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R*n 711 Chin Up or It's Hilly in Menton

Thanks to Coco and Contessa for stepping in at the last minute in the absence of the Hareline Book, mysteriously lost in Madame Mouton's move to Gattieres- Madame Mouton must be lost too as no-one had heard from her for several days. Well anyway excellent sunny weather had been arranged for the day as we all met near a big circle marked in flour at a large carpark near the Garavan port in Menton.

Anxious to keep to time, Padre called the Off for the runners as Pedo and Coco returned from setting up the beer stop; so Cumalot, Padre, Perpetual Motion and Sadist being the core of the running group, followed up by Pedo and Coco, set off along the beach path looking for flour and trail marks. However the check removal squad had been busy once again- they must have followed us from Salsomaggiore- as no circles were to be found. Nevertheless by keen observance of the flour blobs well laid throughout the town we managed to find the correct trail up through little passages and stairs. Despite rumours that the trail had been laid inside the big church we gave a miss to running round the aisles as a mass seemed to be in progress. We planned a regroup at the next check to let Pedo and Coco catch up but, no circles found, we pressed on. The trail headed out of town up a narrow valley road and suddenly across a footbridge to a parallel road still climbing up the valley. Strangely this narrow road was called a boulevard and at the end there was a fine building which was a Theatre. There was also a road called chemin des Belles asses though I could see neither donkeys nor well-shaped posteriors.

Perpetual Motion had run on ahead by the time the second select group of runners came upon a circle check; Cumalot duly took a photograph of it. Marking the upper trail in case Coco and Pedo were still following, we continued our ascending run. Still carefully observing all the details of the surroundings we noticed a very unusual tree with beautiful red striped white flowers which Padre reckoned was from the tropical east as the bark was covered with thorns.( Menton does have some very interesting gardens by the way.) Back on trail we had reached the level of the autoroute and the trail now turned back towards the sea, though we had not yet stopped climbing- not much likelihood that the walkers would be coming this way. The road was called the chemin of the superior glue and had magnificent views at the top. Then we had the Down reward after all that Up, passing the inferior glue road, which we did not take, until we came to the cemetery where we found Perpetual Motion and the beer stop. There must have been some serious shortcutting by Pedo and Coco as they were already there ahead of us.

Well no mean-spirited remarks as they had chosen an excellent place for the beer stop with marvellous views over the bay and even benches for tired hashes to rest on. An orientation table pointed out the views towards Rome, Madrid and Berlin, though I must say my eyesight was not up to seeing these faraway places. Soon the walkers group also arrived, surviving what for them must have been a tough climb. I did pay a brief visit to the cemetery to see how William Webb Ellis was getting on, or rather to see in what condition his grave was being maintained by the French Rugby Club, but I didn't have time to find the grave as the cemetery was surprisingly large. One grave had a notice on it giving a telephone number on which people were asked to contact the occupant; not having my mobile with me I could not fulfil this request.

We could see on the beach below us the car-park from which we had started and it was a bit disconcerting to learn that the second half would take 30 minutes as it looked just a 10 minute run down to the sea. Apparently the runners were not allowed to run through the large olive grove on the way, though access would be permitted to the walkers. So we set off again running a largely flat trail towards Italy for a couple of kilometres; not permitted to run through the olive grove or the exotic garden we kept on. A number of stairways seemed to lead down to the sea but no flour on them. Then a little bit of downhill; through a tunnel under the railway and we were at sea level; about 500 metres along the flat and, back at the start; time for a beer.

Farty Bum took notes on the circle lead by Padre. A sort of Tex Mex lunch and as we were about to go home the compact with the weather gods came to an end and the skies clouded over, though I was long home by the time the rains came.

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