Why You Should Run the Paris Marathon


There’s been a drought of posts at Full-thyme Student. I whole-heartedly apologize. I’ve been training for a marathon for the past few months, and it was a full-thymetime affair that made it difficult to post as often as I wanted to.

I ran the 2014 Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris on April 6 because not only did I already plan on traveling to Paris during springtime, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could run 26.2 miles. A marathon distance always sounded so impossible for me, but I had already run two half-marathons in the past year and they were some of the most exciting days of my life…I figured a full marathon would be just as fun and even more challenging.

With time and training, I learned that 42.195 kilometers is an insane distance and boy did I regret signing up many times. But the Paris Marathon is one of the most thrilling events I’ve ever experienced. I’m an amateur runner and by no means consider myself a marathoner. So for anybody interested in running the Paris Marathon in the future, I say go for it! Yolo. It’s now or never. Whether your first or sixth marathon is in Paris, France, you will have endless memories and stories for years to come. If you’re considering running the Paris Marathon one day and need a little nudge, here are 15 reasons why you should run it.

1) Kill two birds with one stone.

Not only did I run a marathon in Paris, but I got to travel at the same time. Oh, and training for the marathon has put me in the best shape of my life. So worth it.

2) Get a priceless tour of the most beautiful city in the world.

Even though I felt like I knew Paris pretty well before running the marathon, the city has never felt as magical paris_marathon_2and unfamiliar as it did when I ran through it with thousands of others. How many runners to be exact? There were 40,783 runners at the start line!!! I actually cried during the first kilometer. Paris’s beautiful scenery will do that to you. I will now always have vivid memories of running down the pristine Champs-Élysées, alongside the magnificent Chateau de Vincennes, across from the intricate Notre Dame, and around the glorious Eiffel Tower. You’ll never get that same experience by just sitting in a tour bus.

3) See the bibs of runners from all around the world.

The Paris Marathon is a big fat gathering of runners from everywhere. Riding the metro to the start line at L’Avenue des Champs-Élysées was amazing. People’s bibs had their names, country, and projected finish time. The majority of runners had “FRA” for France, obviously. But seeing “AUS,” “ITA,” and “BRA” made me feel like we were all at a really really international VIP party. Wootwoot.

4) Camaraderie.

Which… FYI comes from the French word for camarade (or comrade). Seeing so many people cheering you on is awesome, with them screaming “ALLEZ! ALLEZ! ALLEZ!” One of the highlights of the race was seeing a dude wave a huge American flag at around 30 kilometers. I freaked out. I ran up right alongside him and squealed, “YEEAAAOOOHHHWWWWWWW!!!!” WOOOHOOOO!” because that was all I could muster…not even a “WOOHOO USA!” When he saw that my bib said USA, he cheered right on back at me. Thanks, guy waving the USA flag.

5) Bein’ a femme fatale feels so badass.

Men outnumbered women enormously at this race. Only 21% of runners were women! Not gonna lie, being a chick felt pretty darn badass at this race.

6) Run through the Tuileries Tunnel: a very dark and long tunnel.

Running in le tunnel des Tuileries was like being at a rave. Things got pretty dark pretty darn fast, with strobe lights aflashin’ and pop songs ablastin’. This wasn’t my favorite part of the marathon, especially since it got a tad bit difficult to breathe in the tunnel. I was gasping for air as soon as I exited the tunnel. But it was still chouette — that’s French for cool.

7) Dodge pedestrians holding baguettes tightly in their arms.

So, I said there were 40,783 runners at the marathon. Did I mention how many pedestrians and onlookers there were? A gajillion. Since the race route was not entirely closed off, there were many large streets where pedestrians could still cross. I had to dodge many thoughtless pedestrians who got lost in a sea of runners and stood there like a lost little puppy with a crusty baguette. It was funny, but equally frustrating.

8) See hundreds of people pee in scenic Parisian parks.

paris_marathon_3Hey, we’re all human. We gotta pee. Running through the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in Paris, was like being at a pee-fest. Not sure if this happens at other large marathons (surely it must), but I did not expect to see so many people stop to squat and piss in Parisian bushes and trees. It was a hoot. It is perhaps the only day when it’s socially acceptable to piss in front of thousands of onlookers.

9) An orange never tasted so good.

My favorite fruit is the orange. There’s just nothin’ as exquisite as a succulent Navel orange on a hot day. And guess what? Volunteers passed out lots and lots of oranges at the water stations….alongside raisins, sugar cubes, and bananas! NOM!

10) It’s like being in real-life Mario Kart: dodge the banana peels!

Volunteers passed out lots of bananas at the water stations. Which means all the banana peels must go somewhere…like on the cobblestoned race route. Needless to say, slippery banana peels + water puddles = no bueno. It was totally dangerous and I had to walk during the nightmarish pathway along the water stations… or else risk slipping and dying. My friend who ran the marathon with me said she owned this part of the marathon because she pwns at Mario Kart. #madskillz

11) You can eat whatever the hell you want afterwards.

But like, really. Running 26.2 miles will make you hungrier than the minutes leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. And you’re in the most delicious city in the world! Baguettes, cheese, croissants, etc. are at your finger tips. I shelled out big money for the “premium package” which gave me access to a Parisian buffet afterwards.

12) Everybody needs a good ol’ cathartic cry.

Yes, I cried when I crossed the finished line. Finishing the last 6.2 miles of the marathon was honestly the hardest thing I have ever done. Months of arduous training finally concluded with my successful completion of the marathon. A cathartic marathon cry is a cry worth training for.

13) Hear the cries and screams of other marathoners in the massage room.

As soon as I entered the massage room for marathon finishers, I wanted to shut off my brain. I saw blisters being popped, blackened toe nails being tended to, and muscles being caressed. One lady had a cramp so bad she wailed the loudest shriek I have ever heard. But the masseuses were angels. A massage has never felt so deserved.

14) Feel inspired.

I just can’t explain what it’s like to be alongside thousands of other runners. Talk about inspiration overload. Runners inspire me because they get up and literally GO. You need paris_marathon_4nothing else but motivation and running shoes. And maybe an iPod. The compounded months of intense training is what I’m most proud of. It’s the journey, not the destination. Because to get to the destination (i.e., the finish line), the journey involved many, many, many miles. So really, I ran a lot more than just 26.2 miles to get to the finish line.

15) Check off “Run a Marathon in Paris” off your bucket list.

I felt a huge sense of accomplishment after all of this ended. And I like to check things off my bucket list. And “running a marathon” just happened to be on my list. And Paris will always be more magical than any other city. J’adore Paris!

If you’re considering running the Paris Marathon one day, bon courage!!! You can do it!

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