On Sunday April, 7th, 2013, I ran the 37th Paris Marathon with my friend Chty. That was the third time I ran this race. My first time was in 2007, as my first official marathon, then in 2011, and 2013.
That was a fine day, and the 38.690 runners who crossed the finishing line had a nice sunny weather all along the race. The temperature rose from 0⁰C (32⁰F) in the morning up to 8⁰C (48⁰F) at midday. It was nearly ideal conditions.
The Paris Marathon
The Paris marathon is the sixth biggest marathon in the world in number of participants. 50.000 runners register, but often only 80% of them start the race. In 2013, 39.967 person were present for the departure, 38.690 of whom crossed the finishing line, only about 1.300 runners were unfortunate and gave up.
First of all, I must admit the organization is very impressive and effective, but still, I am kind of shocked by the price increase of the registration those last years. It was 65€ for the 8.000 first subscribers, then 80€ for the following 12.000, 95€ for the next 20.000 and 110€ for the last 6.000. In 2007, I paid 53€ for the basic price, 23% less whereas the inflation has only been of 10% between 2007 and 2013. Moreover, with the 2013 edition, the first 8.000 tickets were sold out in a few hours, and you had to be on the website, constantly clicking to get a chance to connect and buy the cheapest rate, as the website kept being down due to overloaded servers. A colleague of mine waited 1 hour more than me and thus paid 80€! I can perfectly understand better prices for early subscribers to help the organization of the race, but when all tickets are sold in a few hours, this becomes a business strategy and this is sad. I frankly believe I will not run this race again, the organization is fine, but I do not think it is worth more than 60€…
Regarding the race itself, there were plenty of food supplies, one every 5 kilometers with sugar, bananas, oranges and water. But, for the price we paid, we would have liked to have more toilet cabins in the starting area (more than two anyway!), and likely 10 times more on the way, unless if nobody is disturbed when runners urinate everywhere because all the available cabins are occupied…
The departure in several waves was a real good point for the 2013 edition, this was a real plus to be able to start with your adequate pace from the beginning. In the previous races, everybody was departing at the same time, so up to the fifth kilometers the road was crowded and you had to struggle to run correctly.
The weather was cold on the morning of April, 7th, less than 0⁰C (32⁰F), and I must admit I was really cold on my motorbike at 6am on my way to Paris to join my friend Chty at his flat in the 11th arrondissement. We departed from his place a quarter before 8am and jogtrotted to the nearest metro station. Once in our 3h30 sas, we had to keep our warmth as we could during the half hour left before the start. We had to wait with the new wave departure this year and and we finally crossed the starting line 11 minutes later.
After a few kilometers I was already below 5 minutes per kilometer (about 8 minutes per mile). My friend Chty who had a tibia injury, preferred me to go on without him, as he was not sure to keep the pace.
I did not stop at the first food stand at Bastille, on the fifth kilometer. I had enough water and cereal bars to keep up to the next food supply at the tenth kilometer. I drank regularly, a sip every ten minutes, I always kept a small bottle in my hand. I ate a cereal bar, or a piece of banana every half hour. I could not really eat more, or else I’d get pain in my stomach. I can’t bear energy gels either. You need to know the limits of your organism to race long distance!
I realized that I was fine. I did not train intensely for this marathon, but I managed to keep my pace of 4 minutes 50 seconds per kilometer (7min45 per mile). There were several slow downs, when the road narrowed at the exit of the Bois de Vincennes for instance and at some tight turns inside Paris. That was the opportunity to eat something and catch my breath.
I managed to keep my pace up to the 32nd kilometer (about 20 miles) without any major pain except for a big blister under my left foot. However, it got more difficult, I lacked some long distance training and my legs were loosing their strength. I did not run enough long distance sessions during my training and my last 30 kilometers (20 miles) was in December 2012. I should have run at least once per month…
So, I finished as I could, pacing down, but I managed to finish in less than 3 hours and 30 minutes, with an official time of 3 hours, 28 minutes and 42 second, that was about 5 minutes less than my best time, that was not so bad!
Leaving the marathon village after the race is always tedious and long. First, it is so crowded, but I ate one apple, drank something, took my medal, got my finisher tee-shirt. All the spectators created a big jam at the exit and I was a bit frustrated that they could not understand that the more they try to be closer, the harder it would be to find anyone in the crowd.
I slowly (very slowly) walked the two kilometers before our meeting point and waited for my friend. He was not fortunate and had to walk for the last 7 kilometers because of his leg… We got back to his place and debriefed the race…
I would likely not do the Paris marathon again because of the increasing price which is not justified, but still, I will keep a nice souvenir of this 2013 edition!