Every year, on the eve of the Paris Marathon, the Breakfast Run takes place. Steve and I first took part in this event in 2014 and loved it, so much so that we made sure to sign up for it as soon as possible in 2015 and again for this year. For us, it just wouldn’t be marathon weekend without taking part in the Breakfast Run, as it’s now firmly established as a highlight of our running year (and one of the only times in the year, apart from Christmas Day, that we actually run together!).
Our day began with a light breakfast of coffee and pain au chocolat at our hotel before donning our standard Breakfast Run attire of event tech T-shirt, kilt and Scottish flag. Much of what we enjoy about the Breakfast Run is the opportunity to chat to people from all over and have photos with them, and we’ve found that wearing our kilts creates much more of a talking point and is a real conversation starter!
Suitably dressed, we set off for the start line (the finish line of the marathon itself on Avenue Foch), and were greeted with my favourite morning view: the Arc de Triomphe!
It’s when we reach this point that we start to encounter more runners in matching tops, all on their way to Avenue Foch to run. We joined the crowds making their way there and headed down towards the start, pausing for a couple of photos first.
My only criticism of this event concerns the portable toilets. They’re already in place for the marathon the following day, but very few are actually opened up ahead of the Breakfast Run, resulting in some lengthy queues before the start. We joined a queue, figuring that it didn’t really matter if we just joined the end of the run as it was un-timed, and just as we got to the front there were more toilets opened up. Typical!
As a result, the run had already begun by the time we were ready, but plenty of people were still crossing the start line so we jogged down to join them and soon found ourselves following the now-familiar route over to the other side of the Champ de Mars.
Once firmly among the masses (around 3500 signed up) we took the time to soak up the atmosphere and chat to others (lots of people began conversations by asking if we would be running the marathon in our kilts). We spoke to Simon from Dundee, who was about to run the first of his 4 marathons in April for charity; we spoke to a couple from Wales who were doing the breakfast run together, before the girl ran the marathon as part of her challenge to run a race per month throughout 2016; and we spoke to a couple from England and their son who were all running together before the son ran the marathon the following day. It was so nice to exchange stories and tips, to hear about the various reasons people were running and to enjoy that immediate bond created by running which allows you to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger without looking like a bit of a weirdo!
Another great thing about the Breakfast Run is that for many the running is almost secondary. Everyone is there to enjoy the atmosphere, to chat and to take photos. With the race being un-timed, there is no pressure to finish quickly and everyone happily stops for photos at various points along the route, safe in the knowledge that they’re unlikely to ruin somebody’s PB. Indeed, at the front of the pack is a “chain” of marathon pacers who run together and prevent anyone from running ahead. This all adds to the camaraderie and laid-back atmosphere, which come together to make this event such a highlight for us and a real celebration of running. It’s nice to just run easy without any thought of pace or time, to just run because it’s a fun thing to do. How often do we get to do that?
My favourite part of the run remains crossing the Pont d’Iéna towards the Eiffel Tower as it’s such an iconic sight and the chance to run across what is normally a very busy stretch of road is amazing. Yet, I get a little sad upon reaching the Tower itself as I know there’s only about a mile or so to go until the run is finished. On the plus side, crossing the line means breakfast and a host of further photo opportunities as we walk back across the Champ de Mars.
It was actually getting a bit cold by this point, so we decided to head back to our hotel to get showered, changed and plan the rest of the day. It needed to be pretty relaxed, after all we had 26.2 miles to tackle the following day!
Coming next: The marathon!