Race report by Emmet Wardell
I swore when I finished the Dublin Marathon in 2016 that that was it, no more marathons until at least 2020. I managed to get through 2017 without getting sucked in (although very nearly did!) but with what seems like everyone these days grinding out 20 milers for fun, by the end of last year the urge to take on the big distance was once again getting real!! Long story short, in October last year me and one my mates signed up for the ‘spring’ Marathon in Paris on April 8th, 2018.
When you think spring marathons you imagine something idyllic. You imagine your midweek training done in lengthening evenings and nice mild weather and your LSR done in bright crisp mornings in the park. Wrong!! As my fellow spring marathons will attest to, the conditions have been challenging to put it eh, ‘mildly’! That said the training had actually gone pretty well – I enjoy the challenge of sticking to a (rough) training plan and ran more miles as part of this training cycle than I’d ever ran before. In theory at least, I was in good shape.
It was my second time to visit Paris and what a truly beautiful city. I was there for the rugby world cup in 2007 where my priorities were far from sightseeing (and even further from running!) so the beauty of the city somewhat passed us by on that occasion! The course itself is simply fabulous. It starts on the Champs Elysees with the Arc de trimphe as a backdrop, a pretty spectacular setting to begin a marathon on a warm and sunny spring morning. It takes in a number of the main sights (even if I did somehow miss the Eiffel tower!!) and from start to finish I found the route interesting and pleasant and fair. The race was very well supported, even if the Parisian’s didn’t drum up quite the same noise and atmosphere as the support here in Dublin.
In terms of my personal race experience, ehhh, it didn’t go so well!! I knew passing through half way, though while on pace, I was working too hard for each KM. The heat was definitely a factor and it was only when I passed through one of the big long tunnels which was lovely and cool did I realise how warm it actually was out there. By about 25km I knew a PB was out the window. And while pretty depressed to be that exhausted and that dehydrated and still have over ten miles to cover I managed to struggle on! There was some dark moments for sure but I did manage to enjoy the atmosphere over the closing kilometres. I had amazing support on the course too – a bit shout out to my sister and her friend Angela who came over to support (and take credit for the photos). A good friend of mine Clare Neenan (whose brother Gerard is a Sportsworld member and was also running) was there to give me a few shout outs too.
I knew about 15 or so people doing the race altogether but not many PBs were reported. That makes Adelie’s time of 3.23 for her second marathon a simply amazing achievement. Then consider the fact that her longest training run was only 22km!! An amazing effort – well done Adelie.
Paul Hamilton who has been running great came home in 3.33. From chatting to him in the pub afterwards he was moving very well up until the 36km mark when it seems the heat may have finally got him and cramps set in. Paul’s big aim for the year this year is Berlin and I have no doubt he will put together a cracking marathon then. Gerard Neenan ran 4.04 in his first marathon. I understand he forgot his watch though so had some pacing issues and may have taken off a little too fast! Still though a great effort for his debut over the distance.
The highlight of the weekend was at a restaurant off the Champs Elysees having on Monday. Washing down escargot, steak tartar and crème brulee with what can only be described as buckets of red wine my mate Rob Pearson (almost an honorary club member at this stage) – lovely!!! It couldn’t have been more French or more indulgent (although a tip here is to not look too closely at the snails before you eat them!)!! All in all, despite a disappointing effort time wise, my first foreign marathon was a truly memorable one. Will I run Dublin this year? Hopefully not but sure who knows! What I do know is that I am definitely looking forward to another adventure abroad for a race in the not too distant future.