Grand Raid 774

The Grand Raid is always a special event when you live in Reunion, even if you’re not directly involved in it. You always know someone who is running, or at least someone who knows someone who’s either running or helping out. 

My husband often played with a music band at the start of the race, and we’d always cheer on a couple of friends, even if only online. We actually got married a few days before the 2010 Grand Raid, and there was definitely something special about that. I think we managed to save quite a bit on alcohol as a few of our guests couldn’t drink before the race. 

This year was extra-special though. My husband’s family came over from mainland France on holiday, and brought four friends along with them, one of whom came to do the Grand Raid! When we first heard about it we were a bit worried about whether that was a good idea. From what we’d understood – wrongly perhaps – he had trained mainly on the ‘Mont des Alouettes’, a 230m high hill in a town called Les Herbiers, in the French department of La Vendée. We knew that in order to sign up for the Grand Raid you need to have done some races in order to qualify, so we didn’t think he would be unprepared. But still, 172km with over 5600m of elevation gain, in under 64H! There’s a reason they call it the Diagonale des Fous, right?

When they got to Reunion, only a few days before the start of the race, there was a very special atmosphere at home. We found Guy very relaxed, and yet focused on the race. My husband and I found out that Guy was doing the race in tribute to special someone who had passed away some years ago. So there was this really special and loving support for him, and I think it was great for him to have his wife around, as well as four close friends. We slowly went into Grand-Raid mode, checking out the race routes about 10 times a day, working out when he might get to certain checkpoints so we could figure out where to see him, and so on. I actually couldn’t go anywhere to see him myself, so had the web-page used to keep track of the runners on our iPads ready to be refreshed every few hours. 

It all became very real when he went to pick up his number bib on the Wednesday. Number 774. Just a nine off 974! So off he went on the Thursday, and I have to admit that as much as we wanted him to succeed, there was a little bit of doubt deep inside, and a little bit of worry about whether he really knew what he was getting himself into, especially as we kept hearing about the number of people who had to abandon because of the weather at the beginning. We hoped he could get to Cilaos at least. And he did. Then we thought we’d be really proud if only he could get to Maïdo. And he did. I reckon it was at that point that we started really thinking he might make it to the end. And he did! We were so proud of him! And what made it even more special, although slightly strange, was that he came 774th, bib number 774! 

It was a truly magical experience for him and for all of us supporting him, and I’m pretty sure that special person he paid tribute to has something to do with that 774…


Involved – impliqué
To help out – donner un coup de main
Husband – mari
To cheer on – encourager
Quite a bit – un peu

Mainland France – métropol
To sign up – inscrire
To find out – découvrir
Tribute – hommage
To pass away – décéder

Support – soutien
To check out – vérifier
To work out – calculer
Checkpoint – point de contrôle
To figure out – comprendre

So on – etc.
Keep track – suivre
Bib – dossard
Get into – aborder
To reckon – croire

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