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Dalbeattie 10K Half Marathon 2016

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Frank's Valentine Run 2017

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Criffel Hill Race 2017

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Semi-Marathon de Paris

08/03/2017

Anne and Sean's story of Paris.

The first half marathon we ever ran was the Semi-marathon de Paris in 2011, and we've done it every year since. 

After 6 years of practice we're pretty good at the cheap flights and the Metro, the bargain accommodation with the easiest journey on race morning, the Irish pub that shows the football and our favourite supermarkets for food!
The course starts in a huge park called the Bois de Vincennes (easy by Metro) and heads up and into the city, passing the Bastille and along the Seine towards Notre Dame before coming back into the Bois on the other side. Changes to the route this year saw us running through several underpasses below roads where you could see runners at different stages of the race, loop over above, it was quite impressive.

The race is well organised with many marshals, Pacers, regular food and water stations and loads of roadside entertainments from musicians and drummers. Thousands of spectators line the whole route and, as your name is printed on your race number, you often hear people cheer you on by name, which is surprisingly encouraging!

The enormous numbers of runners (40,000 entrants) are made more manageable by a staggered start. They put you in a corral based on your estimated finish time and set each corral off at a particular time, so the elite racers started at 9am but our section at 9:15. The last section didn't start until 10am. Even with this it's very crowded at the start (tip1: go in the middle of the road or you get shunted out, the edges go slower and have more obstacles, barriers, kerbs etc to deal with) and once the gridlock opens out there isn't a point in the race where you aren't surrounded by runners. It's important not to be in a section that's too slow for you or the frustration of trying to dodge around people could cause you to bust a blood vessel! 

(tip 2: pass people on the left not the right - must be because the roads are the other way around. If you want past and someone hasn't noticed you, you touch their left shoulder and they move)

This year the weather was cold, wet and a bit windy, but you don't really notice that once you get going. The worst thing was that in some of the underpasses there was no way to avoid giant puddles going right across the roads.

Every 5k there is a race arch and time belt over the road, with cameras including videos. If you're so minded in the days after the race you can buy actual video of yourself passing each 5k point - some of us prefer not to be reminded!

(tip 3: try not to look too ghastly while passing the 5k points)

Soon after the time arches are feed stations with water, sports drinks, bananas, oranges, sugar lumps and raisins. On the other side of the street 100m later are lines of giant bins with signs above them 'Je cours, je bois, je trie!' (I run, I drink, I throw) and it's a good idea to be on the opposite side or you risk being hit on the head by flying fruit peel or half empty bottles!
Every km is marked by huge signs, which is great when you're going well but gets more depressing the more tired you are, as they seem to stretch apart further and further...

The layout of the course means as you turn a corner and pass 20km you can actually see, far off in the distance (and by this time the rain was quite heavy), the blue finishing arch at 21.1km. What a long final strait! It does help you pick up the pace though, and the finish line is positively festive, with music and confetti. Over the few hundred metres after the finish line they herd you gently onwards to prevent bottlenecks and marshals provide you with plastic ponchos, medals, sweets, water and fruit. This was easily the worst part of the whole thing - normally it's quite jovial and everyone is really happy, but on Sunday the rain and wind cooled us all down almost immediately and by the time we reached the tent for the left luggage I was shivering and miserable. The day after a half marathon you expect your legs to be stiff and a bit sore, this time it was my jaw from the teeth-chattering! Results are on the website almost as fast as people are finishing and the wee personalised tags with your finishing time that fit into your medal can be ordered retrospectively if you decide you want it to be remembered

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