La Parisienne : 2016 edition

La Parisienne is a race for women that was inaugurated 20 years ago in Paris. I have been running it for the past 6 years with my colleagues, and this year was no different. Well, I guess that isn’t quite right. The terrorist activity we have had in France affected several things. But I’ll get to that.


One of my favorite parts of the whole race, and any Parisian race for that matter, is taking the subway to the start. Runners get on at every station and the excitement builds the closer you get.

With my colleagues we usually meet near the start line, so that we can be in one of the first few waves. This year, with implementation of security controls (they need to make sure there are no bombs…how reassuring is that), we could no longer do that. There was only one way you could get to the start line. So we planned to meet at a different spot, at 8:30. I got off the subway early and decided to walk a bit for my warm up.

I didn’t get far because I ran into this : Security controls.


I had to wait in line to go through security, where they were patting down everyone (did I mention there were 30 000 runners ??) and checking bags. Once I was through security, I didn’t want to leave the secured area to meet my colleagues because I didn’t want to have to come back through security a second time. So I walked around the expo village, used the rest rooms, sat and watched the people as they were coming through security, in front of the Ecole Militaire. I actually enjoyed this because so many runners were in costume. There were a lot of strict rules on what you could do for costumes….need to be sure you couldn’t hide an explosive device underneath. Yes, unfortunately this is the new reality for big events like this in France.


My colleagues finally made it through and we headed towards the start line. I should be specific… we tried to head to the start line. There were hoards of runner. Hoards.


And we waited. And waited. They let runners off in waves of 1000 to 2 000 every 7 minutes. So we slowly made our way to the start line. And waited.


We usually start in the 3rd, 4th or 5th waves…. this time we were in the 17th wave. Ugh. I hate to sound negative, but we were so used to being in the first waves that this wait was a killer. We were just standing there, doing nothing,

Finally, after waiting one hour for my colleagues and 2 hours to race, we were off. Remember I mentioned recently that I was so excited to run down the Champs Elysees ?


Yeah, well that didn’t happen. At the last minute  – for security reasons – they changed the course route. I was very disappointed. You can tell on the map below that the course doesn’t go down the Champs Elysees, it goes down one side of the river and up the other.


Finally, I loved the race route. Running in strait lines was actually great. There were so many runners that the turns and corners would have been a nightmare.

While I spent the entire 6,6km weaving in and around people, I finished respectably in 38:08. I’ll take it considering it was my fifth time running this week and I was at a very slow jog for almost the first half of the race.

And it started and finished at the Eiffel Tower, which is always so great.


What I liked :

  • Security, even if a bit long, was very well organized and well marked. It felt safe. I felt safe. It was much better organized than in the past.
  • The strait course route, much to my surprise. (Even the hill that was 500 m from the end).
  • The ambiance. Probably at least half of the runners are sponsored by their work place, so seeing people with their colleagues is always fun and there are huge groups of women. There are also many bands playing along the route.


  • My company really does a great job organizing everything for us. There were 60 of us and between all the logistics, inviting us to lunch with our families, getting us t shirts, paying the entrance fee, it is always great.
  • The expo. While I don’t spend time looking around there are many booths and sponsors. It is a lot less ”running” related, and more ”well being” related.
  • The distance. A short race is fun.
  • Running around the Eiffel tower ? Yeah, no explanation needed.
  • Loved this year’s medal.


What I didn’t like : 

  • So.many.people.
  • So.many.walkers. A lot of the participants are not runners but do the race as a social event with girlfriends or colleagues. But so many people walk the whole course and there are portions where there is a strait line of 5 or 6 women across the road. And because 1) I am representing my company and wearing their logo and 2) this race is a huge first for so many women, I don’t say anything.

Would I do it again ? Probably not in these conditions. Several times I caught myself thinking that I just was not enjoying myself. 6,6 km of weaving, the 3 hour wait + crowds just didn’t do it for me.

Would I recommend it ?  Do not race this if you are looking to PR. Run it if you are looking for a good time with other women.


I placed in the top 10%, so not too shabby, but it goes to show how slow going it was… I usually place around 50-90%.

I am linking up with Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, Erika at MCM Mama runs and Patty at My no guilt life for Tuesdays on the run.


Do you like huge races ? Are there a lot of walkers in the races you do ?

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Comments: 27

  1. Jennifer Lefforge September 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm Reply

    This is the 2nd race report I’ve read this morning that’s given me chills just because I’m so ready to race again! Great overview – running around the Eiffel Tower is just C’est si bon! (4 years of high school French and that’s about all I’ve got left;).

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:38 am Reply

      Many races here go around the Eiffel tower, I love it.

  2. Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home September 13, 2016 at 1:13 pm Reply

    So fun! But damn it, those security concerns are really making things tough. Glad you had a good time. And….the Eiffel Tower!
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    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:37 am Reply

      Yes, LOVE running by the Eiffel tower. It NEVER gets old.

  3. Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness September 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm Reply

    Even though the course was changed, it sounds like a great race! I’m glad they but extra security measures in place to keep you all safe. That’s. Super cute medal!

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:36 am Reply

      I was glad for the security too

  4. Christy September 13, 2016 at 2:01 pm Reply

    That would be so frustrating with all those people there and not being able to start until the 17th wave! I have never done a race that big and was getting annoyed at people running 2 and 3 across at my marathon over the weekend so I can’t imagine weaving around bigger groups. It would be really sweet to run in Paris though! I love the medal too

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:36 am Reply

      Yes, running through Paris is great. All the monuments are so close together that you can run by lots in a short distance

  5. Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner September 13, 2016 at 2:36 pm Reply

    Right after the Boston bombings we had security like this and while it is scary I guess necessary to help us stay safe. I always feel kind of smushed in during these big races. Looks like a fun time though and a great medal
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Apple Zucchini Muffins – Seasonal EatsMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:35 am Reply

      Medal was really cute and much different from past years

  6. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets September 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm Reply

    Yes, it seems that security at races is now the the new normal. That was such a crowded event though – I cant’ believe you had to wait so long before starting! Still, I’m so envious and would love to run in Paris one day. Love the medal and that you were able to run this with your friends!
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    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:35 am Reply

      There are so many great races here. Just be sure to sign up early, many sell out quickly.

  7. lacey@fairytalesandfitness September 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm Reply

    Sound like a fun race but I wouldn’t love all the people that walk it or that long wait before the start. Cute medal!
    lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…What I Learned About Race Walking Will Surprise You.My Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:34 am Reply

      I am just happy we didn’t wait in the rain or hot sun.

  8. Chaitali September 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm Reply

    Oh man, that 3 hour wait would have been so frustrating to me. I’m glad you at least liked the new course 🙂 It actually sounds nice having a straight out and back by the river.
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    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:33 am Reply

      I was really surprised how much I liked the course

  9. Marcia September 13, 2016 at 9:29 pm Reply

    That pre-race wait is a killer. After this experience you won’t bat an eye when you see the security measures at NYCM. So many checkpoints, pat downs, bag checks, dogs. Sigh. That medal is festive and fun and I’m glad you made the best of it.

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:32 am Reply

      Yes, I figured after what happened in Boston there would be security in NY. However, I ran a race there in June and there was no security. Maybe it is just the big iconic races ?

  10. Rachel September 13, 2016 at 9:34 pm Reply

    37,000 runners this year. THAT is crazy!!! It looks like an amazing time and the medal is fantastic, but holy cannoli! I hate big races and I’m running Marine Corps in October. Should be interesting… 😉

    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:31 am Reply

      I actually love big races but the walkers threw this one for a loop. Good luck on MC !

  11. Melanie @ HappyBeingHealthy September 14, 2016 at 7:30 am Reply

    Wow, what a cool race!!! To begin and end at the Eiffel tower…I can’t even imagine! You are so lucky to live in Paris and to be a runner there. Amazing!
    It’s nice to see that they have such great security measures in place even though I’m sure it’s annoying. It’s sad they have to do that, but I’m glad they do!!
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    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:30 am Reply

      Thanks Melanie, I am lucky. Despite the craziness of France at the moment, living here is my dream. I love everything about my life.

  12. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy September 14, 2016 at 2:35 pm Reply

    That medal is to die for!

    My very first half was Vegas and just as big, and yeah, the walkers were seriously a pain. I don’t mind people walking, but do you really need to link up 4 people and block everyone else?

    I think I was in something like the 30th wave for that one . . . and it was COLD.

    I still had a great time; sorry it wasn’t much fun for you this time.
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    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:29 am Reply

      Luckily I was with friends, or I really would have NOT enjoyed it. I like big races but this was was a bit crazier than most.

  13. Runaway Bridal Planner September 16, 2016 at 1:18 am Reply

    With everything France has had to deal with lately it’s probably a very good thing they do security checks. Any little extra bit of safety is worth it!
    I would imagine sad to say it will be like that more and more around the world with large events and races. The Marine Corps Marathon in DC has been doing this for a while or at least they did in 2012 when I ran it. I thought it was funny to get a pat down from a cute marine to get into the start area, LOL I think they did it on smaller scale in the NYC marathon too when I ran it.
    Sounds like a fun race, minus the tons of walkers. I am all for runners and walkers as they all deserve to be out. But I’ve always thought they should start walkers behind all the runners. I mean they always let the elites go first and get down the road a ways before letting the rest of the runners go, seems only fair to do this with the walkers too!
    But sounds like a fun race, and in such a beautiful location by the tower running AMAZING! Love the medal that’s a cute one!!!
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    • Karen - Fit in France September 17, 2016 at 6:27 am Reply

      Yes, I think the security has become the new normal, unfortunately. And I agree too on the walkers… there usually are not very many in France, but I have done US races where there are quite a few. This is actually the only race here where I have seen so many.

  14. Elizabeth September 20, 2016 at 10:32 pm Reply

    I’m with you: I support walkers getting out there and know that sometimes this is their first race and I don’t want to discourage anyone… but, man, it is so tough to watch people walking 5-6 across and not move out of the way. I wish everyone knew basic race etiquette (walking is ok, just move to the side!). I’ve done two all-female races in the past 2 weeks and it’s a fun atmosphere. And I also placed higher than normal!
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