Running in the heart of Brittany : Huelgoat-Carhaix Half Marathon

23 Dec 2010 09:15
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race

Nicolas Bilirit is 28 years old. Involved in the organization of the courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix since their inception, he is today with André Coatanéa co-president of Breizh Sport Attitude the association behind the event. Since 2008 he is also referee for the French Track&Field Association.

§staticmap(7707,7,450,250)Hello, on May 14th 2011, you’ll be organizing the Huelgoat-Carhaix Half Marathon . Can you tell us where it is located?

The race is held in the heart of Brittany, France, more specifically in Finistère.

You may already have heard of Carhaix, thanks to the music festival (the largest in France) which is held there every summer : Les Vieilles Charrues.

This town of 8,000 inhabitants is located at the crossroad of 3 departments : Finistère, Côtes d’Armor and Morbihan, at a 1 hour drive from Brest or 1:45 from Rennes.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

The first edition was held on July 9th 2005, so in 2011 we will celebrate its 7th anniversary.

The idea of creating this race was formed during one of the bike rides I and Ronan Guilloux frequently undertook between Huelgoat and Carhaix, on roads that local cyclists are fond of.

Since we were both runners, the question was “why not organize a race to promote this lovely part of Brittany?”.

As the counter on the bike showed about 21 km, we chose to organize a half marathon. The association Breizh Sport Attitude was then created.

Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix 2010
Credit : Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route is changed nearly every year, but for 2011 it will remain the same.

One third of this city to city route is ran on footpath and 2/3 on asphalt roads. The start line is located on the banks of the Huelgoat lake.

It then winds through the green countryside, between cow fields, state-hold forest and rivers to end up in the gorgeous finish line nested in one of the loveliest valleys of Brittany : the valley of Hyères.

The route is fast and favorable to personal records. It offers also the opportunity to discover the beauty of central Brittany.

Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix 2010
Credit : Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix
How many runners do you expect on Saturday afternoon? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

A reasonable goal for the half marathon would be around 450 runners.

Non competitive runners will form the vast majority of the pack, but the 2050 euro prize should also attract regional or national Elite runners who would be more than happy to put their name in the list of winners.

Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

We also organize a 10 km race. The start line is located in Poullaouën, a little town located between Huelgoat and Carhaix.

The route is really fast and the race as well as the half marathon is certified by the French Track and Field Association.

Children will also take part in the event since a 400 m and a 800 m race have been set up for them at the beginning of the afternoon, near the finish line.

Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix 2010
Credit : Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix
At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

The weather in Brittany is quite unpreditable, but last year not a single raindrop fell on the runners heads (smile).

Let’s hope it will be the same next May. No joke, the temperatures at this time of the year are ideal for running between 15 and 18°C.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

A few musical animations have been scattered along the route. But they are too few and it is an issue we will focus on for the 2011 and the following editions.

The finish in the valley of Hyères is particularly animated and noisy since there is a lot of spectators.

The half marathon finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Carhaix before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

There are a lot of things you shouldn’t miss : the legendary forest of Huelgoat with its rocky chaos and Arthurian relics, the valley of Hyères in Carhaix and all the sport activities offered there (golf, tree climbing, horse riding,…) and the city center Carhaix, with its shops, red Castle and lovely churches.

It would also be a shame leave without eating Brittany’s crêpes and drinking a bowl of cider.

Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix 2010
Credit : Courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Huelgoat-Carhaix?

The route is fast and pleasant, laid out in the heart of Brittany on footpaths and asphalt roads, an event organized with humour and good mood, smiles and relaxation, but also seriousness and rigor, 250 dynamic and motivated volunteers, a lot of prizes for everyone and for Elite runners,… A summary of the courses pédestres Huelgoat-Carhaix in a few words.

Thank you Nicolas.