Marathon season is here! With Manchester marathon last weekend, Paris and Brighton marathons this weekend, then Boston and London the following weekends. Nerves are racking up, the tapering is happening and final prep is being made.
I thought I would share my own advice for the Paris marathon after running it in 2014. It was one of my most frustrating marathons (I finished in 4.00.37) but also most fun as I ran almost all of it with a friend, you can read my race recap here. I’ve also asked friends, readers and fellow runners for their Paris marathon advice… I hope you find it useful if you’re running this weekend, know someone else running it or are thinking of taking on the French 26.2 in the future.
- Go to the loo at your hotel, or in a cafe, or at the bag drop by the Arc de Triomphe, do NOT wait until you get into your corral. There aren’t enough in each corral and you might end up missing your wave.
- Don’t forget to appreciate the view and take a photo of the Eiffel Tower as you run past – it’s around mile 18, just as you’re getting to work but it’s the most iconic image on the course so don’t miss it. (thanks for the tip Jo)
- Be careful at the aid stations, particularly the ones giving out bananas and oranges, they are crowded and chaotic – now is not the time to recreate that comedy sketch on the banana peel…
- Talking of aid stations, there is only water every 5Km which isn’t a lot if it’s hot – make sure to drink at every water station if it’s warm or consider running with your hydration pack if that’s what you’ve practiced with. It is often very sunny and quite hot, so don’t forget the sunnies and suncream. (great advice from Kirsty)
- There’s some eye candy in the form of fireman cheering on the course near the start (which I somehow missed) but Renee suggested to look out for them for an early pick-me-up.
- Be prepared for the course to be very crowded early on, there are between 40-50,000 runners and the overzealous crowds don’t have barriers, meaning they often merge onto the roads, narrowing the course. Don’t stress and use up too much energy weaving, it all spreads out around the 10K mark.
- If you’re not in an early wave, or not going for a particular time, then consider getting there after the race has actually started to avoid excess time on your feet and the aforementioned early crowding on the course.
- Mentally prepare for the dark tunnels and spectator free park near the end – this is the perfect time to pop your music in and get down to business! (thanks for the reminder of these Georgia)
- There’s a long walk after the finishing line to meet your friends and family, and often International phones won’t work. Arrange to link up with your spectators in a cafe on the Champs Elysee or back at your hotel to avoid stress – but don’t forget to take a photo with your medal and the Arc de Triomphe. (Tips from Robyn)
From a running fiend that’s completed the course 5 plus times, thanks Kerry:
On the Paris marathon expo– The Paris expo is not the best – although depends how many of these things you’ve been to I guess. But it’s not that huge. You can get round it in about 30 mins and not miss anything fun. There always seem to be stands from fun sounding marathons elsewhere in Europe though so make sure you go and collect some flyers for future inspiration.
On the loos at the start– There are not a whole lot in the race village beforehand (although there are SOME). They try to get everyone in there early doors so they always make sure there are enough- there are quite a few right at the end of the Champs Elysees by the Arch de Triomphe.
I asked if I was going to break my ankle on the cobblestones/at the aid stations– No but please slow down a lot through the fuel stations. You should do this anyway. Best way to stay out of trouble is to run thorugh the middle of the station, then veer in right at the end to pick up water or whatever it is you want. Then keep to the side and walk and sip for a few seconds before rejoining. The french, germans ands italians are not known for their manners during a race and they can sometimes barge past in tight spaces. But you’ll be fine.
Should I run with a pacer?- Mmmm, normally a good idea but I’D do your own thing this time. The pacers for Paris are variable depending on who you get and they can speed up and slow down instead of keeping to a steady pace. Don’t want to ruin your game plan. Not a patch on the RW London Marathon pacing team! (ADDED FROM CHARLIE – I SAW THE 4 HR PACER STEPPING OFF COURSE TO HAVE A WEE – NOT VERY RELIABLE!)
Any other useful information you can share? Check before you travel out there what the situation is with egerny drinks being given out. One of the big downsides about Paris in recent years is that gatorade have sponsored it and they for some reason have only give n out their product (half a small cup) at the 30km mark. Just water everywhere else. Those not in the know, turn up expecting tonnes of energy drinks and then crash and burn cos there is none. Check and if this is still the case make plans to carry your own.
Thank you so much to everyone who emailed to share their invaluable advice. If you’ve run Paris, or have any other tips to add, please do so. Ashley has made an awesome pinterest board with Paris Marathon race recaps here. I’ve also linked to a couple of my favourite recaps below;