Run the City of Love: Paris Marathon

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Ooo la la! The city of love…also known as Paris which is at the heart of France. Did you know Paris hosts one of the largest full marathons in not only Europe but also in the world? This year the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris had 55,000 registered runners from across the globe. According to the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), Paris boasts a third place in marathons throughout history with greater than 30,000 finishers, just behind New York and Chicago.

Is a dream of yours to compete in a big marathon? Are you not exactly at Boston Qualifier pacing, or have you entered lotteries for maybe one of the world majors and have been disappointedly rejected time and time again? Well, if you are wanting that big race feel, Paris has got your back. Ranked by Runners World as one of the top 10 fastest marathons in the world, the Paris Marathon gives everyone the opportunity to register. How awesome is that? No pre-qualifying time restrictions, no lottery, no rejection, that is unless you are too slow to register before the cutoff where some procrastinators may falter. That gives all of you an equal chance to grab one of those 55,000 places.

And with the 2018 Paris Marathon having just completed a couple weeks ago at the beginning of April, I would not hesitate to finally execute that trip next year to visit one of the most beautiful, romantic, delicious, and now athletics cities in the world. Paris in April is a no-brainer; where the transition to spring has begun with temperatures averaging 16C/61F and flowers in bloom, you’ll experience the quiet lull just before the tourist summer rush. Runcations are my favorite type of vacations!

Champs Elysees

And what better way to experience all the architecture and history of this enchanting city but with your own two feet on a 42.2 kilometer course. Known as being relatively flat for much of the first half of the race, you’ll start at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées making your way along to Place Concorde, then eventually passing Bastille, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Chateau de Vincennes, Hotel de Mairie, run along the River Seine, and, of course, the iconic Eiffel Tower. You’ll eventually finish on Avenue Foch with the Arc de Triomphe as your final destination. This running tour of the city is pretty spectacular as you get free reign of car-free roads, some cobblestoned, along with the support of a city and 55,000 runner’s families and friends to cheer you on along the way!

If you ultimately decide to take on Paris you can sign up here. Now I’ll briefly provide a rundown of what to expect marathon weekend.

Expo

The expo is held at Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles where it will be necessary to have a medical certificate in order to retrieve your bib and goodie bags. A big sponsor of the race is Asics but you’ll also find hundreds of other big names and local vendors in the huge venue. You should expect to spend over an hour inside.

Pre-Race Preparations

For your pre-race dinner, you should make reservations, especially if you have a crew of supporters with you, as most restaurants are small in size and fill up quickly on Saturday evenings. You’ll have plenty of options for whatever your heart desires cuisine-wise, but expect a wait or to not get served at all if you forget to reserve.

Transportation

A Sunday morning start makes for no difficulty to access public transportation. You will find getting to the start to be incredibly easy by metro. The elite start around 8:45 am with approximately an hour and a half in between until the last wave crosses the start.

Fueling

Water stops occur every 5km and the volunteers pass out small plastic water bottles, a bonus if you want to take an additional to carry. There are limited electrolyte or food supplies accessible on the course, so take that into consideration with fueling yourself, especially if the day happens to be warmer than average. Also, there are minimal port-o-potties along the course route, so take that as a small warning.

Course Difficulties

You will find relatively flat ground until you start to make your way along the River Seine. Here you will find several rolling hills into and out of the tunnels that lie parallel to the river for about 5 km. With field sizes of huge proportions, expect to still have some weaving to do in these smaller spaces.

Post Race Suggestions

At the finish line, it will be insanely crowded and difficult to find family or friends. Also, with the number of people expect cell phone service to be spotty. It is highly suggested to have a pre-plan in motion for meeting up with supporters at the end of the race.

Paris Marathon

Once you’ve crossed that finish line, grab your medal, finisher’s shirt, bag, if inclined a beer, and grab your finisher’s photo in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Getting home is painless, except walking down the stairs to the metro, as they will be free to get you back to your accommodations.

You will have plenty of post-race options for fuel reloading, but remember it’s a Sunday and most shops (marches, pharmacies, any retail) will be closed as this is the culture of France. Then it’s time to celebrate. May I suggest croissants, wine, and cheese?

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