The story of Abou Abdallah, the running champion refugee who is about to get deported



[Abou has just been freed, thanks everyone for helping]

Photo by Bomain Bouvren

A couple of months ago, in one of our weekly runs in the Parisian northeastern suburb (Jaures), someone special joined our team. A quiet man from Sudan who spoke no French and a little English but shook everyone’s hand with a smile, not asking for anything else than go running.

Little did we know at that time until later that he was a refugee who sleeped by the winter in street’s tents set by the Stalingrad area (see article about it here). His journey to France was not without dramas as you may imagine, he had crossed multiple times the Mediterranean Sea hiding in boats until getting to Paris.

Even if he had to move further away from our area in the northeast, he kept coming every Tuesday with us to run, always with the fastest group but he never once took the lead up front.

At first I thought it was because he was struggling with the pace but when we were asking, he never answered with something else than a smile and a “Yes no problem, I’m good, I’m good”. If I only knew that he was actually much much faster than every one of us combined.

A few months later, he did his first race picking up a bib at the last minute and won the 10k race in ~31m. Three weeks later, he did the same at the 10k of the “Course du Grand Paris” and won it even though he took a wrong turn multiple times.

Sadly, two days ago he was arrested for illegal stay on the French territory and he’s about to get deported away. We are trying to get as much signatures as possible on this petition :

It would be great if we can have much signatures as possible here so we can build up the case with the lawyers.

Controlling Yamaha AV RX-A830 from command line

At home I have been using a Yamaha AV RX-A380, it’s an home teather audio video solution where you can plug about everything you need (like 7 hdmi channel, spoiler alert there is something wrong with you if you have that many devices) and output to two other hdmi channel (like a tv and a projector).

It has integration for spotify, airplay, netradio and billions of connection to everything, just look at the damn back of this device :

Since I wanted to control it from the command line to automate it for home automation, I firebugged the web interface and reversed some of the REST calls in a nice bash script.

Here it is at your convenience to using or hack it :

This doesn’t support multi-zone and assume the web interface is resolvable to http://yamaha.local/ (it should be by default) so be aware. This may support other Yamaha AV devices but since I don’t have it I can’t say and you may have try, if it does kindly add a comment here soother would know 🙂

Phnom Penh half marathon, race report

[This is a post I posted on reddit on 14th of June 2016, reposting in all its glory here for prosperity]


Update: the results came in and I came 24 out of 150]

I ran this week-end the Phnom Penh half marathon, an interesting half marathon started only two years ago in the capital of Cambodia.

I was not planning to do it, I had two weeks of work booked in Singapore and one week for time off with not much plans. When I saw on the website that there was a race in Cambodia this week-end I thought to myself why not and registered for around 40$ which is like a fortune for here but that’s the foreigner price.


I didn’t prepare myself much I have been doing a lot of triathlons in May (two half-IM and one olympics) but I haven’t been running much after that due of a bad knee I picked up during one of the half-IM. I did try to go for a run in singapore by 7:30AM and started doing 5k at my normal pace (around 4’45km/7’40mi) but I could feel my body overheating and I walked back to my hotel. After that I didn’t run much during the week, once on the treadmill (which I hate) and my knee started to feel painful and actually could not walk much during that day.

By that time I was giving up on running that week-end and let myself goes, i.e: drinks, smoking and not much sleep by night but when I arrived in Phnom Penh on Friday night I started to feel my knee was feeling a bit better so I though why not maybe I run/walk for a few k take pictures and at least soak up the experience.

I went to pickup my bib just in front of the Royal Palace which was two minutes away from my very cheap and fancy hotel. The registration went smoothly and was like the one you find in Europe/US, you check your number on a big list, you show your ID and there we go you have your bib number and a nice t-shirt, no useless flyers or freebies tho.

I met a local expat there from canada and It was nice to talk to him a bit, his first comment about the race was, well it’s not a very nice course as there is not much places to run but it’s not too baaaaadd (I am trying to put the canadian accent in writing for context). That didn’t inspire me much confidence but I have run in some crappy places around the world and it doesn’t really bother me much.

I had some good cambodian food with a beer (the local one taste like water anyway) by the evening which looked like pad thai i think and went to sleep early for the 6AM start.

By the morning at 5AM I could not find any place to eat so I had to skip breakfast and went straight to the race. We were just around 100 people max I think doing the half marathon, but they announced over 5000 for the 10k and 3km fun race, which I kind of doubt but I guess you need to trust the communist propaganda. it was starting to be already hot but still bearable like just under 30C and a light wind,.


Off we started, I went cool and easy to not trigger my knee injury and tried to run by feeling only, my watch just beeped the first km at just around 4’50/km. At first the traffic was completely blocked, the policemens were really strict when the motorbikes or tuk tuk was trying to get into the traffic, and actually started shooting at them really angrily. There was policemen like on every corners to watch for traffic and things were looking well from this side (more on that later).

The water station was located at every 2km they had hot (as not iced) water by the first one and some of them had iced cold water. There was some bananas as well every 5km I think which I filled up since I didn’t have any breakie.

I was controlling my pace and was feeling good until we got to the Japaness built bridge (that’s how it’s actually called) when the sun came out which you could see in one of my picture and the heat started to surge.

After the bridge it became much harder, since we were in some desert area where there was cars and motorbike starting to pop up near us and there was some very bad smell in those places. It was annoying the motorbikes but it was not too bad yet, it became really really annoying when you have to cross a really large roundabout and zigzag between the tuktuk that goes around you at full speed, those guys are actually quite good (there is no red light in PP so they have skills) as long you make the right eye contacts.

We went north of PP near the island and was making our way back, it was starting to really get hot around 36C and humid and my pace started to be more in the 5’00km/8’00mi which was okay for me. On the way back from the island we joined the runnings who were doing the 10k race, by that time it was only the ‘fun runners’ so it was mostly walkers and selfie takers. It was good fun tho to see them enjoying it, it seems that for a lot of them was their first time doing running and felt happy for them.

I went on and on and noticed another half marathoners from japan i think that was keeping pace with me. Before then I was only passing people for most of the time so this gave me a boost to catch up with him. By the 16km/10mi I was feeling my knee starting to hurting me but I went on and ignored it and started to slow down a little bit more my pace.

The half marathoners ‘forked’ from the 10k runner around the 18km and off by ourselves we went, by that time there was a lot of marshal, writing down our numbers by every 500m (how many people can you hire doing that job i guess for 40$ which is like a monthly local salary ?). There was the chipset thing as well but I guess they wanted to make sure nobody was cheating. I was also surprise that the written down kilometers on the floor were exactly on pace with my garmin watch, I guess not having tall building made the GPS good and they really worked out the distance.

By that time I was mostly running by myself with my Japan race buddy just behind I guess, it was very very hot now and I could feel my body overheating, I am a dark skin person from southern europe so I usually don’t fear the sun but this one from Cambodia had a special taste.

We had another bridge crossing, an annoying one and I was getting very tired, there was a slight ascent to the bridge and a water station just before, I stopped this time and took some ice lemonade and walked the ascent instead of running. My Japaneses race buddy was already out of my sight and off he was. After the bridge I started to run again properly and my pace went up.

On the 20k we were making our way back to the royal palace and the finish line on a very long
straight road, this is were I started to get my adrenaline kick, forgot about my injury and the heat and off I ran a relatively fast 4’30km/7’15mi to the finish line. Just before the finish I saw my Japaneses friend getting there and slowing so I started to sprint like a maniac to pass him right before he crossed. I felt sorry (it was kind of douchey) and hugged him by the finish he didn’t seem to mind. My pace was exactly 1h45:40s on my watch, which is 5’00/km 8’00/mi which was perfect time for me even tho I would have rather do at least 1h40 🙂


When I arrived a lot of people was there and it was some kind of party with a lot of people ‘selfying’ and taking pictures. There was no refreshment by the finish line which was a bit weird and had to wait in line under the burning sun.

I talked with a few people and some fellow french women that went second in the race (1h36) they were mostly all locals and was surprised I came here as a tourist to race this. I was tired and went back to my hotel to shower and enjoy the swimming pool.

They don’t have the official results yet on the website but if I take the 2015 results, I am right around the 20 first from 100.

Would I do that race again? Probably not, but I encourage anyone in the region to do it. When chatting with the locals, it definitely impressed them and maybe inspired them to running a little bit more in the future.


Road to Ironman Frankfurt 2017

IRONMAN Frankfurt 2015 – Skynamic Drone Footage for Hessischer Rundfunk from on Vimeo.

It’s been almost a year since I blogged so today is for something almost completely different is a post about my “sporting” life.

For most people who knows me I have been doing quite a lot of sports since i passed thru my 30s 7 years ago and i have slowly ramped up to the challenge and distance in running and triathlon with marathons and half ironman.

Even if i keep enjoying doing it I have felt that i was reaching to a plateau for this year, it was quite a complete year with 2 half IronMan, one olympic distance triathlon, 2 half marathon (including one in Pyong Penh Cambodia) and 1 marathon in october in amsterdam. I can always improve my times and such but always had the full IronMan distance in mind since I have started doing and I guess there is no better time than now.

So after much thinking I decided to get myself to the full ironman happening in 2017 by frankfurt.


My preference would have been to do the ones in France like Vichy or Nice. Nice is quite popular around triathlete in france and I know that a lot of my friends are planning or want to do it but for me since Nice’s swim is in the open water and since I am such a bad swimmer (yeah really that bad) I can’t even think having to do 3.8km (2.3 miles) in open water with all the waves and such, ironman frankfurt has the swim in the lakes and an australian exit which make things much easier for bad swimmer.

Vichy has the swim in lakes too but the race happen too late in summer (30st of August) and since I have a 10 year kid and want to enjoy with him the holiday without having to worry about the training I’d rather having it earlier in summer like for Frankfurt which is the first week of July.

There is a nifty blog post on from 2010 but still relevant i would guess on the different difficulties of all the ironmens triathlons around the world. The easiest one seemed to happen in Austria which seems wonderful and very much enjoyable but the transport was looking to be a pain from Paris almost 11 hours drive and multiple change of train/flight to get there by public transport. For frankfurt it’s a relatively easy 5h drive from paris and there is the thalys which goes directly by train there. It’s even quicker than to go to nice from paris.


There is as well the fact that ironman frankfurt is known as being one of the most supported race in the world second only to challenge roth (which actually happen 200km away on the same day), the german are usually is a very groupe crowd of supporter. I ran Koeln half marathon in 2013 and really enjoyed the people there it was a very much incredible experience.

Frankfurt is too a big city so it is not going to be too difficult to find reasonably priced accommodations (it was such a pain for ironman 70.3 in UK in exmoore since it was out of nowhere and there is great bars and pubs for after party drinks if everything goes well hopefully 😉

My running and cycling stats of 2012

And here is another year finishing and I am looking back how did I do with my fitness.

I have not done well with regard to my class A running race, I wasn’t able to make to the Jerusalem marathon due of passport problem of my kid and had to easy my running due of a bad ankle since February, but I still did a 1h32 half marathon by March and a 1h38 in L.A in Septembre, just in time to hit over 1000km by this year :

  Running stats 2012

I have instead did much more cycling finishing a easy sportive in wales of 130km and a pretty hard one in south of france of 160km with a lot of mountains climbed. I made it to 5000Km (for my racing bike not counting my city bike which has around 500km on it) :

Cycling Stats 2012

I would have done much more if I didn’t have a bad upper shine when I was in australia where I was going to do a month of cycling.

This year looks promising with the Madrid Marathon in april (going for around 3h20) and probably some pretty good cycling trips during the summer if shin/ankle get sorted, I am looking forward to 2013.

Toshiba Regza 32AV615DB blank screen HDMI Linux

I have this nice Toshiba TV which is connected to a small Linux box which act as a media player. I have been some issue lately the things works fine under the 1920×1800 resolution most of the time. But once in a while I get a blank screen and the nvidia driver telling me this :

(II) Dec 03 17:00:19 NVIDIA(0): “nvidia-auto-select”
(II) Dec 03 17:00:19 NVIDIA(0): Virtual screen size determined to be 640 x 480
(WW) Dec 03 17:00:19 NVIDIA(0): Unable to get display device CRT-0’s EDID; cannot compute DPI
(WW) Dec 03 17:00:19 NVIDIA(0): from CRT-0’s EDID.
(==) Dec 03 17:00:19 NVIDIA(0): DPI set to (75, 75); computed from built-in default
(==) Dec 03 17:00:19 NVIDIA(0): Enabling 32-bit ARGB GLX visuals.
(–) Depth 24 pixmap format is 32 bpp

Spend a long time trying to debug the thing by the software but it seems that the TV has some kind of trouble and if I switch it to another HDMI connection it does detect fine which I do at about every week… not a biggie but still annoying.

Automatic best resolution with xrandr

If you like me you have a big screen with your laptop and wants to automate when your X session start to get the best resolution, you can use that script :

[code lang=”bash”]

function get_resolutions() {
xrandr|while read -a line;do
RES=”${line[1]}x${line[3]} ”
[[ ${RES} != [0-9]* ]] && continue
echo ${RES}

for res in $(get_resolutions);do
[[ $_res -ge ${_BEST_RES} ]] && {
xrandr -s ${BEST_RES}