I apologize if I lose you in this long review, but it’s hard to leave anything out.
Expo nicely organized, but too few vendors selling marathon specific items. How could you not capitalize on a minimum of 50k people (registered runners) plus their family and friends and not have novelty merchandise to sell? I remember the first time I visited Paris and stumbled upon the expo by mistake. I went in and saw a lot of marathon merchandise and bought a headband for the race I wasn’t even running in. 24 years later and no headband/hat/beanie/scarf/socks etc...with the marathon referenced! Mon dieu! What a missed opportunity and really disappointing for me as I was ready to drop some serious euros to show off my Parisian marathon love.
Enough of the expo and onto the main event...transportation was easy. Finding how to get into your corral was HARD. Maybe because I’m petite, but I could not see over the crowd to find the entrance for the life of me. I pushed along like everyone else and someone had knocked over one of the guard rails which created an entrance and I went for it. I ended up in the 3:45 corral and once in a corral it was easier to move into the right one. Get there early if you plan on getting settled in before the gun goes off, especially when you read the next paragraph. I left two hours early.
So I’m thinking I’m pretty golden now and just sitting on the ground listening to the great music they were blaring when I noticed the porta potty line. Hmmm...one porta potty every few yards. How’s that going to work for 50k runners? Oh wait, I see now...out in the open are these quad urinals for the men. Wow, I was seriously in awe. They don’t have that in the states. As much as I thought it was efficient, I wasn’t sure if I needed to see that. Now going back to efficiency or lack there of, that one porta potty every few yards to meet the women’s needs was not working. Long story short, there was a lot of public squatting in those corrals. EVEN as the runners started running! YES.
As that was going down I think the most memorable part of the start was this clap they do to get everyone excited. It was so awesome and so French that I wanted to bottle it and release bits of it every time I start a run. Amazing to see the sea of people along the Champs Elysees. It was electric, like Schneider Electric!
The crowds, volunteers, and musicians were fantastic! The aid stations were well stocked and managed. I’ve never run a race where they hand out full water bottles and thought what a mess that will be for the clean up crew. However, they had coordinated the disposal so well that you didn’t see bottles strewn all over the place. Great job on their part.
As for the course, well what I could remember of it (not good to run jet lagged), it was beautiful and flat. The most notable difference running this race vs one in the states is how little the runners walked and how unplugged they were. Most ran all the way and most didn’t have headphones on. You do not want to miss all the cheering and “allez” along the way.
Final thoughts as the finish line appeared, relief and a sense of overwhelming accomplishment. I’ve run a lot of marathons but never internationally. I went alone and found my way there and back safely. Not one to toot my horn, but this time, I will say that it took some guts to do it that far way and I’m going to wear my bada$$ race shirt til it dies. Viva la France!!!