I hadn’t run a race since my marathon on April 3rd, happy to have some downtime and the lack of structure of a training plan. I had signed up for 2 races in June, The Royal Race on June 19 and another one on Saturday, June 25 (recap coming soon). Needless to say, I was quite impatient to have a race and was looking forward to it.
There are several races that day on the grounds of the Versailles park, around the castle :
- The Royal Race : A 15K for men and women
- The Princess Race : An 8K for women only, where many dress up as princesses
- A couple kid’s races in the afternoon.
I signed up for the 15K, which doesn’t go around the castle but is all through the park and the long canals.
There were only 2 options to pick up your bib : Thursday in a store in Paris, or Saturday in Versailles. I was traveling the Thursday and wanted to avoid going to Versailles, with traffic, on a Saturday afternoon (it would have taken me 3 hours round trip), so my husband was nice enough to go get it for me.
He picked up the bib and we received a GREAT race t-shirt. The quality is excellent and it fit (almost) perfectly. First time ever that has happened.
I set everything out the night before, as I was getting up early and had to be out of the house by 7 a.m. So I was up, had eaten breakfast, warmed up and was on the road at 6:58 a.m. Without traffic, Versailles is only about 35 minutes from where I live. I got there really early, nailed a great parking spot and walked a mile to the race start.
There were many vendors setting up but I just warmed up, walked around, used the porta potties and dropped off my bag at bag check. Everything was perfectly marked and there were no lines. That is the advantage of being the early bird.
The race was scheduled to start at 9, and there were several waves. I had signed up in the 1 hour 30 minutes + wave, not wanting to push anything with my pesky leg.
I waited patiently while the wave groups filled up. I was surprised there were so many people. Some of them were dressed up or wearing a tiara, like my photo bomber.
There were over 6000 people and waves were going off every couple minutes. I waited at least half an hour before my wave was off, happy I had worn long sleeves. With the humidity it was a bit chilly.
It drizzled a little but at least we had no rain. Indeed, we had had A.LOT. of rain the week before and I hate running in those conditions.
I wasn’t that impressed with the route. This was the closest I got to the castle :
There were long, strait stretches :
And there were cobblestones. And there was mud :
Lots of mud.
There was mud on the cobblestones even. Indeed, it had rained so much the week before that they had to change the race route, and despite that, there was still a ton of mud. Add spilled water from the water stations and it wasn’t great. It made things very slow going. I would estimate that there was at least 2 km of mud.
It was hard going, the mud sucking at my sneakers, my knee was stiff and my hamstring was protesting. But I plodded along. I don’t want to complain because I was running but I would have preferred better conditions.
I finished in 1:43:22, 578 out of 651 in my age group.
What I liked :
- The distance. 15K (a little more than 9 miles) suits me.
- Race day was extremely well organized. Everything was well marked, tons of porta potties, enough refreshments, simple bag check.
- The medal ! and the race tshirt.
What I didn’t like :
- The conditions were awful. While this is not the fault of the race organizers, it was more a trail than a road race. On Monday I felt like I had been hit by a truck.
- Bib pick up. There was not the option of doing this race day and if you don’t live in Versailles or in Paris, and are not available on the 2 days proposed, well tough for you.
- I wasn’t thrilled with the course. I thought it would be prettier, closer to the castle, but it was long and flat.
- It took forever to start, without much atmosphere, nor any porta potties.
Would I do it again ? probably not. Maybe the 8K, where I could dress up. But the experience of the mud just left a dirty taste in my mouth (no pun intended).
Ever run in muddy conditions ? What is your favorite race distance ?