Reasons to Run (& Not Run) the Paris Half Marathon
Paris is a city known well for history, food, and beauty, but probably not so well known for athletic competitions like its European neighbors in Athens, Berlin or London. That is why I am here to provide the pros and cons of running a half marathon in the romantic city of Paris. Specifically, the FitBit Semi de Paris. Let us begin with cons, getting the bad stuff out of the way first. Shall we?
The Cons of Running the FitBit Semi de Paris
The price tag that comes with running in one of the most beautiful cities in the world comes at a surprisingly high cost. Paying up to 65€ for registration is 2 to 3 times higher than some of the surrounding countryside neighborhood runs. In fact, some European full marathons are the same price (ie: Rome). Besides the price of registration, one also has to consider travel and accommodation costs as you will at least need to stay one night to retrieve your bib if you are not a local. Which brings me to my next negative point…
Bib Pick Up
Bib retrieval is only allowed at the expo site in the eastern part of Paris at Park Floral de Paris in Bois de Vincennes park, up to two days before the race with no accessibility to pick up the day of the race. For out of towners, this can create a bit of frustration and extra financial hardships in order to participate.
Throughout the 21.1 kilometers of the race course, there are several aid stations about 5 km apart with substantial access to water, fruits, snacks, salts and even cola. However, the one essential long distance running need, electrolytes, are often not found at these aid stations. The best solution to make sure you are prepared for race day is to pack your own Gus or energy blocks, as relying on the race course may hurt your energy or outcome.
With over 36,000 plus finishers in the 2018 FitBit Semi de Paris, this half marathon boasts a large participation field. They are strict to corral starts so you best make sure you signed up according to your appropriate finish times because the pack is strong and stays strong throughout the entire race. If you don’t like being hit by an elbow, weaving between runners or hitting the breaks every time you approach an aide station, this large race may not be for you. But do not let all these negatives deter you, if this type of crowd gets your gears grinding maybe you will find the positives of running in the Paris Half in the pros section which is next.
The Pros of Running the FitBit Semi de Paris
As mentioned above, this race had in fact 36,510 finishers in total this year. With that number, a race has to be organized. From the numerous volunteers, vendors, and emergency responders throughout the course, you can find someone to assist you if you have any questions. There is a decent sized expo with a collectors technical t-shirt included in the entry fee. The buzz at the start is exciting and energizing. With large numbers of participants, you can expect large crowd support as well which brings me to my next positive point.
Lots of Support
From beginning to end, you can expect to be cheered on throughout the streets of Paris. There is nothing quite like someone cheering you with the background of Notre Dame Cathedral and the River Seine running parallel to you. The feeling you get from people calling out, “Allez” to “Bravo” may help you briefly forget the pain from the pounding you are putting yourself through. Plus, if your friends and family came out to support you, they will also not be disappointed to take in a croissant and café latte at one of the many street-lined cafés.
Not only are you supported by thousands of people but you have some of the most perfect views to get you through some of your toughest moments. Starting and ending in the majestic Bois de Vincennes park, with acres of tree-lined roads, you will feel at peace with nature while stumbling your final steps to get a grand view of Château de Vincennes. Maneuvering out of the natural calmness, you make your way towards the River Seine and towards Bastille, up and around the typical French architecture and narrow roadways, past Notre Dame Cathedral and back along the river to head back to the eastern park. A little nature and a little city fill your spectating views along the 21.1km course, allowing you to take in some breathtaking scenery during the physical challenge.
Upon completion, you will be corralled another 200 meters to grab your victory medal. For 2018, the medal doubled as a bottle opener. And just to be sure of its value, I tested it and can say with absolute certainty that it works. In reality, you have now the opportunity to win two rewards, crossing the finish line and receiving bling that can double as a celebratory drink opener!