Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ronde des Foies Gras 2014

Mauvezin is small commune at the west of Toulouse, in France. It is located in one of the many small hills of the department of Gers. In the village a fortress was built, which apparently was dreaded elsewhere in the surroundings, and that gave the name to the village “Mauvais voisin” (bad neighbour or “mau vesin” in Occitan).

The village counts with about 2,000 inhabitants, who every second Sunday of October organize the race Ronde des Foies Gras. Today, it has been the 3rd time I have run this race. Simply great. It is a moderate (just almost 300m of positive elevation) trail along 25km around the village. It counts with several supply posts and that is what takes this trail apart.

Route of the race as recorded by my Garmin GPS.

Route of the race as recorded by my Garmin GPS.

Even if the race is in October, every year thousands of runners rush to fill in the papers in June in order to book a place in it. Only 2,000 are accepted and get to eat the foie gras made at each of the 7 farms that the race crosses. This year I decided to run dressed up in a costume of a prisoner as there was a gift for those completing the race in disguise. I also decided to take a photo camera with me and take some pictures along the race, so you can get a glimpse of the experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The experience itself was terrific. Lots of fun and delicious foie gras, plus a great meal afterwards. It was however too hot to be running in costume (the gift at the end was a t-shirt, so the next year I’ll leave the costume in the drawer).

See this other video of the music band playing at the 5th farm:

I finished in 2h21′, 5 minutes more than it took last year but taking into consideration the costume and time employed in taking the pictures I am happy with the run (especially the first 12km), as a training for the coming NY marathon.

1 Comment

Filed under Sports

Trail du Cassoulet 2014

Verfeil is a small commune at the North-East of Toulouse. It is difficult to date its origins though Celtics were living there some centuries B.C. It was built at the top of a small hill, with fortified entrances and a castle from the VIII century at the top. Today about 3,000 inhabitants live in Verfeil and they do their best to make the Trail du Cassoulet a great running event.

This year was the first time that I took part in this race, together with other 2,000 participants: 300 of us would run the 32km trail, about 1,400 the 15km trail and the rest walking routes, races for children, etc. The organization was superb.

Every runner got a can of cassoulet. If got to the finish line we received as well an apron (plus a bottle of wine if the runner arrived disguised with a costume). After the trail, we all gathered to enjoy a delicious and energizing bowl of warm cassoulet.

The trail departed at 9am. I took it as a training session for the New York marathon, which I would run 4 weeks later. My training plan indicated that the day of the race I should train 3 hours, 1 of them at marathon pace. Thus a 32km trail would be perfect.

Route of the race as recorded by my Garmin.

Route of the race as recorded by my Garmin.

The trail had just over 500m of elevation gains, spread along many ascensions, none of them very long. In the last ones I had to walk parts of them. The race ran along 2 lakes, crossed small rivers over tree trunks, went through lots of arable fields, some dense forests and the stables of a castle (not in use anymore). I include here some pictures I took during the race:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the it took 3 hours and 21 minutes to complete the trail (my Garmin measured 33.4km instead of the announced 32). I finished the 131st out of the 277 runners who completed the long trail (that is 47% percentile, not bad). As mentioned above, to recover from the trail, Luca and I enjoyed a very tasty cassoulet. And just before that I got to donate my running shoes to a NGO so they can have a “second life” in Morocco; a good destination for a pair of snickers with which I made some 3 personal records, 2 in 10km and 1 in marathon. 🙂

Donating my old running shoes.

Donating my old running shoes.

1 Comment

Filed under Sports

Swiftair MD-83 EC-LTV, BEA interim report

Some weeks ago I read the first interim report from the “Bureau d’EnquĂȘtes et d’Analyses” (BEA) on the accident suffered by the Swiftair MD-83 matriculated EC-LTV on July 24th in Mali (find the report here, PDF 5.2MB). The last 1’30” of that flight must have been scary.

Take a look at the records of altitude, attitude, bank angle:

EC-LTV parametres

MD-83 EC-LTV parameters (2014, Mali).

Probably you are familiar with this other graphic that has appeared in the press:

EC-LTV trajectory worked out by BEA from FDR.

EC-LTV trajectory worked out by BEA from FDR.

Today, at lunch while on a training course, I had the chance to discuss about the accident with the course instructor (a retired former Airbus senior vice president in customer services) who pointed me at a similar accident undergone by a MD-82 HK-4374X in Venezuela in August 2005.

I went to the BEA website to check for the report of that other accident (here, PDF 20MB, in Spanish). While the investigation of the EC-LTV will most probably reach to the conclusions of the root causes of the accident, the are many similarities between the cases:

  • Hot weather conditions (ISA+10 or above, that is temperatures not below -30 degrees at FL31),
  • proximity of thunderstorms,
  • use of anti ice (inducing a penalty measured in about 3,000ft penalty for available engine thrust),
  • autopilot engaged in “Speed on Thrust” mode in “Altitude Hold” (making the aircraft pitch upwards when losing speed due to the lack of available power at FL310 due to hot weather and use of anti ice),
  • engine EPR close to maximum values for both engines (followed by a oscillations when the airplane starts to lose speed),
HK-4374X parametres.

MD-82 HK-4374X parameters (2005, Venezuela).

The report of the 2005 accident included a study from NASA and a presentation by Boeing then chief pilot covering similar incidents and showing a 2002 Boeing Flight Operations Bulletin warning flight crews of this kind of situations.

Boeing Flight Operations Bulletin MD-82-02-02A.

Boeing Flight Operations Bulletin MD-82-02-02A.

I’m looking forward for future reports from the BEA to see what are the findings they reach.

1 Comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence