We have to wait for midnight in a gymnasium. A bit like, when we were kids, we waited for the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Shortly before the time, we head for the street where the departure is given. At the windows, men, women, children in vintage night shirts and nightcaps, carrying candles. They wish the runners “good night”. Midnight. The start is given.
I ran the SaintéLyon twice, in 1993 and 1994. It’s really something to be part of the «bright snake»! So many anecdotes! The first time, a young woman in front of me fell into a huge puddle of mud and… disappeared! When she got up, the mud was dripping all over her body, from the top of her head, like clowns in circuses! The distance is indicated every five kilometers but, at night, it is difficult to be sure of the distance covered from the last sign! Not to lose the way requires an attention of every moment; I met a line of about twenty runners who asked me if I was sure I was in the right direction. Imagine the doubt that crossed my mind! I was in the right direction. The second time I ran with a cousin. Towards the end of the night, on a descending road, I had to wake her up to prevent her from missing the turn and ending up in the barbed wire! There are so many runners that even if you are not in the first ones when you turn around in some places you can see the “bright snake” that the headlights of the runners and walkers draw behind.
I think it took me seven and a half to eight hours to run the 65 km, but whatever! Ten years earlier I never thought it was possible to run from Saint-Étienne to Lyon. And even less than I would!
La Saintélyon is a “night running raid” between the cities of Saint-Étienne and Lyon. It is a very popular running race, either individually or in teams of 2, 3 or 4 people. It is also possible to hike. It is partly done on asphalt and on hiking trails. This race takes place every year on the first weekend of December.