If you have participated in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, I am sure you would have felt proud just by standing at the starting line, knowing that you were part of the 50,000-strong crowd making up the full and half marathon distances, as well as the 10km, 5km and kids categories.
If you did the full marathon distance, your race would have started at the ungodly 4:30 a.m., and then ran along iconic Singapore landmarks that would have been closed in those wee hours, with virtually no crowd cheering you on.
Now imagine standing alongside 50,000 like minded runners when the sun is up on a beautiful April spring at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, all aiming to complete the full marathon distance, with thousands more spectators cheering you on.
The 43rd edition of the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris took place on 14 April 2019. It began way back in 1976, and had only one cancellation in 1991 due to the Gulf War. The 2019 edition saw 60,000 runners at the start line, including 50,000 for the full marathon distance.
A third of the runners were foreigners; this is a substantial number considering the economic impact it will generate for the city. Also, it is the first marathon to achieve a neutral-carbon footprint.
A Beautiful Course
Running the Paris Marathon is akin to doing a half day tour of the city on foot. Starting at Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the course took in the tourist city sights of Place de la Concorde, Place Vendome, Opera Garnier and Place de la Bastille before moving towards the suburban district of Château de Vincennes.
It then continued along the Seine River with glimpses of the fateful Notre-Dame de Paris, and continued towards Grand Palace, Eiffel Tower, Louis Vuitton Foundation and ended at Arc de Triomphe.
Online registration many months ago was a simple, seamless process. The race pack collection was also quick and smooth.The expo had lots of booths, with many European-centric brands as well races in other European cities.
Race Day Observations
The course was probably the most beautiful I had ever experienced, going through the iconic tourist landmarks. There were a few kilometres of running on the cobblestones, but no real issues there.
The elites started their race at 8 a.m., while the mere mortal me started in the last wave at 10 a.m., with a brightly shining sun in 2 deg C.
Water points were located at km7, then km13, then about 4-5km onwards in between. This was a new experience as I was used to getting hydration about 2km each time for races in humid Asian conditions.
It was a first time for me to use the given event hydration pack to run a road marathon.From my observations, lots of people carried either packs or had their run belts on.
At feeding stations, only bottled water, bananas, pretzels, raisins and sugar cubes(!) were provided. No isotonic drinks, no gels.
Finisher tees were given on a first come, first served basis. This needs improvements by today’s standard. In most marathons, the tee sizes would be indicated on the bibs, so that finishers would get the size they would need, and this would cap off a wonderful overall experience, not in this case though.
- Flights into and out of Paris are relatively affordable. Barring direct flights, airlines with one stopover point offer fares below S$1,000 inclusive of all taxes.
- Accommodation in Paris expensive versus other European cities. Plan on about S$200 per room night for a barely decent stay.
- Stay near to a train station that offers a direct line to the Arc de Triomphe. You do not want to be stressed getting to the start point on race morning.
- Temperatures swing wildly recently; so do prepare for winter running conditions. It was 2 deg C on race morning, and hovered around 6-8 deg C throughout the race. A week later, the temperature soared to 26 deg C.
Registration for 2020 Edition
The first phase of registration at €90 has closed. The organiser Amaury Sport Organisation – also the organiser to the famous Tour de France – is now accepting pre-registration for the second phase, which will be priced at €110.
Unlike in other marathons, I had no pressure to go for a personal best timing or put in my best efforts. The course was simply too beautiful and I wanted to appreciate just being out there and soak in the whole Parisian festivities. If you are planning for a European holiday in the spring, then set aside 5 April 2020 for a 42.195km morning stroll in Paris.