Beating the heat for animal rights

The Sedan-Charleville is the oldest town-to-town road race in France. To celebrate the 90th event on Sunday, Christelle – a tireless campaigner for the Association Végétarienne de France (AVF – the French vegetarian organisation) – had assembled a group of runners supporting animal rights.

The idea was for participants to wear a t-shirt from the charity of their choice: veg*an groups or animal welfare or protection organisations. I’d decided to wear my black Vegan Society t-shirt with the slogan "Vegans go all the way" and a French version pinned to my back (the saucy subtext is untranslatable, but it still sounded very fitting for a race).

Knowing that finding vegan food at motorway service stations and hotels here was highly unlikely, I started preparing for the trip on Friday, making sure I’d have enough food to last the weekend. Here’s what I took:

For my evening meal on Saturday, bulgur and vegetables with a kochu chang sauce.
For dessert, the dish we now call "Virginie’s rice pudding". The recipe is on her blog. I halved the amount of sugar, left out the calvados and used grated apple instead of pear (we have loads of apples at the moment).
Salade avocat
I made this cucumber and avocado salad to set me up for the five-hour drive ahead. Rather than have bread on the side, it seemed simpler to chop some into the salad.
Just in case I got peckish: some fruit and a packet of oatcakes.
Most important of all, a sustaining breakfast/brunch for Sunday. I mixed oat flakes, banana and a little plant milk to make a pancake baked in the oven.
As I usually don’t run further than the half-marathon distance of 21.1 kilometres, the 24.3 kilometres from Sedan to Charleville were something of a challenge, as was the undulating route along the valley of the River Meuse (in northern France, near the Belgian border). But the biggest challenge came from the weather: a sunny 25°C makes for a lovely October afternoon, as long as you’re not racing in it… Christelle, Kate and I weren’t alone in realising right at the start that this was going to be a tough one. But we knew it was in a good cause – in fact several good causes.
Christelle, who’s leading our little group in the photo, sported the AVF logo on her shorts and top, and the message "Saying out loud what animals suffer in silence" on her back. Kate, left, was wearing an anti-bullfight t-shirt (and horns on her head to underline the point). And that’s me on the right.

Kate crossed the finish line in 2 hours 40, followed a few minutes later by Christelle and then me. In view of the heat, we were all pleased to have finished in under three hours.
There may have been only three of us, but the interest we got from spectators showed that many people are sensitive to the suffering of animals, even if they still eat them… And as Christelle commented: "It’s good to be in at the start of something." Walkers and cyclists are also allowed to take part in the race, the support along the way is fantastic, and it’s a chance to visit the historic towns of Charleville-Mézières and Sedan.

So who’s volunteering to join us for next year’s race?

2 Responses to “Beating the heat for animal rights”

  1. Katie Timmins says:

    Just to say – I thoroughly enjoyed sharing Virginie’s rice pudding with you Pauline! Great blog! kate

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