It took me ten years to run first international marathon. But so glad I choose Paris Marathon as the inaugural run. The experience was electric, really amazing, and runtastic.
There are several common trends observed after running San Francisco, Sacramento, Napa Valley, and Big Sur marathons over the past years. So I’m taking this opportunity to share what I liked about the race, and what could possibly be improved. Some of this feedback may be tinted as I’ve only run marathons in the USA only so far.
Paris Marathon – The Good
- Cheerleaders: Number of spectators through out, literally through out, the course was definitely the best part of the race. And there were ~250,000 of them. Men, women, families, and so many little kids stretching their hands out and waiting for high-five, really kept the runners motivated.
- Attractions: How many races go through tourist spots like Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Seine? OK, to be fair, San Francisco has Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, Napa Valley has vineyards lined through out, and Big Sur runs along Highway 1 next to Pacific. In addition, how many races can claim to start and finish at a beautiful venue like Arc de Triomphe?
- Mile markers: Mile markers were done really right. They were tall, big bold numbers, and nicely stretched on a frame instead of fluttering flags. They could possibly withstand wind and rain, although the weather was very cooperative. Another important aspect was that there were mile markers, in addition to KM markers. This made it really helpful for the US runners as we are more used to former.
- Music: ~100 local bands were playing through out the race. There were very few moments that the music could not be heard.
- Corrals: With 50,000 runners (35% outside France and from 183 countries), the corrals were very well organized on Champs de Elysees. The corrals were starting with 3 hour pace, 15 minutes apart, and closed ~15 mins before their start.
- Paris Fire Department was sparing water using their hose at several points through out the course. Anybody running a marathon can appreciate the importance of that when the temperature is ~55-60F.
- Expo: This was the biggest expo with ~200 booths. It even had a 80m (CHECK) running track to try out new running shoes. There were plenty of clothes, running gear, accessories, etc. All the runner’s name were printed on a wall, and that was quite a crowded destination for everybody.
Paris Marathon – Areas of Improvement
- 436,497 number of plastic bottles with almost a million liters water were handed throughout the course. Based upon my personal observation, ~30% of the water was wasted. California is going through fourth year of drought, and there are several countries with severe water shortage. Hey, these places can take all the water! And plastic, really? Use paper glasses, runners and mother nature would love you for ever.
- Sports drinks (Powerade) were offered only once during the entire course. Plain water does not supplement the electrolytes lost during the race and so they should be offered at each water stand, in addition to water. That’s what I’ve experienced in all the US races so far.
- Water stations were at ~5k. This is fine for the first 15 miles, but they need to more frequent in the later miles.
- Pre-cut bananas were offered at each water stand. But banana peels and cobble stone do not make a good combination. Pre-peeled would be preferred.
- Finishers shirt was given after the finish line. It should instead be given at the Expo as that is more convenient.
- Only a limited number of food stalls were at the Expo. And also no place to hydrate.
- Communication on the pacing strategy with the pacer was futile as they didn’t know how to speak English.
This race made me create a new bucket list item, and that is to run a marathon in all seven continents. North America and Europe are now checked, lets see which one will be the next one.
I also like the idea of Conference Driven Marathon as suggested in the following tweet:
@arungupta you’re trying to promote a new acronym: CDM (Conference driven marathons) ?
— Guillaume Scheibel (@g_scheibel) April 12, 2015
Lets see which conference is going to align their schedule with a marathon. Conference organizers, game on 😉
You are definitely missing out if you’ve never run this race. Its a big race, go run it!