Report by Ellen Lavin
Last Friday a group of us headed to Paris for the Paris to Versailles 16k road race. Paul, Breda Walsh and I (plus two people from my French class) travelled together from Dublin to Charles De Gaulle. Ray had already arrived early having flown from Lisbon via Beauvais. He got busy sampling the local produce while waiting for us to arrive. Trevor and Judith flew up from Carcassonne whilst Sean and Jill were already in situ as he was attending college on the far side of the city.
Once we had arrived and met up with the rest of the running party we headed for the pub adjacent to the hotel and then on to a nearby Bistro for dinner. At this stage we were joined by Eileen and her Finance John, to whom she had recently become engaged. The ring was thoroughly inspected for authenticity and a great night was had by all. Eileen was very impressed when John and herself were serenaded by Bernie from the French quarter.
Saturday morning we were up and ready to head to the Expo. We presumed we had to be there early to get pins, however, there were none.. the French obviously think we are all magnetic offering only our paper number. Were there any freebies? None, they don’t do that either apparently. I was obviously spoiled in Lisbon. While Jill and Breda went in search of a haberdashery the rest of us ensconced ourselves outside a cafe for coffee and croissants, courtesy of Judith, merci beaucoup. Some sightseeing followed then back to the hotel and out to dinner as some sustenance was required for the race the following morning.
Sunday morning we all met in the hotel lobby for the official photo. It took us approximately 10 mins to walk to the start line which was under the Eiffel Tower. This is when the magnitude of the race really took hold. 25,000 + runners all lining up along the river Seine with such an iconic structure as the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Paul and Ray were well positioned to battle it out as were Trevor and Judith. Sean, Breda and I opted to wait for the 30th wave. It was very cold so we enjoyed hot chocolate courtesy of Sean. In fact the vendor wanted to put a shot of whiskey in each but we decided not to drink and run, the adrenaline was enough lol!
The course took us along the banks of the Seine and through the Andre Citroën Tunnel. This was the flat part of the race. The website had displayed a map describing a climb of over 2k. Seeing it on screen was one thing but running up it was quite another. Although there was plenty of support along the route from the locals, it was the brass bands usually situated at the top of a long hill that was a welcome distraction. There was a change in terrain as we turned onto Route Royale and entered the forest. This road was mostly paved and some people opted to run on the grass. This was going to take us to Avenue de Paris that leads to the Palace.
Jill was at the finish with a green balloon hoisted above her head and a fantastic picnic in a satchel that reminded me of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, an endless bounty of food was produced from it. It’s no wonder we all recovered so well. We headed to the Village for coffee and so the dissection of the race began.
It was a great race… with great company… in a great city.
Paul Cassidy – 1.20.39
Ray Carpenter – 1.21.35
Judith Lloyd – 1.31.47
Trevor Lloyd – 1.33.03
Sean O’Byrne – 1.41.00
Ellen Lavin – 1.41.00
Breda Walsh – 1.43.51