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April 7, 2014


The Paris Marathon 2014

by soundlandscapes

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH PARIS MARATHON took place yesterday. 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 the Avenue Foch via the Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne.


In 2012, I watched the race and recorded sounds close to the finish in the Avenue Foch so this year I thought I would find a vantage point somewhere near the start.

I wanted to capture the sounds of all the runners passing by so at just before eight o’clock on Sunday morning I established my pitch and set up my microphones in the rue de Rivoli just beyond the one-mile point.


When I arrived, the rue de Rivoli seemed a little eerie. It was the only time since I’ve lived in Paris that I’ve seen this most elegant of streets completely deserted – save for the police trucks hastily towing away the last remaining parked cars which I’m sure completely ruined several people’s day!

The Paris Marathon starts in the Champs Elysées and the first to start were the wheelchair athletes. At a little after 8.30 and accompanied by a convoy of police and official cars they passed by me.



Following the wheelchairs came the handisports athletes including several blind runners each tethered to a guide.

Paris Marathon 2014 – Wheelchair and Handisports Athletes:



The sound of these athletes passing was soon subsumed by the sound of the French television helicopter slithering sideways overhead with its powerful cameras trained on the elite athletes who were about to enter the rue de Rivoli.


At the head of the elite group was a tightly packed bunch of world-class marathon athletes setting what was to prove to be a blistering pace.


And quite close behind came another elite group including two of the fastest women in the race.


And next came the best of the rest.


Paris Marathon 2014:


After the elite group and the best of the rest, a mass of runners converged in the rue de Rivoli each with their own personal challenge ahead of them. Wave after wave of them passed me right down to the very last man.


The last runner to enter the rue de Rivoli

I stayed in my place on rue de Rivoli and recorded the sounds until every one of the competitors in this year’s Paris Marathon had passed by me. It took a little under two hours for them all to pass.

I didn’t think about it at the time but I now know that about ten minutes after the last runner entered the rue de Rivoli with about 26 miles of running still ahead of him, the winner was crossing the finishing line in the Avenue Foch.

And the winner was Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia.


Image via ‪

Bekele, the three-time Olympic champion on the track and 5,000m and 10,000m record holder, crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 3 seconds – breaking the previous course record set by Kenya’s Stanley Biwott in 2012.

In the women’s race, the pre-race favourite, Flomena Cheyech of Kenya finished in a new personal best time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 41 seconds.

The double Paralympic silver medallist, Marcel Hug, won the wheelchair race.

The first six men and women finishers were:


1. Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:05:03

2. Limenih Getachew (ETH) 2:06:49

3. Luca Kanda (KEN) 2:08:01

4. Robert Kwambai (KEN) 2:08:48

5. Jackson Limo (KEN) 2:09:05

6. Gideon Kipketer (KEN) 2:10:35


1. Flomena Cheyech (KEN) 2:22:44

2. Yebrqual Melese (ETH) 2:26:21

3. Zemzem Ahmed (ETH) 2:29:35

4. Faith Chemaoi (KEN) 2:31:59

5. Gebisse Godana Derbi (ETH) 2:36:27

6. Martha Komu (FRA) 2:36:33


All the sounds I recorded in the rue de Rivoli have been consigned to my Paris Soundscapes Archive as a permanent record of yesterday’s event.

Incidentally, why is it that some women runners who see a man wearing headphones standing behind a microphone on the edge of the road give a wave and a friendly smile whereas some men insist on leaning over and shouting into the microphone? Maybe it’s a question of testosterone overload!

In all, 39,115 athletes completed the 2014 Paris Marathon. Here are more images of some of them as they began their marathon run around Paris.

















5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Horizon Horizon
    Apr 8 2014

    Thanks again! I love to listen to your podcasts. This weekend is the Rotterdam Marathon.So the whole city is blocked, haha.

    Met vriendelijke groet,

    Chrit Wilshaus, freelance (audio)journalist,

    Tekstinzicht Audio (producent audiomagazine Horizon) 010 – 599.0910 06 -2123.7614 Jongkindstraat 9 d 3141 JG Maassluis

    • Apr 12 2014

      Thanks Chrit. Enjoy your Rotterdam marathon. I hope you will be out recording its sounds.

  2. hmunro
    Apr 12 2014

    You continue to astound me, Des: I think this is the most complete and engaging réportage I’ve seen of the Paris marathon — ever. I am in awe both of your powers of observation, and of your superb ability to describe what you see and hear. You’ve gone way beyond creating a sound archive of the marathon here; you’ve actually created an *experience.* Fantastic!

    • Apr 12 2014

      Thank you so much Heather. Your comment has made my day!

      I’m so pleased that you enjoyed my view of this year’s Paris Marathon.

      As you know, I love this city and its sounds and sharing my enthusiasm with others makes all the effort worthwhile.

  3. Lynette Joy Price
    Aug 5 2014

    Hi Thank you for doing this. It brought back memories. I was one of the runners, taking on the challenge after our 25yr old London based daughter asked me to join her in this “bucket list” goal. Your site is informative and answered my question as to how many runners actually did it. The Organization running it had said 50,000 on their web site. I am from NZ and Paris truly was a very beautiful place to run. I had never run a marathon before not even a half marathon, but with training and lots of help from God, I reached the finish line in 5 hrs 32min.Thankyou for all your efforts.


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