Way back in April, in the days running up to the Paris marathon, an opportunity presented itself. Marathon sponsor Schneider Electric launched a competition to win a place in the 2016 Paris marathon (which also happens to be the 40th edition of the event). That competition was The Social Marathon.
This was a Twitter competition in which entrants had to “gather” tweets, and each tweet containing your username and a variety of hashtags equated to a certain distance in metres. The aim: to collect enough tweets to add up to the marathon distance of 42.195km.
The competition ran from a few days before the 2015 race until 5pm on race day itself. There were 100 places in the 2016 race up for grabs, with the first 10 to cross the virtual finish line guaranteed a spot and the remaining places allocated by random draw across the remaining “finishers”. By the time I decided to join in, the first 10 finishers had already bagged their places, but since I was on holiday and resting ahead of the race, I thought it was worth a go – what did I have to lose?
And so, if you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may recall a day featuring a barrage of what no doubt appeared to be spam tweets (sorry about that!) as I wanted to be sure I “finished” before setting off for Paris. At first, I was largely putting those tweets out myself, however the competition website featured a current top 10 and as soon as I found myself on that list, an interesting thing happened: the “social” part of the competition suddenly seemed to be less about social media and more about the social nature of the running community. Competitors who were alongside each other on the list began working together to gather those crucial tweets, retweets and favourites. By the time I crossed the “finish line”, I had chatted with several new people, many of whom were French, and we all started to follow each other on the social network. Technically we were competing against each other, but we had still worked together and supported each other in our quest to reach the finish, in the same way that in a real marathon runners look out for each other and help those who are struggling to make it to the end. It was yet another demonstration of why the running community is awesome!
By the time I headed to Paris, I knew that my hat was in the ring for a place in the 2016 race, but keeping an eye on the finisher list I also had a sneaking suspicion that the number of finishers would only marginally exceed 100 at most, making my chances of winning a place pretty good. This really helped me with resetting my goals for this year’s race as I had confidence that I would be back and would have the opportunity to address my unfinished business.
Sure enough, just after I arrived home and was still in the “I can’t really walk properly, let alone run” phase of my recovery, I received an email:
I was in!
But you may now be wondering why I didn’t mention this before. The answer is quite simple: I had to wait until it was official. Although I had the above email telling me I had secured a place, my entry wasn’t officially in and I had to wait until September and the second wave of entries before I was sent a code to redeem on the entry page. Until my entry was in, I didn’t want to make any announcements about my plans, just in case, and I did feel a little antsy until all the details were taken care of and I had this:
Now that I have my place officially confirmed (and saved a whopping 109 euros on the entry fee!), I can make my announcement: in 2016, I will once more be running the Paris marathon. It’s safe to say I’ll be chasing a PB and if things go my way, I’ll be hoping my finish time starts with a 3 – I think 3:59:59 sounds ideal!
Those of you who have followed my escapades for a while know how much I love Paris, and with my annual school visit to the City of Lights looming, Paris (and its marathon) is very much on my mind right now. There’s no better way to see the city than by running a marathon in it and I can’t wait to line up on the Champs Elysées again next April!
Thank you Social Marathon. I’ll see you soon 🙂