Race Report: Paris Marathon
By Cathy Drew
This weekend I ran the Paris Marathon – my second marathon after a disaster at Brighton last year when I passed out at mile 21. I managed to limp over the line eventually in 5 hours 29 minutes, so was really hoping for a big personal best this year.
Paris seemed like the perfect place for my second marathon, as I’ve being doing my year abroad in Lille, just north of the capital.
It’s a big race, but very French – involving bad singers around the route, crazy people shouting odd things at you and even people wheeling their suitcases alongside the runners.
It’s one of the ‘big five’ marathons, and one to do!
The race organization was good prior to the marathon: the website sent us out lots of badly (but amusingly!) translated tips during the final 10 days of training. You have to send a medical certificate in to participate, which is pain to get, but easy enough to get to them.
However, on the day I wasn’t so impressed… I arrived in what I thought was plenty of time to get to the start line, but ended up queuing for 45 minutes for one of the only 2 toilets at the start line.
The expo was a highlight of the whole weekend! Picking up your number was really easy and the ladies giving them out were super nice and wished me ‘bon courage’ with a big smile.
At the Expo were heaps of stalls offering up other marathons around France: mostly involving wine ‘en route’. My friends took full advantage of the free samples going round and it ended up being a very entertaining morning as we were even given a free bottle of wine by the Beaujolais marathon stall!
It was easy to get to the start (although be prepared to play sardines with millions of other runners on the metro) but the start itself was real mess. There were far too few toilets for the 40 000 competitors, and for me this was a disaster as I ended up being right at the back of the field and in completely the wrong place for the time I wanted.
They staggered the starting corrals massively and this meant I didn’t even start until 45 minutes after the first runner crossed the line! If this had been a half marathon, the elites would’ve practically finished. Definite need for improvement there!
The route was very impressive: Paris is a city made to run around. Running alongside the Eiffel Tower and past the Louvre was brilliant. However, it was very narrow at points, and at times very crowded and hard to run properly. There are also a couple of tunnels, which are really odd to run through!
After running Brighton in beautiful sunshine and screaming crowds last year, I found the Paris crowds a bit underwhelming. That’s not to say the crowd was in any way bad, but I expected a bit more from a capital city. I had lots of encouragement from people with British and American accents, but the French were much more reserved and seemed to be saving their cheers for their own friends. However, it was pretty ace to hear someone shout “Cathy – t’es champion!” at mile 24!
On Route Drinks and Snacks
Water stations are every 5km but they were very busy and the bottles were going everywhere! There were bananas (?!) and oranges every 10km and a Powerade station at mile 22.
Hmmm. Canary yellow short sleeved Asics tee. Not one to wear in my free time.
The medal’s good: t-shirt shaped with a nice big space for engraving on the back.
Post race organization
This was pretty good, although I did have to ask for a foil blanket specially. It was easy to get through to the public area to find friends and family. There was lots of water, powerade and fruit on offer too.
Marks out of 10: 6/10
Follow Cathy on Twitter @Cathy_Jane_Drew
Cathy ran as part of the Women’s Running 26.2 Project and was trained by Phoebe of Running With Us.