When a group of us did not get the London Virgin Marathon 2016 ballot, we all decided to go for the Paris Marathon instead. I remember how much my family an I enjoyed the Edinburgh Marathon 2015. It was one of the many memories that we will always cherish. The beautiful scenery, culture and food. And I also wanted to experience if there are any difference in running in Paris versus in Edinburgh.
The Paris Marathon was set on the 3rd April 2016, if flying from Kuching. It would require a minimum of 18 hours flight including layover in Kuala Lumpur. We decided to take Malaysia Airlines (MAS) going to Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) airport. Unfortunately, after booking the ticket, MAS underwent a major restructuring. This meant that all previous routes to Europe was cancelled. Instead, we were all required to fly to London Heathrow and get a connecting to Paris CDG. Of course MAS paid for all the connecting flights.We flew in the Airbus A380, which was suppose to be comfortable. But, i guess the maintenance and the up-keeping of the plane was neglected. Nevertheless, we arrived safely to our destination, which was the important thing.
There were a total of 5 of us, but Frances had flew in earlier to visit her family . while Willie had take another flight from Singapore with his family. Thus, only George, Jessie and I were flying together. After going through airport customs and security check. We got our luggage and headed to the train and took the RER. It was easy to find our way since my family and I have been to Paris several times prior to this. We stayed at the
Lovely Marais Studio apartment 75 (situated at 62, Rue Quincampoix, 75004, Paris). The booking was made via booking.com. The apartment was nice and cosy. It sleeps 4 adults and we paid Euro 568 for 5 days 4 nights stay. It was well equipped.
It was also located at a very safe district. There are many pubs, eatery, restaurants situated nearby. Notre Dame was also just 10-15mins on foot away.
We dropped our luggage and headed to collect our race pack at Salon du Running – parc des Expositions; Porte de Versailles. It was one of the largest expo that I have been. It was a big as Tokyo Marathon Expo 2015-2016, and RunDisney Expo 2015. They have exhibitors from various brands and also information on marathons and ultras (road & trail) around Europe.If you intend to run in Europe, this expo is very informative.
On race day, we arrived early to Champ de Elysees, which will be the start and finishing point. The route is basically a loop around all the scenic places in Paris. Therefore, if you are not into speed or personal records, you can bring your camera and snap pictures along the way.
The route is nice to take photos, but is not nice to run. Why? Due to the cobble stone road at some of the race course. If you are not use to running on uneven ground. It will be a huge challenge, as there is potential to sprain your ankle if not careful.
We manage to snap a photo before going to our individual starting pen.
I was in the 4hrs starting group. Our flag off was scheduled at 9:40am. I found it a torture waiting at the starting gate because I entered early (by 9am). The participants where huge. In the staring pen area, they were ample portable toilets and the weather was nice and cool.
When the countdown began, the atmosphere was great. Everyone was hyped and ready to do their best.The first 1km was cobble stoned and down hill, I found it a bit hard to dash and break-free from the crowd when you are trying to watch your footing. The seasoned runners and Parisian did not seem to have this problem. I guess the roads in Malaysia (although is not as smooth as US, it was still better then Paris … hahaha). I manage to catch my pace once we passed the cobble stone section of the route. The spectators were good, but I still prefer the spectators in Japan. The supporters at certain sections of the route, (such as the park and the Seine riverbank) actually encroached into the runners pathway, which was very annoying. Imagine you are running on a 2 car lane road. Then suddenly, it will be come a single lane road and occasionally 1/2 a single lane road. The organizers did not have barricades along the whole route. To me this was disappointing, seeing that this was considered one of the major runs in Europe. I remembered that there where even cyclist cycling in the runners pathway in the park area. I suppose the elite runners and the sub 4 runners are not having this problem, as they would be very fast. I guess I need to run faster next time. hahaha.
Hydration during the race was the other major disappointment for me. They only serve bottled Vittel mineral water during the race. This was similar to Edinburgh marathon. And my mistake was that I did not bring any electrolytes with me, as I took for grated that it would be provided. That really taught me a valuable lesson. Bring your own gels and electrolytes in your races.
To make matters unsafe, the bottles where just discarded on the road where runners were running. Huge bins were provided, but I guess the focus was not to discard the unused bottle properly, but to just drink and throw. Luckily no one got hurt by tripping over one.
The weather did swing from 18-19degC to 24degC by 12 noon. the sudden change in temperature did affect my fluid consumption and running capability. I was starting to wonder why i wanted to run the Paris Marathon. hahaha, but then I turned to my left and saw the beautiful Eiffel Tower. The feeling was overwhelming, and gave me a gust of energy… Then again, it could be because I was approaching the finishing. I only manage to complete my run in 4:14hrs. Not as what I have hoped, but I can not complain. I enjoyed the scenery and the company of my friends there.
Would I go back the Marathon De Paris? The answer is no, I had enough of Paris. I would love to run Berlin Marathon or London. But, I love the food and beer in Paris.
Always Run Happy, Run Safe and Run Injury Free!