I’m back in France, back in Lyon, and I’m about a half marathon short of the weekly distance target of 50 miles or about 80 kilometers. Luckily for me, I had a lazy Sunday morning that I could follow up with a pleasant afternoon run on the familiar roads and trails near the Soane. A half marathon by the river? No problem.

The only complication was a missing toenail.

Following the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra and the horrendous descending that I really have to get better at I had two black toenails on the big toe of both feet. Though they didn’t fall off straight away, they were going to at some stage and last night in the shower the right (and most blackened) fell off as I cleaned my feet. There was no blood and Cécile popped a bit of iodine on the toe bed just to keep the infection out, but I was not sure how it would go on a longer run.

Of course, the best way to find out how your fare with only nine toenails on a longer run is to…take a longer run. And so I set out this afternoon to complete my distance target and see just how painful a toe without a toenail is.

You know, typical Sunday afternoon stuff for an ultrarunner.


I set off from Jacobins after waiting about five minutes for the GPS to lock in. Usually it is a little quicker than this but I suspect it got used to locking onto Californian satellites and took its time finding the French ones again. When I got going I dropped straight onto the path next to Saone and headed upriver. There were a few people crowding around the cruise boats near the footbridge but not many along the river itself. A couple of fishermen, the odd couple baking in the sun, and some families out strolling along the Soane.

I followed the path and the trail all the way to the Isle Barbe before dropping under the bridge and following the trail a little further across the loose stones and gravel. At the end of the trail I made a u-turn and then another u-turn a few hundred meters later to start the climb of the Montee Castellane up to the top of the plateau. I kept a fairly consistent pace up the hill, though it was slower than the 4:50’s or thereabouts that I was keeping up until that point. Pushing over the top of the hill, I found a steep staircase that took me to the Voie de la Dombes and I set out to find the end of that trail, too.

At the end of the Voie de la Dombes I usually take a one kilometer or so loop around the streets of Sathonay before heading back along the trail to Cuire. As I reached the first turn of this loop I noticed a couple staring at a map and trying to figure out where they were. I stopped to give them a hand – they were English and more than a little lost – and it turned out they had followed the Voie and thought they were heading to Cuire. Unfortunately, they had gone in the wrong direction and found the Sathonay end of the trail instead. I set them right and continued on my way hoping they would be OK with an extra long Sunday stroll.

After the loop was done I dropped back onto the Voie and headed for home. I kept a nice pace through here, pausing only once to refill my handheld water bottle once at the 13 kilometer point. After that it was a straight shot through Cuire, Croix Rousse, and then down the hill to the Soane again. I kept a nice steady tempo, dropped back onto the path, and finally clicked stop on the Garmin shortly after the half marathon point.

A nice way to end a busy week of running and traveling and – best of all – my naked toe seems to have handled the distance and climbing well. With a 50 mile run less than two months away now, this is a good lesson to learn now.

Distance: 21.2km

Elevation: 151m

Time: 1:44:37


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