my first triathlons, I unzipped his swimsuit and we waited a few minutes until he recovered.
I attached his backpack and him to my belt! I was then swimming with two backpacks and my cousin!
We finally reached the first buoy near a rock and my cousin sat there for a while. He was not feeling better. He found it difficult to breathe. He took his swimsuit off and rested for several minutes again. The organisers’ kayak was around, checking we were okay:
‘Are you all right?
– Yes, yes, it’s under control.’
My cousin started putting his clothes back on and I told him not to wear the top of his swimsuit as the water was warm (20 Celsius degrees).
At last, they asked us if we wanted to call the doctor. ‘No, no, we’re fine’. But they managed to convince us, the boat was nearby.
We got on board. Laurent said ‘Don’t worry, I’m okay’. But Anne from the organising team started listening to his chest and suddenly shouted ‘Oxygen’!(They brought the oxygen bottle and a mask to help him breathe). My cousin was still telling me that he was feeling okay. She looked at his ears and shouted ‘Drip’! It was impressive.
When we reached the arrival, Laurent was immediately monitored and ‘pampered’ by the very professional doctors of the organising team.
He kept on repeating that everything was fine but he was transferred to Ajaccio hospital in a helicopter anyway.
Diagnosis: immersion pulmonary oedema. Hopefully, if treated in time, it’s not dangerous. It’s a good thing we stopped and sought assistance.
That’s when I realised I had lost my phone during the swimming race, so I went back to the site. Unfortunately, it was not in the departure area and after 45 minutes searching, I resolved to give up. I suddenly spotted it 4-5 metres below the surface. It had stayed there for more than 2 hours, it didn’t work anymore!
It also explains why it took me a bit longer to write about our adventure!
In spite of the tiredness (like all other participants) and the little scratches, we decided to head for the last stage as my cousin was feeling better. He will be with us for the last day and the final arrival…
6 JUNE 2019: A busy last day
This was our last day. We started with canyoning. Jumps, abseiling through cliffs and waterfalls… Everything looked splendid. However, once down the river, we had to scale a cliff!
Then mountain climbing to get to Piana followed by downhill mountain biking on the hills of Piana.It was technical but with idyllic landscapes in the background. We started feeling at ease on our bikes so we savoured the moment (as the saying goes, practice makes perfect). I fell only once but I was at full speed (a rut in a bend that I quickly forgot to focus on what was coming next).
Once done with mountain biking, we met Stéphane who admitted he had seen a pizzeria on the beach and he was dreaming of a proper meal! Kayaking events were cancelled because the sea was too rough. They were replaced by 3 coasteering events. If we skipped the first two, we could have that meal but it was the last day. It was not yet time to stop!
We decided to participate in the second and third events. But when we arrived at the departure site of the second one, we were told that the first two were linked. It was a blessing in disguise! Two hours to rest. It allowed us to welcome my parents as well as Laurent, who was back on form, and most importantly, Stéphane had his pizza!
It was already the last stage. Pumped-up after this break, we decided to give our all with the energy we had left. Etienne and I laughed as we were running on rocks because it’s exactly what we tell our children not to do!
I also remember that we encountered two difficulties: we first chose the sea option with swimming and then we tried to find our way through the maquis. Bad choice. We turned back after 5 minutes. Our legs were covered in blood due to brambles. We did some climbing instead.
We didn’t do too badly: ranked 8th. What you keep in mind is not your position but the sheer joy of pursuing your dream, doing your all, falling into each other’s arms on the finishing line and going swimming in the sea! We did it! The ‘Corsica Raid Aventure’ was over…
We have great memories: a great deal of solidarity, many encounters, smiles, mutual assistance, very professional organisers. I won’t forget the team from Arras (phenomenal efforts and very kind), the team made up of expatriates (our neighbours at the campsite) and the yellow team that we have (rarely) been able to follow…
After two weeks, you don’t even remember how difficult it has been but you think of all the moments of joy in action and magnificent landscapes. And you start considering registering again in 2020…
You can also see more pictures and videos of Jérôme’s adventure on our Facebook page. Click here.