I had my first Disqualification (DQ) for a running race in Trail au Claire de Lune (translated as Moonlight Trail). Trail au Claire de Lune was a short trail running race of 11km in Bures sur Yvettes, a neighbouring commune. It was the first edition. I reckon it’s one of the events organised to promote Ile de France’s first Station de Trail, inaugurated in March 2015. Even the mayor of the commune participated in the race.
When it comes to organisation of trail running races, I would never say that French are shoddy in their organisation of races. Trail au Claire de Lune was only a short race with less than 200 participants. However, no expenses were spared. Snacks (nuts, fruits, sausages etc) and drinks (juices, water, coca cola etc) were provided before and after the race. Rousing music was played pre-race to energise the crowd and a host was engaged to present the race.
Trail au Claire de Lune started at 9.30pm. It was a simple race involving 3 small hills, with a total elevation gained of 220m/D+. The race started from the entrance of one of the university buildings (campus of Université Paris-Sud). Runners ran through a residential area before reaching Bassin de Gif Bures. Then, they were made to do an almost complete loop of the bassin, before turning towards the forest.
For most part, the organiser did a pretty good job on the trails. There were clear markings on the trees in various places. They also did a rather cool trick of painting the stones or steps on the trail to make them reflective. There was even a checkpoint at the mid-point serving drinks!
Since it was a short race, Silviu and I did not bother to do a recce (who does a recce for a 10+km race…). Moreover, we had covered most of the sections of the route in our various training runs. In retrospective, I should have recced the race route. However, my experience shows that reconnaissance does not necessary mean that I would know my way around.
Even though there were marshals at various junctions, there were still some junctions where their presence would have saved my race!
In the forest, right after the descent of the first hill, there was a junction which I should have taken a left that would take me to 2nd hill. Instead, I blindly followed the few runners in front of me and took a right turn. The turn resulted in me cutting the first half of 2nd hill, missing the race by 0.8km/20mD+.
So, after almost bursting my lungs in reaching the finishing line, I did not see Silviu. Thinking that he may be recovering our drop bags, I went in search for him. Not finding him, I went back to the finish line thinking that we might have miss each other when I arrived.
It was on my return to the finishing line that I saw Silviu. He was shocked in seeing me arriving at the finishing line earlier than him. I was behind him in the race right from the start, and never had a chance to overtake him. A quick check of the distance I covered on my watch, and a confirmation of the route I took (Strava) confirmed that I missed about 0.8km.
I was upset, real upset with myself. It was my first time being DisQualified. Even though I took the short cut unintentionally, I felt guilty as if I had cheated in a test. I would have felt much better if I had been stopped and disqualified by marshals during the race, rather than crossing the finishing line and finding myself disqualified.
Photo: Before this race, the only timing chips we came across were either bracelet or bib chips. When we were given the circular white plastic tag, we scratched our heads, trying to figure out what to do with the tag. Too embarrassed to ask anyone for assistance, we spent a few minutes secretly perusing what other runners did with the tag, before we finally figured it out.