Gabs Race Report:
It’s with much anticipation and excitement that I stood at the start of the Paris Marathon at the Arc de Triomphe, wondering how the run and course would go. With hampered training (colds and injury), I was determined to be as relaxed as possible, to enjoy the course and run to the conditions, accepting whatever time I achieved. Five minutes before the start, the sun rose above the rooftops, basking the whole street in bright sunshine, it was going to be a warm day. At 8:45 we were off and running down the Champs des Elysees towards the Place de la Concorde, along the Rue de Rivoli and up towards the Bastille.
The Bastille was the first of many water stations and the increased congestion provided a heightened sense of danger which was repeated at all subsequent feeding points; basically, the water and food was laid out on one side of the road, it was a case of dodging runners as they weaved in and out to pick up a drink, whilst also skidding over slippery banana and orange skins that had been thrown on the floor.
The route headed off out of the city centre, the steady stream of mass runners masking the undulating course towards a very large park, the de Vincennes. This provided some shelter from the sun but like other parts of the course was a little crowded due to the narrow pathways. This was not helped when a group of Parisian Sunday runners, insisted on running against the tide – bloody French!
Heading back to the Bastille (1/2 way) mark, I managed to spot my family, stopped to give them a quick kiss, hug and photo shot then continued on towards the River Seine via Boulevard Henri IV. What a magnificent and fantastic sight that appeared; the Notre Dame and the Golden Globe rooftop of the Hotel De Invalides. As we ran along the river bank, the stunning sights continued – with the Eiffel Tower, Trocadero, Grand Palais and all the beautiful architecture that lined the river.
The pace was steady and allowed time to look around and enjoy the scenery. It was along this part of the course 25 – 33km, that I started to feel my legs tighten up and was conscious that I would have to be careful and nurse myself around. The underpasses provided welcome relief and shade from the sun but did not help the legs with the declines and inclines. I eventually came up with a strategy to run a km and then walk for 15 – 30 seconds, just to ensure I would not cramp up.
At 35km, there was a feed station serving wine and cheese, it was very tempting to stop completely, walk the rest of the way and enjoy the beaujolais! but no, I had to continue and complete the course the best I could. Leaving the River Seine and heading into a beautiful park called the de Boulogne, the route took us past the impressive racecourse Longchamp.
With 2km to go, the end was in sight and I put all my effort into finishing well, up the Avenue Foch (quite an appropriate street name to finish a marathon). I collected my medal and free breakfast (banana, orange, apple, raisins, apricots, coffee) and went to meet my family at the Eiffel Tower, to begin a 3-day sightseeing tour.
If you cannot enter the London and/or fancy an alternative spring marathon, I would highly recommend the Paris. The scenery was beautiful, the course was undulating but not too taxing and the camaraderie amongst the runners was very good. Although my time 3:38:41 was not a PB, I was very happy, considering that I had an interrupted training routine, and had not had to pull up without finishing the course.
Congratulations to the other Harriers that also took part - Dave, Nora, Keith and the lady from Steve Crane’s group but most importantly to the 2 people that helped me train and prepare for the run – Terry McEwen and Liz Stockton.
Race Results :