On 14th April 2019 I took part in the Paris Marathon as an official pacer. As always I’m writing my review of the event on the day, whilst its fresh. My legs may be aching, but I had an amazing time. This was the second time I ran the Paris Marathon, the first time in 2015 was my second international marathon, and wasn’t a great experience. This was back when I was taking on sub 3, and didn’t manage it. I blew up in 2015 and achieved a 3:30, something inward very disappointed with at the time.
A lot has changed since then. Today marked my 46th marathon, and 53rd towards the 100 marathon club. It was also my 69th race as an official pacer, and 19th marathon I have paced. Some great stats that I’m proud of, and for me the event started on Friday as I arrived to collect my bib.
I picked up my race number and had a little look around the expo. It’s a big expo, and better than most I’ve been to, but lacking on things I would buy compared to London. I did pick up some nutrition for race day though.
Paris Breakfast Run
On the Saturday morning I met with the French Pace team for the first, as we made our way to the Paris Breakfast Run. I won’t say much about it here, as I have written a separate blog which you can see HERE. In short it is a slow controlled run where the Pacers control at the front, and it’s more of a sightseeing tour around Paris. A great experience for me, but will be marmite for those in the middle. If you want to have a nice jog and take photos you will love it, if you wanted to race then stay at home.
After the Breakfast Run I ran back with the Pacers where they did a fly by through the expo. Basically they ran through with flags, taking photos, we were in and out within 15 minutes before we went home. Lots of fun.
Later on in the day we had a Pacer photo with Asics at the expo.
It was a little strange having the English guys in different kit, but it was nice all the same.
I had some fun with the Pacers and spent some time with Phil and Janet which was nice.
After the expo I just went back to my hotel. By this time I had done about 25k steps both Friday and Saturday which is not ideal, so I just laid in bed to rest before the Pacer Meal.
Later we met as a team for a Pacer meal and to get final instructions.
I enjoyed a nice beer and good company. I was surprised of how quickly Phil got stuck into the beer until I realised what it was called.
Before going to bed I checked my kit one last time.
Paris Marathon 2019
Race morning had arrived and we had an early start with a 05:30 breakfast. I had forgotten my usual porridge so I didn’t have the best of starts. We then made our way as a team via the metro to the start. We were massively early, but it was to be able to get a photo before any of the starts.
It was deserted when we arrived, and very cold. We had over 2 hours to wait for our starts, but sometimes this is part and parcel of being a pacer. We waited until about an hour before our start before stripping off and going to the pens. I was instructed to go to the back with the back pacer.
When there the English speaking runners gravitated towards me, and before long I was along with the sub 4 #funbus.
It was a lovely setting to start in. A huge start, reminds me most of Berlin Marathon. They have slow waves to ease congestion, but these were slower than advertised. I was expected to start at 09:20, but I actually started about 09:50. This isn’t too bad, but it was very cold.
Then we were off. It was fantastic running on such wide open roads. You start on cobbles and there are a few sections to take steadily because of the cobbles. I immediately set into desired pace at around 09:05 min miles. I was wearing both a mile and km pace pocket, and there were accurate markers at every km and mile, which is great for keeping the pace right. Every 5km the chip time is picked up.
There were some great sights along the way, and I kept a steady conversation going with about a dozen runners who stayed with me. Lots of people jumped on and off the #funbus but a handful stayed from start to finish.
It is always looking back at some of the selfies to see all the smiling faces looking back at me. This is why I pace.
I kept the pace steady. Usually I get a bit of a cushion to allow for markers, but I found that I was having to run slightly faster to just hit target, so I just stayed with it, and held a steady pace. The course is wide like Berlin, but more undulating. It has better crowd support than Berlin, however there are lots of long stretches without much support from crowds. But it never feels quiet, with almost 60k runners it is a huge race, far bigger than London. It feels busy on the course from start to finish which has both pros and cons.
The water stations are a little crazy with people darting and stopping all over the place. It really was not necessary as there was so much water, and in bottles. However they also had fruit and often people were going in for water and finding fruit which added to some of the congestion. The first water station was at 7km and then they were frequent every 5km. I just used water and my cliffbar shotblocs.
The course is mostly awesome with some spectacular views. There are a couple of parks that are long and quiet, and you come to under passes which go into tunnels and the longest was dark and led to a lot of congestion, although it only slowed my group by 20 seconds.
There were a few congestion points which was led by spectators. As usual the spectators took over a lot of the course, at one point you couldn’t see the racing line as the spectators were over it. Unlike London that gets packed, this was mostly not necessary as there was plenty of room behind them. There could also be better crowd control. There were so many people running with family, and at one point a bike darted out in front of us and we almost crashed.
Overall though I was very happy with the marathon. I finished in 3:30 in 2015 and was unhappy. Today I guided many runners around in a steady consistent pace and we arrived in an official time of 3:59:49.
Paris was a blast, and I would love to go back if invited again. Some great runners, and a lovely experience.
I feel like I’ve done Paris Justice, and will end this blog the way I started it.
What’s next for everyone? I’m doing London in 2 weeks, all aboard the sub 4 #funbus.