Paris perspectives: Paris Marathon race report

Monika, Amelia, Laura and Trevor were all part of the Harriers' Paris contingent this year.

17 Hoops ran the Paris Marathon last month. Instead of our usual race report format, with so many different stories to tell, we asked  our runners for their most vivid memories about the race: before, during and after.

Six months ago

Richard Byrne: My road to Paris began, like many others, on that day in October, when fate cruelly informed us that we would not be running The London Marathon the following spring. What to do instead? Manchester, Brighton, Edinburgh were all considered. Then came the flurry of activity about Paris. A few signed up. Then more. Whatever the collective noun for Hoops is, that was us.

Why not I thought? A quick check of the diary showed the marathon fell during the Easter break. Perfect, we could turn it into a bit of a jolly! And before I knew it I too had entered the Paris Marathon 2019, and was a member of the ubiquitous WhatsApp group.

Fast forward to the Christmas party, and the air was heavy with Paris talk. Would we be allowed to enter France in the event of a no-deal Brexit (try and stop us)? But more importantly, what training plan were people following? Having followed Hanson's for a successful half in Cardiff a few months earlier I was tempted to follow their marathon plan, as others were, but was unsure about the 'long' 16 mile run not being sufficient, so I opted for a more traditional plan instead, with the good old Sunday 20-miler included.

Training went well until about 11 weeks in, when I developed a calf injury, followed by an infection and a course of antibiotics. The combination meant I stopped all pace work five weeks before race day, and had two weeks off from training all together. With just easy running in the last week before the race I was on a revised time, hoping to come in at 3:45 from my original 3:25 goal. I hoped the 30 seconds per km reduction in pace would compensate for my lack of form.

Race day morning

Gez Medinger: It’s not exactly like Christmas morning when you’re seven years old, but it’s not far off. That feeling of repeatedly waking up whilst it’s still dark and thinking ‘is it time yet?’.

At 5.30am I gave up and got up. Made a coffee, ate a banana. Had recently heard of the ‘shakeout run’ concept. So put some clothes on and went out for one. La Defense is strange place at 5.45am on a Sunday morning. Met a young lady coming in from a night out in the foyer. “Bon soir,” she said. “Ah non, BonJOUR,” I replied.

It was cold. I was confused by this shakeout concept, so jogged around pointlessly for five minutes then came back. Had my shake, got my stuff together, packed up my bags and headed out to the metro at 7am. The metro was rammed with serious looking marathon people. I had no idea where the bag drop was, but there was a couple of Britishers who said you should get off at Argentine and walk from there to the finish. Got to the finish, finally found a way in and realised that it was 7.30am, the start was still an hour away and it was BLOODY FREEZING. My clothes had to come off now and get banished.

Gez's early morning start at the Paris Marathon bag drop.

Well, not much choice… time to get those legs out. And on balance, lets hang onto those gloves I was confidently not going to need… There’s also a peculiar feeling if you’re alone at the start of the marathon, at the point where you put your phone in your bag and drop it in bag drop. All that support, all that chat, all that connectedness…is gone. It’s just you now. You, your legs, and 26.2 miles ahead of you. Well, 26.2 plus the mile you’ve got to jog from here to get to the start.

Start to 10 miles

Sean Lightbown: After fighting through the crowds, Amelia, Melanie and I aimed for our four-hour pen, talking shop as the mass of runners drifted and eventually were sieved through the start line. We even bumped into someone from around the Queen's Park area, funnily enough, and had a nice chat. About anything other than what was about to happen, obviously.

I'd been fine before, but now the nerves were kicking in. I'd run a marathon before, about

seven years ago, and barely made it to the end. Since