Paris Marathon 2011

dsc04107Mile 24 – Wine stop!!

Yvonne Turner 4.14.21
Mark Squire 4.53.44
Helen Squire 5.06.05

We three went to Paris on a trip organised by Des Evans of Newquay Road Runners – and what fun it was!

Mark picked me up from Sennen and we all went to Newquay to catch the coach to Plymouth for the 10.30pm ferry to Roscoff. Cabins had been booked so a good nights sleep for some was on the cards. It was a smooth ferry crossing and at 8am French time we disembarked and go back on the coach for the long drive to Paris.

There were only 30 on the coach trip and so there was lots of space to stretch out. Des had organised a variety of quizzes to keep us occupied during the seven hour drive to Paris.

Time flew by and soon we were in Paris and registering for the marathon. A quick look around the expo and then it was onto the hotel. After unpacking and showering it was off to find a restaurant to eat. Half the coach ended up at the Hippo – a chain of steak/burger outlets – but it was good food. And then off to bed.

dsc03991The next day was a relaxing one – Rob, the coach driver, gave us a tour of Paris and we stopped off for an hour at Sacre Coeur and then he dropped us off at the Eiffel Tower for everyone to do as they pleased. Some walked back to the hotel, I took a riverboat tour along the Seine and then fell asleep in the park by the Eiffel tower – a very relaxing afternoon! That evening was a pasta-loading session at the local Italian and then off to bed as the coach was leaving at 7.30am the following morning and breakfast had to be had first.

Breakfast was a free-for-all! The hotel had over 200 rooms and seats in the breakfast room for about 20! They ran out of teabags, there was cold pasta (left over from the night before!) the coffee-machine stopped working and so did the fruit juice machine. Not a good start to the day.

And so everyone made the coach for the marathon at 7.30am (very close for Steve and Victoria as the coach was pulling away with them running after it!). The coach parked just down from the Arc de Triomphe which was near both the start and finish line and so an ideal position.

And so to the start….. Paris Marathon is not like London, there are a handful of portaloos and so you have to go into the cafe bars to use their toilets, quite civilised really. Getting into the pens was an art – just trying to find a break in the barriers was the first test and then getting past the marshal who looked at your number and then said “non” and pointed elsewhere. Finally I found a way in and waiting for the race to start. It took over 10 minute to cross the start line – good job we had timing chips.

I decided before the race that I was going to go sightseeing as I ran round and so I took my camera. I wasn’t bothered about a time, I’d just gone to enjoy myself and so I did!!

dsc04021I took about 50 photos from start to finish – most likely could have knocked about 10 minutes off my time if I didn’t do that – but I didn’t care – the views were amazing. Starting along the Champs des Elysees just down from the Arc de Triomphe and working my way around Paris passing the Bastille, Chateau de Vincennes, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, running along the Seine, through some beautiful parks – it was gorgeous!

Most of the streets in Paris were tree-lined and this gave some protection from the very, very hot sun. Temperatures were high and runners was falling by the wayside all along the way. Most of them looked like Swiss – wrapped up like turkeys and left under hedges along the route waiting for the ambulance to pick them up.

There were no barriers holding back the spectators and people were crossing the road with suitcases, on scooters, a bloke on roller skates was going along with the runners – it was unbelievable!

Water and feed stations were every three miles – water, raisins, sugar lumps, orange segments and bananas. Lids weren’t taken off the water and it was a fight to get to the tables which were only on one side of the road. By the time the 4.30 runners were going through a lot of the water stations were empty as the earlier runners had taken a couple of bottles each due to the heat. There were showers along the route to try and cool down the runners – but the weirdest thing was that there was a sponge given to everyone as registration which you are meant to take with you to the race?and dip into the buckets at the sponge stops – except no-one told us about that and most of the sponges were left back in the hotel rooms!!

I saw a few runners from Cornish clubs who weren’t on the coach trip – Carn Runners, Tamar Trotters, St Austell Runners. I said hello to all I saw and had a chat to some.

At about mile 23 the first wine station came into view – apple juice at one end of the table and wine at the other – I worked my way along the table. At mile 24 the next wine stop was looming, this was much smaller, just a round table with a woman in French local dress pouring wine out of?a bottle (the previous stop was out of boxes). I had my photo taken with her (see above), downed the wine and then carried on running about a 100 metres before I realised that I’d left my water bottle back on the table so I had to run back (any excuse!)

And so to the finish – the route had a few mile markers on it but mainly it was in kilometers and so I was counting down to 42km. I was really enjoying myself, taking in the sights, chatting to people and then the finish line loomed and I crossed it in 4.14.21 – I was happy with that as I was running well within myself and put myself under no pressure to try and get under 4 hours.

The finish area was chaos – once you’d picked up your t-shirt, drink, banana, medal it was then try and get out of the cage – people were pouring in with pushchairs trying to get to the meeting area (Paris must be the only area with A-Z on both sides so no-one knows where to meet anyone!) an ambulance was trying to get out, runners were trying to get out, some were climbing over the fencing – I finally made it out of the cage and to the coach. Bliss!

dsc04171The faster runners who had finished either walked back to the hotel or got the Metro. I went back on the coach and then it was a quick turnaround as we had to be at the restaurant for our celebratory dinner by 6pm. A brilliant night was had by all as all food and drink was included in the price.

Two couples on our coach decided to get engaged after the marathon – one couple after the race under the Arc de Triomphe and the other after the evening meal. Celebrations all round!

The next day we all got on the coach at 9.30am and were taken to a hotel in Brittany for a relaxing evening. The hotel had a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, running machine – it was lovely and the food was good too.

After?a leisurely run the next morning to the local village at Concarneau and then breakfast it was back on the coach for a trip to Roskoff to look around the town before we departed on the ferry at 4.30pm and back to Cornwall.

I’d do the race again – it was great (I don’t think Mark or Helen would use that word though!)

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