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There’s not a lot of racing on right now, and there’s not likely to be a lot of racing soon. 

The LyonSainteLyon is still on the cards, of course and it’s my goal for this disrupted season. But it’s also months away and there’s little to race in the meantime.

So, when I am looking ahead to the long runs in the training program that I’m set to follow, I’m thinking less about racing and more about some journeyruns.

(Honestly, I’m not sure if the term is meant to be presented as journeyrun or journey run, but I like the conjunction and so we’ll stick with that.)

A journeyrun is a long run where the goal is not the time on a clock or a position at a finish line but rather the simple act of moving from one place to another by foot. The journey is the point or, to paraphrase Harry Chapin, it’s a run where the going – not the getting there – is the good part.

While under lockdown I thought a few times about the sorts of journeyruns that I might make and here are a couple that I have in mind.

Annecy to Albertville

I heard about a bike path that ran between Annecy and Albertville a couple of years ago. It’s about 45 kilometers of so between the two towns, the former a beautiful town on a lake and the other a Winter Olympics host city at the foot of the mountains. 

I think that this could be a nice morning or afternoon journeyrun, especially if I was meeting up with family at the other end. A train ride to Albertville in the morning, for example, followed by a run to Annecy to meet with the family in the afternoon could be a great day out. Spend the night by the lake, eat some good food, and take a run the next morning to shake things out – sounds like fun, right?

Macon to Lyon

Getting to the town of Macon is pretty easy: you take the local train up the river Saone and get off after about an hour.

Getting back to Lyon is fairly simple, too: just follow the canal paths and small local roads alongside the same river all the way back to the city.

It’s a little bit longer at 75 kilometers and really all of a day on your feet if you don’t race it. But following the river is always good fun and the last 30 kilometers is very familiar to me from running and cycling locally. I think it’ll be nice to be able to count down the kilometers as I pass the villages and suburbs on the edge of Lyon, and then push through the final couple of kilometers along the path that leads me home to our apartment in the city center.

Jons to Vienne

Now it’s possible to run from Lyon to Jons, and I’ve done that before. Extending things out to Vienne, though, especially if you follow the GR 422 trail, makes for an extra-long day that might just be out of reach for a journeyrun, at least one where you expect to be able to make it back home for dinner.

The GR 422 trail winds from Jons over about 100 kilometers to Vienne. The operative word here is winds as a straight shot to the old Roman town of Vienne is far shorter. The trail passes through villages, towns, and small hamlets along the Rhone, and eventually drops you into the old part of Vienne where a train regularly shuffles people back to Lyon. I like Vienne, its ruins, its jazz festival, and its enormous Saturday market, but I’ve never run there, so it’s on my list.

Canal de l’Ourcq

This one has to wait for a while, I think, even if only for the country to really open up again.

The Canal de l’Ourcq is a 108-kilometer-long canal from the source of the Ourcq river all the way into the French capital. While the parts in and near the city are popular with runners and walkers alike, once you are out of the city you are likely alone most of the time.

Which is one of the best ways to do a journeyrun, if you ask me.

I’m not sure when I’d fit this in and, unlike the other journeyruns I’ve considered, it would take a bit of organization and a fair bit of money to spend a very long day on my feet. I’d also have to figure a way to get out to the source, and then run my way back. It would be hard to get lost following the canal path which is nice, but Paris can be more than a little polluted so the arrival into the City of Love might not be so, well, lovely.

But until I’ve run it it’s impossible to say just how it looks, feels, smells, and tastes for sure.

And that’s one of the reasons you do a journeyrun: to find that out.