Back in the pre-blog year of 2010 when I ran my first Paris marathon, I spent my Saturday morning at the expo, with no idea of the Breakfast Run taking place on the streets of Paris at the same time. Fast forward to 2013 and I read this post by fellow Scottish runner/blogger Red Wine Runner and I knew that when I returned to Paris in 2014, the Breakfast Run would be a “Must Do” event in my race weekend plans. That event turned out to be a real highlight of the weekend (which is saying something when that same weekend featured an incredible city marathon) so of course I wanted to do it again in 2015. Here’s my report on the event and
a few lots of photos…
Entries for the Breakfast Run open around February and if I recall correctly, there are around 3000 places, all of which are sold. The great thing about the Breakfast Run is that you don’t have to be running the marathon to take part, it’s open to all, so friends and family can enjoy something of the marathon weekend atmosphere. It’s also a bargain at just 7 euros (around £5GBP/$7.50USD). For that you get a tech T-shirt (which you must wear to access the course), 5k on closed roads which include the area around the Eiffel Tower, and post-run refreshments (croissants, bananas, coffee, water). There’s an amazing atmosphere as nobody is really “racing”, it’s more about the shared experience and a little bit of fancy dress to represent your country.
Since breakfast was included at our hotel, we did have something to eat around 7am (yoghurt, pastries, juice and coffee) before donning our kilts and heading up towards Avenue Foch (the start line for the Breakfast Run is also the finish line of the marathon so it’s a great opportunity to check out the finish area ahead of the big day). Of course we couldn’t resist some photos of the spectacular Arc de Triomphe standing in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle. For me, the entire marathon weekend is centred around this landmark as it is behind the start line and when visible again, you know you have only a couple of hundred metres of the marathon to go.
Walking around the Arc, we were joined by a multitude of other runners, all decked out in the same tops as us. Some were in regular running gear, others had embraced the invitation to represent their country. All were excited.
We headed around to Avenue Foch (pronounced to rhyme with “posh”) and, as is traditional, joined the queue for the portaloos. As we waited our turn, I listened to all the different voices – French, American, Australian, English – and marvelled at the diversity of cultures all united by running. Everyone nodded and smiled at one another, strangers spoke to each other and those from the same country greeted each other effusively. In fact, as we left the toilets and walked towards the start line, someone jogged up behind us and a familiar accent called out, “awrite folks, gaun yersels!” which, for those not attuned to the idiosyncrasies of Scottish vernacular, is a friendly greeting followed by an encouragement. Standing in the middle of a typically wide Parisian avenue, this amused me.
Joining the throngs at the start line, we found ourselves with a few minutes to wait as the race didn’t start on time (I didn’t expect it to, we were in France and experience has taught me that the French are fairly laid back about this bit!). This gave me a chance to take a few more photos:
At last we got underway. I had remained concerned about how my quad would feel, but actually it seemed quite settled so I was able to jog comfortably around the course (nobody’s in any great hurry at this event) and take some photos. The first half of the race winds through the streets towards the Trocadéro and our first view of the Eiffel Tower. There’s music playing from a race vehicle ahead and everybody is in good spirits, chatting to one another and soaking up the atmosphere.
Unsurprisingly, most of the runners stop at this point to take photos. There’s some work being done at the Trocadéro right now (you can see the wooden hoarding to the left of the photo above) which limits the view a little, but the Tower is still a stunning sight.
After this, the route follows the road downhill around the Trocadéro, providing further views of the tower before we find ourselves by the Seine and crossing the Pont d’Iéna towards the tower itself.
Crossing the Pont d’Iéna towards the Eiffel Tower is without doubt my favourite part of this race. It’s usually a very busy bridge linking the Trocadéro on one side of the river to the Eiffel Tower on the other, and having the chance to run across it without traffic and take in the incredible view is simply amazing, so of course this is another part of the route where most people stop for photos.
Finally, we run around to the other side of the Champ de Mars to finish by the École Militaire. Last year there was a finish gantry, but this year there were just some flags to mark the finish line so I was a little taken by surprise!
Remembering from last year how difficult it was to get to the refreshment tables (the one part of this event which needs some improvement) we joined the crowds flowing towards breakfast. I actually wasn’t hungry so only wanted some water and coffee, but Steve managed to grab a croissant (which is more than we managed last year!). Volunteers were trying to impose some order and stop people taking more than their fair share, but they were largely being ignored, as was the woman who repeatedly shouted through a loud hailer for us to “allez au fond des ravitaillements” (basically to keep on going to the end of the refreshment tables). Oh well, c’est la vie!
Soon enough, though, I was able to have a seat and sip my coffee while enjoying a quite wonderful view:
Suitably refreshed, we set off to walk across the Champ de Mars back towards the tower and up to the Trocadéro to take some photos before jumping on the metro back to our hotel.
At this point, we were approached by a guy who asked us, as the only other people he had spotted in kilts, if he could have a photo with us. We agreed and then forgot all about it until he got in touch via this blog’s Facebook page to share the photo and ask how we got on in the marathon. It was nice to be able to chat with him and so weird to discover we had been “recognised” whilst away!
We stopped again for photos in the Champ de Mars:
While taking the above selfie, a nice Scottish couple came over and offered to take a picture of both of us. We then chatted with them for a minute or two before bumping into another runner from Perth that Steve knew. I honestly don’t know how he manages to bump into somebody he knows EVERYWHERE we go in the world!
We did eventually make it back to the Trocadéro and fought through the crowds for a couple of photos:
And finally reached the metro, where there was a “subtle” hint that that there might be a big race about to take place!
Safely back at our hotel to plan the rest of the day, I was able to take a moment to reflect on my morning. Once more, I thoroughly enjoyed the Breakfast Run and would definitely recommend it. If you happen to be around Paris on marathon weekend, sign up. You won’t regret it.
Next time: The marathon itself!