I may only have been away from home for three nights, but it was a packed and exciting weekend with LOTS of things happening, so I’ve realised that I’m going to have to write about it in instalments! This first post will focus on getting to Paris and visiting the race expo to collect our race packs.
If you read my post last week, you may remember that our travel plans had been disrupted by a pilots’ strike and we had hurriedly made alternative travel plans to get ourselves to Paris. Thankfully this particular journey went well and Steve, Graeme, Fiona and I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport earlier than we would have done on our original flight! The most logical use of our time was to head straight for the expo as this would allow us a bit more time on Saturday to see Paris.
Getting to the expo was easy enough, but a bit time-consuming as we were effectively heading to the opposite side of Paris and this involved a trip on the RER (suburban train) as well as the metro – not always fun with luggage! However as we emerged from the metro at Porte de Versailles the idea of a big running event started to take shape:
Once inside, we had our medical certificates checked (always a nervy part as without an appropriate certificate, you won’t be given your race pack) then with “approved” firmly stamped across our paperwork, we moved on to collect our race numbers and bags, stopping only for a photo op:
It was while we were waiting to take these photos that it all suddenly started to feel a bit “real” and I experienced the sort of wave of emotion that I have only ever experienced at race expos, causing me to have to swallow hard to force down the lump in my throat – if you’ve ever done the London marathon, it’s the same feeling as when you nervously clutch your race pack and the London marathon theme starts booming over the sound system. If you’re heading to London for the marathon this weekend, then you may just have experienced it while reading that!
We really didn’t have a huge amount of time to spend at the expo due to arriving so near to its closing time, however I was still able to collect a pace band, mooch some free Haribo (yum!), buy a new pair of compression calf sleeves (I really do swear by calf compression these days) and eat some pasta (we had pre-ordered tickets for the ‘”pasta party”). While all this was going on, Graeme was at the KT Tape stand having some lovely purple tape applied as he has had an ongoing issue with his calves for the last few weeks.
The last thing we did was collect our packs for the Breakfast Run on Saturday morning. We had each paid 5 Euros to take part in this 5k event and to get access to the course we had to wear the tech T-shirts that were provided. We were also given flags to carry/adorn ourselves with:
It was all starting to get rather exciting, but it had also been a long day and it was time to go and find our hotel so it was back to the metro. Having looked up the address of the hotel, I had taken an educated guess as to which metro station we wanted and was pleased to find that the hotel could actually be seen when we came out of the station! With my duties as navigator over for the day, I donned my “translator” hat to get everyone checked in and we went our separate ways to find our rooms.
Our room was lovely and we could hardly believe what a good deal we had found in terms of quality and proximity to the marathon start/finish so that we would not have to contend with a busy metro system around the race.
We knew we had to head out to get our bearings and buy some bottled water/snacks to keep in the room, but first we had to investigate our marathon packs:
The green drawstring bags contained the usual assortment of leaflets (although being in French made them a little more exotic!), a fancier version of the pre-race “bin bag”, a lolly, packet of Haribo, pistachios, sample of Tiger Balm, a metro map with extra route info, a yellow snap band (not seen one of those since the 1980s!), a “wish band” and a Schneider Electric head torch which will come in handy. There was also the race information booklet which is not pictured.
Finally we unpacked a bit, checked our messages on Facebook etc, organised our things for the Breakfast Run the next morning and headed to bed for some all-important rest. The stage was set for a great weekend not just of running, but of running in PARIS and I was feeling excited!!
In my next post – the Breakfast Run and Saturday in Paris…