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