Normandy Running Festival – Remembering D-Day

May 14, 2019

2019 is a significant year in the context of world history, with this year being the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy – some of the most impactful events which played out during World War Two. Paying homage to these events and the people who lost their lives is a key part of remembrance, with Les Courants de le Liberté holding their 31st D-Day Landings marathon to combine personal endurance with milestones along the beaches where the Normandy landings took place. We’ve taken a closer look at the routes and these landmarks which are incorporated within the race to see how the Normandy Running Festival brings runners closer to history.

Juno Beach

The race sets of from Juno Beach – one of five beaches where the Allied Forces landed as part of Operation Neptune on June 6th 1944. This was the largest seaborne invasion in history, and as the runners wait to start the race you can see out along the shore at just how daunting this must have been for the Allied Forces who had to run the full length of the beach and up to the wall.

Sword Beach

Stretching 8km from Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer all the way to Ouistreham, Sword Beach was another one of the main landing beaches as part of Operation Neptune. As the runners reach Saint-Audin-sur-Mer, they run almost the entire length of the beach and gain a perspective of just how wide spread the landings were. Although the sun-soaked sand looks particularly inviting on summer days at the present day, it’s hard to shake just how treacherous these landings were.

Kieffer Commandos Monument

The shorefront in Ouistreham is around a third of the way into the race and is the site of a particular part of the operations which were undertaken the D-Day Landings. The Kieffer Commandos Monument can be seen from quite a way along the route, built on top of a German 644 bunker. It commemorates the lives of No. 4 commandos of Lieutenant Kieffer who had the responsibility of coming ashore to render the batteries of Ouistreham harmless.

Pegasus Bridge

You might recognise the Pegasus Bridge from a fair few photos from World War 2 due to its bascule, rolling bridge design, with its key position as a crossing over the Caen Canal being a major objective of the D-Day Landings. The Pegasus Bridge – known as the Benouville Bridge at the time, was a key crossing point for artillery and tanks. This was seized overnight by Major Howard despite sniper fire from a nearby church spire. Although the original structure was replaced by a similar one in 1994 using the same design, the original can be seen from the running route at the Pegasus Museum.
If you’re interested in getting a first hand look at the landing sites and finding out more about the history around this historic day, then planning a trip to Normandy around the 75th anniversary is a great idea and is easy with a ferry to France with DFDS. Other running events will also be held around this time alongside special events at the museums in the local area to commemorate this momentous day seventy-five years ago and the men who lost their lives.

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