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April 15, 2012


Paris Marathon 2012

by soundlandscapes

THE THIRTY-SIXTH PARIS MARATHON took place earlier today. More than forty thousand runners from over one hundred countries competed over the 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 kilometres) course from the Champs-Elysées to avenue Foch via the Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne.

The Paris Marathon is one of the five biggest marathons in the world (along with New-York, London, Berlin and Chicago), not only in terms of the size of the field but also by the performances achieved.

I went along to watch the finish in the Avenue Foch. I emerged from Porte Dauphine Metro station just in time to see the Kenyan runner, Stanley Biwott, surge past to win the men’s race in a record time of 2hrs 05 min 12 sec beating the previous record by thirty-six seconds.

Biwott attacked at the 30km mark and came home more than a minute ahead of Ethiopian duo Raji Assefa and Sisay Jisa.

In the women’s race Tirfi Beyene came first in a new record time of 2hrs 21min 39sec.

Although I saw but couldn’t photograph Beyene on the home stretch, I did capture Turkey’s Sultan Haydar who finished second in 2hr 25:09.

Crowd atmosphere:

The Paris Marathon is a serious and gruelling athletics event, but for the crowd it is also a festive occasion with an atmosphere to match.

Adding atmosphere:

This was the first time that I’ve seen the Paris Marathon, or any marathon for that matter, and I was very impressed by the performance of the ‘elite’ women runners. No doubt we shall be seeing them and their male colleagues in the London Olympic Marathon later this year.

Away from the finish line into the Bois de Boulogne I found some more ‘atmosphere’ that was certainly encouraging both the runners and the crowd.

Adding more atmosphere:

Whether an ‘elite’ runner or an enthusiastic amateur, I’m sure that any sort of encouragement is more than welcome as the 42 kilometre mark comes into view!

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. cheryl
    Apr 16 2012

    I ran my 5th marathon yesterday in Paris – 15.04.12. This was my first overseas race, having run my first 4 in London, I was incredibly disappointed by the poor organisation of the Paris race. The day before the race we went to the event Expo, I have never experienced such a long queue. We walked 150m to reach the end of the queue, which then snaked alongside the around the Expo centre.

    There was no race information provided, there was no mention of the blue line to follow – i.e. if you stick to this line this is the most accurate distance, there was no guidance for people who needed to walk – i.e. if you’re walking you need to move to the sides of the road so you do not hold up people still running. As an experienced runner I knew this but the people running clearly didn’t know race etiquette as they hadn’t been provided with this information.

    Onto the race itself, we turned up to the start line, ensuring we stayed hydrated knowing we could empty our bladder before the race, but there were only 2 toilets per pen within the 7 race pens. There were 40,000 people running – it’s simple mathematics there are not enough toilets for the runners. When I did manage to reach a short toilet queue women were urinating around the cubicle which seemed quite desperate. When I eventually reached the toilet I understood why these women had no other choice but use the Champs Elysee as a toilet. The toilet was overflowing with excrement, I was disgusted by this and obviously couldn’t use the toilet. Fortunately I spotted a toilet directly after the start line which did not have a queue outside as people were busy racing, I wasted the first 0.53 seconds of my race using the bathroom – this was very frustrating for me.

    It took approx 30 minutes to cross the start line, London has 3 races starts in parks so you can stretch and run around the park to warm up, there was no space to do this at the Champs Elysee.

    The route was beautiful, though again there continued to be visible lack of organisation with no officials on the route, no words of encouragement, another positive was the fruit provided; this was a wonderful treat and a great snack in between the gooey gels which our stomachs were full of.

    Why would you cycle amongst fatigued runners? I couldn’t believe there were people actually cycling on the roue when we were running. Where were the spector barriers? So many pedestrians were on the road at one point it bottle necked the race.

    Marathon de Paris you need to re-assess your organisation, I had friends who ran the marathon and the half marathon a couple of years ago and both said the organisation was terrible. I hoped that after feedback it would not have been like this. I would never run this race again and anyone considering running it I would recommend looking at the Berlin marathon as it’s supposed to be a great race and the fastest course in the world.

    • Apr 19 2012

      Thanks for your comment Cheryl. I’m so sorry that you had such a dreadful experience on Sunday. I will try to find someone connected with the marathon to pass your comments directly to.
      I do hope that you won’t give up on Paris altogether and that you will come back and enjoy some of the delightful things this city has to offer.

  2. Apr 17 2012

    Love it! The sounds of exhaustion and motivation all in one. By the look of the other comment maybe also the sound of aggravation. Nice to listen to recordings of official activities in the city nonetheless.

    • Apr 19 2012

      Thanks Jay. It was the first time I’d been to the marathon so I thought the finish would be the best vantage point. I watched the start and part of the race from home on TV and then made my way to the finish. Unfortunately I cut it a bit fine and so I just missed recording the great atmosphere when Stanley Biwott appeared and then crossed the line.

  3. sk
    Apr 22 2012

    i ran the paris marahon as my first marathon…overall i had a good experience, but the organisation was lacking. to get into my starting area i lifting the metal barrier with some spanish lads (after waiting 15 minutes just to enter)…the use of trains afterwards was a mess as there were incredibly long lines inside the trainsation to pass the barriers and buy tickets…why not just have transport from the champ-elysee for free to allow ppl to pass though quickly?…

    excellent race however, no complaints about the track itself…a few riders and pedestrians on the track, but they were just caught up in the excitement to encourage ppl….as a male i had no problems with toilets, but i am totally sympathetic with female runners

  4. Apr 24 2012

    I ran the Paris 2012 marathon as my first ever marathon, and just documented my experience on my blog. I had similar reactions to the Paris marathon as Cheryl, but this being my first time I didn’t really have anything to compare it to. I also had to empty my bladder before the race, but ended up being one of the desperate ones… embarrassing to say the least.

  5. Sheena
    May 6 2012

    Glad to hear that someone else had a poor experience in the recent Paris marathon. This was my first marathon and I travelled from Australia to be there. I was amazed that by the time I reached the 20km mark the refreshment stations and entertainment was being packed up!! I had to dodge street sweepers and trucks to find a water bottle and only after finding someone to ask. Worse still, after following the empty water bottles to know where the route was after it seems the volunteers had been sent home, I and a group of others lost our way and spent the last 10kms asking the public the way back to the Finish line.of course this was very difficult as I don’t speak French. Finally made it to the finish line to thankfully still get a medal and shirt and a time!! As for refreshments they had been packed away too. Walked around ( not a preference after running 42km) and managed to get someone to give me a bottle of sports drink to refresh. Not good after such a marathon. Fruit? What fruit? All gone!! A shockingly organized event. Not good enough when entrants pay the same registration fee but get treated very differently. Add the cost of getting there and I was bitterly disappointed.


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