‘Running a marathon abroad’ had crept onto my sporting bucket list so I made Paris the destination for my 4th marathon – and it was a great idea.
Sure, I had a few reservations – language barrier being the biggest one, how would travelling + racing go together and would I be able to get hold of my favourite pre-race food etc etc, but those concerns seem ridiculous now. Racing abroad is fun! I was lucky enough to have a great Parisienne friend show me most of the ropes/route/restaurants, but even without a local guiding the way, a marathon mini-break is definitely one to try.
The Lowdown – Big city marathon, tens of thousands of runners, big corporate sponsors and cool sightseeing.
The Logistics – Its a bit of a faff but the big events always are. You head to an amazing expo (easily reached on the Paris Metro) to collect you race number, chip and goody bag. The biggest pain about Paris is the need for a medical certificate clearing you to run. The wording is strict and very specific, you need a stamp from your doctors surgery (which set me back £50) and you have to hand in the original at expo before they will let you collect your bib. Communication is via email with a good English translation.
The Course – quite simply, a stunner if you like road marathons. You start in central Paris, along the Champs Elysees with the Arc De Triumph acting as a backdrop. You run out to a park/woodland (Bois De Vincennes) to the East of the city, then head West all the way across town to another woodland (Bois De Boulogne) before finishing close to the start at The Arc De Triumph. The Eiffle Tower, The Louvre, Concorde, Place De La Bastille, Notre-Dame and the Musee d’Orsay are all part of the route so you are spoilt for things to see.
- This must be the best way to sight see around Paris
- Amazing route – all traffic free
- Slick race organisation
- Good medal and tech t-shirt
- Massive race day atmosphere with good crowd support
… And The Cons
- Dire toilet situation at the start
- Aid stations are light on fuel (mostly just fruit provided)
- It’s pricey – about €100 for an overseas entry
- Medical certificate required regardless
- Accommodation in central Paris will set you back a few quid! (for a tiny room)
But let us not end on a negative.
This is a unique and beautiful race. And the post marathon cuisine makes you quickly forget any aches and pains.