'It was the atmosphere that drove us to register.'

Françoise and Michel BLANC-BERNARD

At 72 and 73 years old, Françoise and Michel BLANC-BERNARD will be among the oldest competitors at the first MARATHON DES SABLES PERU. This couple, who have been married for 48 years and have two children, are spending their retirement from careers as dentists in a suburb of Lyon. A quiet retirement? Not so much. Around 10 years ago, when the BLANC-BERNARDs were over 60, they took up running (that alone can be a source of hope for many people!). Since then, they have been taking on events of all kinds. 'In 2011, we did a training session with Serge Cottereau. Since then, we have both taken part in a few half-marathons, eight marathons, the Saintexpress in 2016 (44 km) and a few short trails.'

 

Then there was the MARATHON DES SABLES this year, in 2017: 'that was our most difficult sports event. We were ill-prepared for carrying our backpacks and covering long distances in scorching heat.' Yet, even if it proved difficult, this MDS was still a most beautiful experience for both of them: 'all the same, our best sports memory is receiving the MDS finisher medal.' They finished the event in 1,017th and 1,018th place.

 

They will be taking part in the MDS PERU with a group of six friends with ages ranging from 25 to 73. While they have not yet been to Peru, they have travelled extensively, including to South America (Ecuador). They have even gone gallivanting for two years in a 4 x 4 truck in Africa with their children — an experience of a lifetime.

 

Their objective? 'Just to finish.' Not too shabby, don't you think? 'It was the atmosphere that drove us to register for the MDS PERU, the desire to reprise this experience and prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing it again, both of us as a couple despite our age (which we try not to think about!).'

 

With their first experience in Morocco and their training — four to five runs per week for 50 km, plus a few sessions of mountain hiking, cycling and skiing in winter — we reckon this couple from Lyon will do very well for themselves in the Ica desert come December.