Paris in the Springtime – Paris Marathon – 05 April 2009
The Champs-Elysees under
blue sky, the Arc de Triomphe behind and the Colonne de Juillet in the
Place de Bastille ahead. There can’t be many better marathon starts than
this. Richard (Atkins) and Nigel (Rogerson, Lytchett), my long run
training partners, both seemed relaxed and eager. I wasn’t surprised as
the start down the vast avenue that the Champs-Elysees is, is invitingly
downhill all the way down to the Place de La Concorde. I had overcome
the disappointment of picking up an injury two weeks earlier but it
hadn’t healed and I was apprehensive about even completing. I probably
shouldn’t have started but now I just wanted to get going and hopefully
the injury would hold up.
After the Place de La
Concorde the run takes a mad turn, a bit like the Parisien traffic did
on the same corner the day before, and on to the Rue de Rivoli and past
the beautiful Musee du Louvre. The run had flattened out now and the
cobbles of the Champs-Elysees replaced by normal tarmac. The first
drinks station at 5k was noted by the presence of nuts, oranges, bananas
in addition to water but don’t expect any isotonic drinks as in London -
Powerade only appears 5k from the end. The right leg was giving some
jip now and occasional stops and stretches were in order. Up until the
half way mark the run goes out into the large Bois de Vincennes before
looping back onto the northern edge of the Seine. The crowds are smaller
than London and certainly quieter - many runners around me were trying
to encourage support. Even the bands seem muted compared to the
cacophony of London.
The run along the Seine,
shimmering under the morning sun, takes in all the sights: Notre-Dame,
Musee d’Orsay, and of course the Eiffel tower. By now I could barely run
so the last 10k was a mixture of walk and slow jog - with a mass of
runners passing from behind - but there was enough scenery to keep the
spirits up. So in to the Bois de Boulogne and the final few kilometres,
two stands advertising for the Beaujolais Nouveau marathon and a bit
later on the Medoc Marathon were both giving out samples of wine to the
runners although around me few took up the offer. The end was a welcome
site. Although this was my fifth marathon it was certainly the most
difficult. The time of 3hrs 44mins was irrelevant, I was just relieved
to have met the challenge and collected the medal.
Brilliant runs from Nigel
and Anthony (both well under 3 hours) and from Richard (sub-3hrs
After the finish,
organisation is not up to London’s efficiency – with large jams of tired
runners and spectators, and queues to get down in to the Metro (not free
travel/open barriers as in London). But once out there are plenty of
opportunities for a well earned drink.
So the positives?
Great Spring classic with
Fast course-definite PB
And the negatives?
Too tempting to sight-see
the day before – and tire yourself.
Efficiency of drinks stations and the end not up to London.
Katie and Tom Hopkinson shouting