Last Sunday, in glorious sunshine that made it feel more like May than March, I got up, put on my trainers and…did not run the Paris Half Marathon. Sorry to disappoint. I did, however, go to the Chateau de Vincennes, where the race started and ended, and was really taken aback by what I found.
What with the weather, the crowd, the music blaring out of loud speakers and the seemingly endless queues for portaloos, it felt more like a festival than a half marathon. And with a backdrop like the Chateau de Vincennes, the atmosphere was fantastic.
Summed up nicely on the race website, the Paris half marathon “meanders along the avenues of the Bois de Vincennes wood, the boulevards and streets of the 12th arrondissement before entering the French capital’s city centre for a loop round the ‘Hôtel de Ville’ city hall.”
This year’s race was won by Vincent Yator of Kenya, who finished in 01:01:42. To put things into perspective, that’s a pace of roughly 10km in just half an hour. C’est dingue…
However, elite athletes made up just a segment of all participants. In fact, this year’s Semi-Marathon de Paris set a new participation record, with 35,314 people from 120 countries taking part.
While the participants were making their way into Paris and back out again, a friend and I did our own mini course around the very beautiful Parc Floral botanic gardens, just behind the Chateau de Vincennes.
What’s more, when I got back to my apartment, I realised that my street was actually on the route. About 5km from the finish line, my window therefore turned out to be a great spot to watch the runners as they made their way towards the home stretch.
Next month the full marathon, too, will go past my window. And again, the race is best described on the race website: “The marathon itself combines personal challenge with the chance to discover one of the world’s great cities. The athletes will pound the pavements of the French capital’s most famous avenues and plazas, from the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, where they take the start, towards the Place de la Concorde. From the Rue de Rivoli they’ll then sweep through the Place de la Bastille. After a glimpse of greenery in the Bois de Vincennes, views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower point the way home.”
Its funny, reading that almost makes me want to take part. But not quite.