The thirteenth edition of the agricultural cooperatives' half marathon created in 1994 was held south of Orleans, close to the Axereal head office. Following on from the Foulées Royales de Pau organised by Euralis in 2016, Axereal welcomed 2,500 participants to Olivet on Saturday 22 September for its Euro Challenge.
Of course, the cooperatives' half marathon is more than just a running race! It is a chance for employees from France’s agricultural cooperatives to demonstrate the values they share. This year, Axereal innovated by inviting two European cooperatives, member farmers and students from partner colleges to take part in the event. It was an opportunity for the agricultural community to send the world a strong message: agriculture is facing some tough challenges but with its enterprising cooperatives and staff, it is all set to tackle them.
This year’s edition was named the Euro Challenge 2018, in honour of the European cooperatives that were invited. The event is always a highlight of the calendar; a blend of sporting prowess, teamwork and a friendly atmosphere. There were three events for the 2,100 athletes. The 10km walk and 10km run through forests and orchards were followed by the competition everyone had been waiting for: the half marathon. A 21.1km course led runners along the banks of the Loire and Loiret rivers to the gates of Orleans city, with the cathedral as a backdrop.
The 70 people in the six committees spent 18 months working, meeting and giving up their time to find sponsors and organise the logistics, communications, hosting, finances and races that made the Euro Challenge possible. On the day, a full 300 Axereal staff volunteers were involved in welcoming the 2,500 participants from 71 cooperatives to ensure that this event was every bit as successful as all those that have gone before it in the twenty-year history of the coops' half marathon. Thanks to the support of over 100 partners, the day was entirely self-financing.
The Euro Challenge was an outstanding team-building experience for all involved. It reminded us that beyond the performance aspect, sport really does bring people together. Axereal’s 280 staff and 12 farmer member athletes did an excellent job of representing the group, and special congratulations go to Sylvie Torremonell who took gold in the women’s half marathon.
Now it’s over to Advitam group, in Hauts-de-France. In 2020, it will be their turn to host the 14th edition of this unique event!