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.
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:
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. 🙂