This is the 2nd time that Mike has run the Paris Marathon. The first time it was his very first marathon and he had a stress fracture of his tibia that happened 4 weeks prior to the marathon so he had to run it in a brace. His time that year was a great starting point so he was really looking forward to this year and his goal was to break 4 hours. Mike, Kelly & Brad (shown below)
had all run it 3 years ago and this year one of the BYU study abroad students, Maddie was running it too. Her sister Mary Claire, had also signed up to run it but couldn't because of an injury so one of the other students, Hillary, was going to run the first half with Maddie. As part of the support group, I've learned a few things the hard way, so I thought I'd share some tips:
- Go early and get your photos in front of the Arc de Triomphe because it's only blocked to traffic before the race, and even then there are still a few cars and buses coming through.
- You won't want to wear your good shoes. With 42,000 runners and 220,000 spectators, the streets of Paris will sink to an all time low of cleanliness. You'll be walking or standing for at least 4 hours unless you're supporting an elite runner so choose comfy footwear that if splashed by a questionable substance won't ruin your day.
- Bring gloves and hand warmers. The wind this year was brutal. I could have made a lot of money selling handwarmers to spectators.
- Set up on the inside track of the marathon course at the 5 mile mark and you'll be able to see your runner again at the 13 mile mark by only hoofing it about 3 blocks.
- Take water and a snack. Since the marathon is on a Sunday most grocery stores are closed and even a lot of the cafes were closed. It's nice to have something to get you through the morning. Also bring along some money for a chocolat chaud and a croissant when you do find an open cafe. We ducked into a cafe after our guys and Maddie went by the 5 mile mark. It was nice to get out of the wind and cold for 40 minutes and fuel up a bit.
- Use the restroom at the cafe before you leave because there aren't a lot of places for spectators to go.
- If you plan on using the metro buy ALL your tickets the day before as the lines to buy them in the middle of the race and at the end are VERY long.
- Don't stand near a tree in the park. I don't really want to go into detail on this one so just trust me.
- Tell your runner to stay on the right side when running and then you'll most likely be able to spot them at all the places you've set up to cheer them on. Decide before the race where that will be so they can be watching out for you.
- This is the most important tip of all - have a plan to meet up after. As a spectator you won't be able to go onto Avenue Foch where the runners get their medals, t-shirts, post-race food and other things. It's all fenced off. So choose a meeting location outside of that and scout it out before the race if you aren't familiar with Paris. With 280,000 people all crammed into the same 1/2 mile strip of land it's nearly impossible to find your runner after they've finished if you don't have a meeting location.
Mike didn't get his sub 4:00 time but he did finish in 4:05 which was a new personal best for him so he was happy.