Before the start
«Daddy and Grandpa are the best!»
Before the race, it’s already a little bit of a marathon. What goes on at the « most beautiful avenue in the world » before the start of the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris? Here’s a picture post card!
It’s a beautiful morning, the sky is really blue. The Champs-Elysées is buzzing with impatient and slightly cold silhouettes. Voices become joyful at the metro exit. « Here we are! The games are about to begin. It’s time to give it our all.. »
It’s 8:00am, and the pacers are putting on the flags that will soon guide thousands of runners. Jeff Tatard ran the 2012 Marathon de Paris with the time of 2:34. This year, he will set a slower tempo. His objective is 3 hours! « It’s a new adventure,» he whispers without worry.
At the 3:45 start area, Sophie is already there, with an empty look. « Yes, there’s a lot of stress,» she recognizes. « I’m afraid of how it will feel, that I may not do as well as I would like. » This is her second marathon. She wants to run it in under 4 hours. A little further along, an Israeli family is encouraging Kfir. He says, « What a fantastic day! It’s perfect! » Joëlle and Sandrine, two ladies from Marseille who are discovering the French capital’s marathon, are also speaking in superlatives. « This is enormous, so incredibly well-organized! The volunteers are super nice. Really, it’s just great, » exclaims Sandrine.
New record with 39,967 runners at the start!Return to the Avenue. Richard is with his wife and children. He is one of the 4,107 British participants. Why did he pick Paris, like so many of his compatriots? « It’s an invasion, » he laughs. « Paris is a major marathon, like London. The race has a good reputation! » Did he come for the city or for the marathon? « I came for the marathon, » he responds. « However, my family is here for Paris! »
A little further along, a family is snacking on muffins while waiting for the start. Holhann seems quite at home in his push-chair. Above his head is an enormous poster stating, « Daddy and Grandpa are the best! » « I hope they will see us, » worries the boy’s grandmother. « With so many people, it’s not going to be easy. » Garaze kisses her boyfriend before he heads off to the red start area. « We’re from the Basque Country region. We hit the road a few days ago and have been sleeping in the van. »
A few minutes from the start, Kelly is skipping around in the preferential start area. This « California Girl, » who now lives in Tours, is impatient to get going. « I want to run it in less than 3 hours, » she assures. « I had a little boy, named Cohen, ten months ago. My husband is a professional volleyball player. He has a game tonight. Both of them are at home. I’m going to run while thinking of them. »
It’s now 8:40am. 39,967 runners are ready to start the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. The first record of the day has already been beaten. Paris is sparkling with excitement. It’s time to run 42.195km in the streets of the most beautiful city in the world. There’s a big bang, and they’re off...