Marathon of Forts


 With the warm weather this week my office windows have been flung wide open. Once or twice a day, babbling French voices drift into the open window. The musical voices of neighbors taking their daily constitutional in groups of two and three. Their singsong banter sets the pace of the walk, slowing when discussing a juicy subject and zipping along as they get animated about a hot point.

Just before noon I’ll hear the swish of rubber on the pavement. That’s my neighbor on his 1950s bike going to collect his lunch time baguette. Eight minutes later he’ll pass back by - unless there is a crowd at the bakery or there has been some really juicy village news to catch up on. 

On weekend days a sharp shout of “Right ,right, right” will be accompanied with the fast swoosh of many bike tires. The local bike club has passed by and doesn’t want to miss the right turn onto the bridge that starts the return loop.

Yesterday, the gentle audible rhythm of my days was completely torn asunder. Yesterday the Marathon of Forts passed in front of our home. No sky scrappers of NYC, no encouraging crowds of the streets of Boston. This a marathon that starts in our nearest neighboring village, Brantome, passing under the 13th century abbey, entering a forest that has seen the passage of cave painting humans and Roman invaders, skimming rolling farm fields, and tucking back along the tranquil Dronne River and her 12th century bridge that will funnel the participants through the tiny alleys of Bourdeilles, finishing along her elegant 18th century ramparts.
 


Imagine this tiny village of 350 inhabitants invaded by 1600 runners, walkers and all terrain bikers - accompanied by their support teams of friends and family. 
 


Sunday morning the sweet babble of my neighbors was turned into a torrent of shouts and mumblings, swishing wheels and squishy shoes (the forest is muddy), snorts and gasping. Seeing the chateau of Bourdeilles in the distance the participants knew that they were in the home stretch. No one had the energy left to gossip, the end was in sight and there was awaiting a meal of local products and something cold to drink. This stream of humanity was focused.
 

Here it is Monday, the weather is still glorious, the windows are open, and there is nothing more than a whisper along the street.  Yesterday’s breezes have carried away the crush of noise of just another one of those funny things that pass through our small village in France.