“Beware of the Chair” – An Ultra Run, Beyond 126/
This traveling carnival of support cars and people begans as a journey to raise charity for the special Olympics. What I didn’t realise it was going to be a massive project, one which I was involved with almost every step of their way. I had to dig deep and pull out all my running skills from over 15 years of running.
They guys asked me to come along to help out because I had been a good source of running experience, but my ultra running is fairly modest – having only run a few ultras but done about 40 marathons.
The task was massive, simply run non-stop from Limerick to Dublin and cover the estimate 126 miles over more than 24 hours. In principal the idea was fairly simple, “you guys are like diesel cars – just keep putting fuel in the tank and do some basic maintenance – and you’ll make the distance.”
What I didn’t realize was that Mike and Brian and the crew would be turning to me every step of the way for advice and solutions. Don’t misunderstand my tone, because I loved every minute of the Challenge, but was pushed to exhaustion myself.
Furthermore, there was a film crew capturing every minute, every footstep of the challenge which meant I spent a good deal of time infront of the camera (which I am a bit camera shy).
Its easy to forget about the miles these guys had put in befor the run. Early 6am training runs, followed by evening runs in the the darkest, coldest and meanest months of the year.
When I was still in bed on those mornings Mike and Brian were out running.
They also did some Vo2 testing in the DCU lab for a physiological check before the run. While their ‘rock-star’ lifestyles still kicked on in the background with late nights out and film premiers, the lads were dedicated to running and in March did a 54 mile run. I was really happy to hear they successfully made the distance and got a chance to go beyond the 20 mile runs in their normal training. But remember that 54 miles is not even half the distance !!!
As the date fast approached, the guys had started honing in on their gear list and plans as they were laid out. I kept bugging them about the logistics and the plans and it felt like nobody really knew. I was direct to talk with Caroline Foran from entertainment.ie. and my questions were answered. The guys both had a good planners by their side, Caroline Foran and Caroline Smith. There was also the Special Olympics foundation people who offered ‘hard’ support in terms of accommodation, fuel, food etc etc. We had the filmcrew, including the sound guys as well who contributed to the whole plan. It sounds a bit like planning a launch to the moon; Checklist: Lunchbox packed, spare socks, jacket, batteries for lights, toilet paper etc etc….
So the adventure was ready to start, and the launch party was over so it was time to get on the road.
The Drive to Limerick
Driving to Limerick from Dublin was extraordinary. I remember thinking while I looked at the road that every single mile driven was going to be slowly returned on the run back to Dublin. The toughest thing was heavy rain and hailstones combined with a 5-10 degrees C temperature. It was really daunting and I could sense the nerves from Mike who had run in similar condition to this and resulted in injury from swelling feet. (See Lapland Ultra Marathon Blog)
The Night before, Breakfast and the Start:
Arriving at our hotel in Limerick gave me a chance to learn a bit more about their mental preparation and expectations.
Most ‘coaches’ would have done this prior to a mammoth run, but I had been fairly confident they had sorted out their plan while training.
That night chat around the dinner table was fairly light, with the usual jokes and pre-nerves. I kept looking at the weather conditions at met.ie because the rainfall was my biggest concern at this point.
We drove to the start – which was infront of a department store in the middle of Limerick city. The streets were fairly quiet and not many people around, but that soon changed with a good crowd forming fairly quickly. There had been pretty good coverage in the media about the run, especially on the radio through the station Spin – where Brian works, and through entertainment.ie.
It was overcast and cloudy that morning, with rain still lingering from the previous day but a bit clearer. I had predicted a change in the weather. Its typical after a good strong weather system of rain you get this broken-up patches of rain and wind. I much preferred this over the previous days constant heavy rain.
The lads left with a good pace joined by a couple of runners leading them out of the city of Limerick. The going was fairly slow and the police escorted the way. It was only after about 45 minutes the guys had to stop on the roadside for the first pee. It was the first sign of nerves and anxiety as usually happens before a marathon. I was trying to keep the guys fueled up and eating along the way. I also kept a close eye on the pace – and they commented to others ‘Ash is going to kill us if we keep changing the pace’. It was the first sign that some of the things I had said were settling in.
On the outskirts of Limerick the road turns toward the motorway, when we took a small exit straight onto the R445. It was the original road from Limerick towards Dublin through the back of Claire. The ideal road for lots of miles ahead.
With a bit of drizzle and rain the guys were feeling pretty good and the miles ticked away. 10 miles, 20 miles and then the first marathon (26) came up in 4 hours and 30 something minutes. We were in the middle of nowhere at that point. The pace was a bit quick for my liking, and they had already fallen a bit short on the nutritional strategy of 1 litre min per hour and one descent meal per hour. Both Mike and Brian felt bloated and weren’t hungry, a typical feeling when you are taking too many sweets.
*** End of Part 1: More to come ****
Copy of Press Release:
‘Seiei’ (pronounced “say ay”) is Japanese for the word ‘elite’ and this exciting new range is to be worn by a number of Mizuno’s current crop of elite athletes as they chase their own sporting moments this year.
The dominant purple colourway of the Seiei collection is historically associated with top ranked Shotokutaishi personnel in Japanese society. The colour was deemed extremely valuable due to the fact that it was difficult to extract and produce, providing Mizuno with a befitting colour to associate with the elite status of their athletes. The more luminescence yellow meanwhile represents energy in Japanese culture and will express the energy radiated by Mizuno’s elite athletes in competition this summer.
The Seiei Collection will be sold exclusively at Mizuno’s new Performance Centre – open to the public between the 24th July and the 12th August at Centre Point Building, London.
Panache Sport – Bra for all sports
Choosing the right training gear can make or break your session, depending on the level of
comfort it provides and reduces chaffing, aches or injuries. My wife tells me that Sports Bras are one of those things
essential to get right, and there’s no better way than buckling them up and heading out for a few
miles run. In talking to my wife I was quick to find out the the most imporant things are a good
firm fit and quality fabric that doesn’t loose its elasticitiy or cause chaffing.
Traditionally my wife wears two sportsbras to get a perfect fit and was excited by the thought of
wearing only one bra with a good reputation. I was told that the bras underwire would give a bit
more support, but after a few miles it fell short of expections.
But it wasn’t a dissapointment, and as sport bras are purely a personal thing this one might
be the all in one answer for other ladies who do exercise. Some of the best points about this
bra included the range of colours and good cup shapes. The racerback straps were extremely
difficult to clip and unclip.
While this bra wasn’t the perfect solution for my wife, it is worth giving a try on and jumping
around to see if it works for you. Waist size fits perfect, so if your a 34 you’ll need a 34. The size
ranges from B – H cup sizes. www.panache-lingerie.com €50
Sports Shield – Anti friction roll-on cream
Perhaps you’ve noticed small aches or pains caused during exercise. Quite often it can be
put down to chaffing or friction caused by your clothing of general wear. Even the continous
movement of your body over time will cause sweat which can increase the pain during your
There is a very simple answer to these problems, which won’t deteriorate your gear. Sports
Shield is a roll-on anti chaffing and blister cream. The cream contained in sports shield has
Aloe Vera extract and Vitamin E to ensure a smooth, natural cream on your skin. You will be
surprised by how much a small investment in comfort can make towards a sucessful workout.
Sports shield stays on your skin under all conditions so its suitable for swimming, running,
cyclists and all general sports. www.2toms.com for: €12
Columbia Insight Ice Womens top
With the warmer weather upon us, there is some great technology out there designed to help
you stay cool while exercising. Columbia have developed a t-shirt and range that not only relies
on airflow to keep you cool, but the inclusion of this ingenous fabric called Omni-Freeze ICE®
which uses your sweat to trigger a chemical reaction to keep you cool.
It might seem a little bit out of this world, but under light excercise on a warm day the shirt felt
cold enough to cause goose bumps. The fabric is soft and comfortable, with vented panneling
and flat stitched seams. The womens version comes with a v-neck and the mens equivalent
a round neck and a range of colours. Available through a range of tops, bottoms and gear by
Columbia Sports. Columbia Insight Ice Womens top featured. www.columbiasportswear.ie from:
Thanks again for the massive crowd who joined in the Wed. night RunClub. While the rain held off, the evening was quite humid – perfect for running. Some of the runners started with us from the shop at 6:30 pm and ran the 3 km down to the Docklands to meet the rest of the group. When we arrived at Docklands there was good group of runners waiting for us (see pics) .
Once the group assembled, we started out running to the ‘New’ starting area for the Dockalnds Fun Run 5km. Its been moved because of pipe works, and will now start and finish in a different area (I think its the Quays side of the Grand Canal Dock area. ) Stay tuned for the update on that.
Special thanks to all those who attended the fun evening… Next Wed. night RunClub will be on Wed the 30th of May.
Wednesday’s was usually the achillies heel for runners, but now with the casual running group coming together we have been enjoying doing a short 5km loop in the Docklands. I’ve been seriously impressed by some of the runners, who come with all levels of abilities. One lady was back running 11 weeks after giving birth, and another girl had never run more than 3km. So proud you guys. Also with the help of my mates, the group runs at all paces through the Docklands area starting and finishing at the Grand Canal Dock infront of the Theater.
Mosquitoes, Live Reindeer raffle prize, Swedish Massage, Forests, Mooses, 24-hours Daylight, 9 hours of Rain, 100 km.
Before the Ultramarathon in July I had an excellent leadup with my last marathon a month before the start. I had also spent a week on holiday in Spain with my wife where I ran 90 miles in training directly after Stockholm marathon. I had exactly 3 week of taper before the Ultra, and with plenty of hours in work and moving house in my schedule I was very busy. You can never prepare enough for these races in my opinion. Perhaps another week would have been ideal to be fully rested up, but I didn’t have that option so I arrived in Sweden already a bit tired and overworked.
One of the biggest challenges about the Lapland Ultramarathon was getting to the start. With several flight delays, and a huge scare when we arrived in Stockholm – the temperature was a ‘whopping’ 26C HOT!! I had also been training with a buddy, Mike Sheridan, who was also running the Ultra. We flew into Skelleftea in Northern Sweden and picked up the rental car (a Volvo of course) and drove the 220 km to Adak. We arrived at the start line 8 hours before the start at 10 PM, which allowed for an afternoon sleep of nearly 5 hours before the start.
There were about 30 competitors running the Lapland Ultra and 20 walkers who started 4 hours before the runners. On the race website there was little information about the event, so we decided to train and use our Camelbaks which were good carrying all our own food supplies and drinks. But what we learned was that the stations were outstanding over the 100km. The local community had stations every 5 km or less over the whole 100 km. Many of the people at the stations didn’t speak English. Being so far North it was also pretty secluded in these communities which we found out at a few stations that we were the first Australian and Irishman they had ever met. Of course I can speak Swedish so most were taken by an even bigger surprise when I was able to tell them that I was from Australia in perfect Swedish!
The most important part of the race before we started was the weather prognosis. It had a huge bearing on what we were going to leave at the aid stations, also on what we were going to wear during the run. I had running gear for almost every condition; Sunshine, Hail, snow and rain. The equipment had to be extremely adaptable as well – so if there was sunshine, followed by rain then snow flurry you needed a t-shirt, top and arm warmers to keep you comfortable as possible through all the seasonal changes.
I chose to wear a technical t-shirt, lycra undershorts covered with running shorts, a windbreaker vest and compression socks. What I learned was that the compression socks worked very well to regulate my body temperature keeping me warm in the dawn hours, but also giving some comfort when I got tired. We had also packed mosquito repellent because we were warned about the strength of the mighty Northern Mosquitos.
At 10 pm in broad daylight (see photos above) the gun went off, and we all took a deep breath and knocked on our Garmin’s as we started at a very slow pace gathering our heads together for the long course. It was raining. The first kilometer passed without the blink of an eye and before we knew it we had passed the 10km- only 90 km to go. Starting in Adak the scenery changed very quickly into long- rolling countryside, thick with deep forest like a carpet that ran to the edge of the earth. Around every corner you could see slightly different types of terrain, hills, long flat roads but the forest remained the same. What did emerge along the way were lovely lakes and the occasional bridge which gave a great view across the lakes. Just think ‘screen saver’
I had my Garmin set to alarm every 45 minutes so that I wouldn’t forget to eat and drink food. Its very easy on these long runs to forget to eat, and when you begin to fade its very hard to rejuvenate a hungry body.
Time passed pretty well, and by midnight we came across an amazing person running the Ultra. His name was Rune Larsson, a native Sweden with a golden Suntan. He had just finished running 4000km from Portugal to Sweden the week before and decided to run the 100 km as well to catch up with a long-time Ultra Running friend from Japan (Toshio Ohmori). We talked with Rune for several hours until we hit the 40 km mark then waved goodbye. Runne Larsson held the Ultramarathon 100 km record in Sweden for 23 years. Rune was an amazing guy – one of the best experiences of the ultra, one of the greatest Ultra Runners in the world and also a great comedian! We shared some brilliant jokes along the way and talked about beer, women, life, running and other things which blokes think about.
The terrain varied from gravel roads, to slushy muddy trails for most of the first 63 kilometers. After this point it turned to tarmac-road. Our bodies had taken onboard some aches and pains along the way, which we tried to troubleshoot. Most of the pain was because of the constant rain. Both of us were completely saturated through and the worst area that it affected was our feet. I had developed massive blisters on one of my toes, while Mikes foot had swelled and caused heavy bruising. We struggled to keep ourselves positive but managed to keep the moral high by telling jokes and talking about what we were going to eat when we finished. It had been raining for 7 hours with every type of rain imaginable from heavy downpours and light misty rain.
The course wasn’nt flat either, with some long 5-7% gradients up some of the hills. It really broke up the rhythm because of the combination of fatigue, tiredness and saturation. At the 70 km point we picked up our fresh change of clothes we had prepared earlier, and the difference if a dry t-shirt was amazing. There was suddenly a bit of spring in our step.
By 80 km the crucial part of the race really started to kick in. It was simple enough to think that there was only 20km left to go, so we picked up the pace a bit and ignored the rain. Unfortunately the momentum didn’t last long and by 90 km we were back to using a ‘run-walk’ strategy because of the fatigue. Mike had really big problems with his foot, which now was badly bruised and swollen. Every step hurt, and every mile spread the pain through his legs. I did my best to encourage him to keep eating and drinking, but he simply couldn’t handle taking anything onboard. I knew that if he didn’t eat or drink it could mean the difference between finishing or not. I was insistent but Mike managed a few small sips of energy drink and limped along in survival mode. We were in trouble.
Both of use were in immense pain as the rain lashed down, but we pushed on. The wind had become still and the lakes were reflecting the Northern skies with misty haze blanketing the landscape from the rain.
We laughed at the signs along the way, often pointing out that 95 km meant that it was only 5 km to go –‘ just a walk in the park’. Our morale was pretty good by the time we hit the 99 km mark, and the first sight of town was approaching. A guy walking his dog waved to us and he spoke in Swedish ‘Bra Gjort Grabbar’ which means ‘Well done lads’. The last kilometer was slightly uphill into Adak. The finish-line was dormant, with nobody around to cheer us under the wooden Lapland Ultra finshers arch.
I managed to find someone to take a photo of us at the finishline. Our faces told a very serious story. We both had deeply etched lines, tired eyes and saturated bodies and the legs.
It was 9:50 am – which gave us a 11:50 hours finishing time. We couldn’t really tell how many people were ahead or behind us, but at the awards ceremony that evening we found out that we had finished 8th and 9th place overall. We were delighted with the result. The price ceremony was in a small theatre in the local town and some of the community turned up to see if they had won the live raindeer as part of the lottery. I wish I had won that raindeer – but it would have been tough to bring it back to Ireland. I think I would have set it free like a bird.
Now that I know the course and organization, I am already thinking of coming back next year to give it a good go. The 24 hours of daylight and people along the course made it the most amazing running experience I’ve ever had. www.laplandultra.nu. We loved Sweden
Trying your hand at a marathon off-shore is a great way to boost your motivation in training, and to experience a whole new country. Stockholm in Sweden is a safe place for your first marathon outside of Ireland, with most Swedes speaking perfect English and the climate fairly similar to Ireland.Stockholm is also rated one of the safest cities in Europe. Stockholm Marathon had some surprising perks for runners, which make it one of the best races in Europe.
The 33rd Stockholm Marathon 2011 was a well organised and supported event. To start, theMarathon expo takes place in the same location as the start on the fringes of the city centre. On race day there is free public transport on the buses, trains and underground network making getting to the start and after the race nice and easy. There is also a system in place whereby if you have to pull out of the race at any point you get a free taxi ride to the finish for free upon showing your race number. The Swedish attention to detail doesn’t stop there, with excellent support along the course with water waterstations every 3 kilometers, and a good host of entertainment, energy drinks, and food around the course. The average temperature in May is 19 degrees Celsius, with extra-long daylight hours with sunrise before 4:00 am and sun set around 11:30 pm.
Travel and Location:
The marathon sells out fast, so be sure to sign up as soon as possible if you plan to run in 2012. The course follows two loops around Stockholm city, so planning your accommodation is easy, just stay in Stockholm city. Hotel prices in Stockholm range from €60 per night for a B&B, but most hotel rooms run around €100-200 per night. A budget option for those who don’t mind the sharing a room can be found in one of the many hostels which offer bunk rooms from as little as €20 per night.
There are several ways to get to Stockholm from Dublin with flights a good range of carriers offering good value for money if you plan well in advance. When flying into one of the Stockholm airports, keep in mind that you will need to get an airport bus to the city which costs around €12-14 each way. Bus’s run every 10-15 minutes around the clock.
Stockholm is built on 14 islands, with over 57 bridges connecting the city which earned it the title of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Seeing Stockholm on the water comes highly recommended to get a view of the 750 year old city. Other great attractions worth a look include the City Hall with its Gold rooftops, the Royal Palace and the medieval Gamla Stan old town for its Swedish handcrafts, shops and restaurants.
The registration expo is fairly small, but has enough for race souvenirs and last minute supplies. If your planning a ‘fly-in-and run’ trip you can pickup your race number on the race morning. The start time is a generous 11:30 am, which I am told is the earliest they have held the start compared to previous years.
Stockholm marathon course does two laps of the city, 10 miles on the first lap, and 16 miles on the second lap. The course has changed over the years to accommodate larger numbers of runners with ample space. From the start it’s fairly easy to find your rhythm in the first mile without the hustle and bustle that you find at the bigger marathons.
The course takes in some of the best sights along the way, which include the Royal Palace, Gammla Stan (Old Town), Central Station, the West Bridge (Vasterbron) and the beautiful gardens of Djurgarden which have been owned by the Swedish Royal family since the 15th Century. While the course remains relatively flat, there are some gradual climbs which come as a surprise but the smiles from the friendly Swedes cheering you on is enough to pull you around without too much trouble.
Stockholm marathon isn’t known for its record breaking times or personal bests, but it offers an incredible experience.
2011 Stockholm Marathon at a Glance
Race Entry: €100-00
Shumi Gerbaba (ETH) 2:14
Total Finishers: 15,471
Best Irish Finisher: Roger Coyle (3:00)
Number of Irish Competitors: 37
Where to stay: City Centre Hotels, B&B’s and Hostels.
City Attractions: Vasa Museum, Gamla Stan (Old Town), The Royal Palace, City Hall.
Where to Eat: Drottningatan, Gamla Stan.
Currency: Swedish Kronor (Kr)
Airport to City Transfer: 119 Kr/€13 Bus, 500Kr/€50
Irish Runner race rating: 4 / 5 Stars.
Enjoyable, a bit pricey, good course.
See www.stockholmmarathon.se for results and entry.
Finishing Time: 3:22
Entry: €70, (Full marathon, half and 10 km) 2500 people at the Curragh race course.
Accommodation: Home – 40 min drive from Dublin.
Notes: Bad stomach pains/ stopped 3 times during run to try and get myself together.
The Horse racing course (The Curragh) is an excellent venue for a marathon. Lots of space and plenty of amenities for a big run. Parking for marathoners was right at the starting area, with an easy walk to the grandstands for changing. Leaving your gear in a bag at the stands was a bit of a risk with low sercurity. Signage was a bit confusing, but lots of good marshalls. Toilets were okay, inside the main grandstand and down steps (*no fun going down after the run)
Walking out of the stand to the start about 100 metres away. Not many people at start (400) so it was my smallest marathon to visit so far. The start was delayed because they were putting up signage. There was light drizzle rain at the start of the run with grey weather the whole way. Slight head wind, but not enough to cause a problem for your finishing time. Temperature about 10C. I ran behind the 3:15 pace group with Mike Sheridan (entertainment.ie) with a nice group of 15-20 lads. It felt too slow for us so we ran ahead. I couldnt keep the pace up because of my stomach so I got dropped. I had to stop at 6 miles for a toilet stop and wasnt that comfortable.
Great stations along the course in some of the smaller country towns. Small families manning the stations. One small town along the course ‘Doncavan’ and Newbridge were cute.
At 13 miles we ran into a golf course and up a hill. It was a tough little climb, but only short. My body was suffering at this point and had another toilet stop.
The course felt really flat compared to Belfast and at 16 miles it really flattened out. At this point you joined the 1/2 marathon runners. It was nice to have a bit of company as well because it was fairly quiet until this point.
Passing alongside the National Stud was a welcomed sight because I knew the finish was imminent. There was a turn back to Kildare town which came up pretty fast. With a couple of small ramps in Kildare town it flattened out again for the last few miles.
The large grand stand at The Curragh appeared and you knew the end was in sight. At 25 miles you could get a good run into the finish with crowds starting to form towards the finishline. There were two finishing clocks, one for the half and one for the full. Both times didn’t make any sense to me so I just ran through the side that I thought would be the marathon finish.
After the finish there was lots of confusion in the main hall, it was a bit like a busy train station. Bags were well open, so if the theves were around everything could have gone wrong – but it didnt. The goodie bags were excellent with lots of good stuff supplied by Aldi. Also the event bag was excellent with lots of Asics gear and extras. Excellent value for money.
Travel: Train from Dublin €40 Rtn IrishRail.ie 2 1/4 hours DUB/BEL
Accommodation: Radisson Blu Belfast GBP 79
Water: 80 pence/ 2 ltrs. Meals very handy, restaurants available everywhere.
Expo: Very small affair in the town hall. Quiet and little booths available.
Belfast: Very urban, concrete and quiet city.
Finishing Time: 3:04:14 *Fastest so far for the year.
Marathon course was quite hilly, the first 13 miles gradually climb up through the suburbs the a sharp downhill along the coast returning to the city. Some of the descents were short fast sections, steep almost near then you end up by the sea. There were quiet strong crosswinds heading back into Belfast and you felt the wind pushing you on the side quiet strongly. It would have been very tough if the wind was a little more head-on.
Drink stations were sufficient, but not enough energy drinks. Take your own supplements if you are going to run Belfast. Lovely people at stations, some were un-official stations with people putting their family on the road-side with cups of water etc.
Start: Is immediately infront of the townhall. Its a fairly tight area, but with fairly small numbers it thinned out fairly quickly. I ran the first few miles pretty fast and the crowd thinned out very fast. I was pacing Dany Regalbuto and Rory Flynn for a sub-3 marathon so the timing was crucial to get some miles in on pace to stay on target. Dany ran the first 7 miles with me then I dropped him into the climbs and didn’t see Dany until the half way mark when I was waiting for them and did a toilet stop. I was about 1:31 at the halfway point. The course was a massive Figure 8 style, heading out for a loop then crossing the town hall area again before heading out to the North/Western suburbs. It was an interesting part of the course as the areas known for violence of the past with the Protestant and Catholic conflicts in the area. You run past the ‘peace wall’ which is a symbolic area for the troubles.
When connecting with the shore you have a few miles until you reach the Industrial Estates. It was here that a lone-tent was setup with a local radio station playing music stood beside a sewer plant. Oh man – the smell was disgusting. A funny moment on the run.
Relays were abound, with several hundred people grouped by the roadside of the road. A bit annoying, because of some of the lads joining in the run with fresh legs and racing off. I had the chance to catch onto a few of them and wore them out pulling in some bodies and passing them. It felt good later in the run to know that at 20 miles I could still pass people.
Mile 23-25 turned into a disaster, slightly uphill at a crucial point in the race where you can either get under 3 hours or not. The lads (Dany and Rory) were long gone by this stage.
Flights: Dub/CDG €100, train to Paris (D’Nord) April 8-12.
Accommodation: Hotel Monterosa (Pigalle/St.Germain) €110 per nights incl breakfast
Run: 4:30 hrs. Ran with friends from America (Greg Tice/ Rick Privratsky)
Photo: Finish line at the Arc De Triomphe – with Harriette Lynch
Expo: Huge and Impressive. A massive Triathlon section, with an temporary indoor-pool, bikes and treadmills. There were doing in-door triathlons. I met Barbara Sanchez at the expo – working on the dublin marathon booth. Lorraine Manning was also at Paris going after her PB marathon time.
Start: 40,000 runners start on the Cobbled Street of the ‘Champs Ellese’ which backs onto the Arc De Triumph. There were no toilets to be found immediatly near the start, and no-where to pee as this was an upmarket shopping area. I saw some lads pissing on the ‘United Colours of Beniton’ shop. It was crowded from the gun and the course led down to the Louve where it heads left around the Louve. Most of the first 20 km was crowded, especially around the pace marshals carrying the balloons.
The temperature climbed to around 26 C as the course went out of Paris and into some of the parks. There was not really any places that the course free’d up enough to run at a decent pace. As you turn back along the river Sierne the course goes down a few tunnels (4 or 5) of which one is Lady Dianne’s.
The second Park (west) was a bit narrow in sections, with the odd curb being an obstacle for tired legs. It felt easier because the finish was nearing.
Water stations were very consistent, but there was a lack of energy drinks like gatorade. The first gatorade station was at 33 km – too late for me on a hot day.
As soon as the course left the park it landed onto the finishing stretch facing the Arc D Triomphe… quite amazing sight. There was a massive traffic jam with people everywhere at the finish just over the line. T-shirts and medals and drinks at the finish were good.
I ran with Greg and Privratsky for the whole distance, loosing Greg near the end just because of crowds. The pace was so slow that it hurt because I hadn’t been running that slow in ages. You must use different muscles when you run 9 min/miles. We stopped a couple of times waiting for Greg but couldn’t find him. The heat was quite tough to run in as well.