So the first week of our holiday was to be in and around Paris, couple of days at Disneyland, typical tourist stuff and hopefully before we drive down south a visit to the Paris parkrun at the Bois de Boulogne. Couple of bucket list things in the mix. Wanted to run along the banks of the Seine and wanted to race abroad. Took advantage of the Calais outlets and got some Pegasus 32s cheap and some new sweatbands.
Our accommodation was right on the banks and I managed 3 runs. The first a daft Wee loop where I got lost and was trying to get rid of a cheap wine hangover. The second day was a belter. An out and back 8 mile trail run along the banks of the Seine. The sun was shining, the river was gorgeous, the trail flat, green as far as the eye could see. Had to stop about 7k and turn as we were going to see Mickey Mouse and wasn’t sure where next bridge was to loop back, but it was everything I had wanted and hoped for. Running perfection.
The next day I got up earlier before going to see that Moaning Lisa lassie and did the same run but without turning back. Took a punt, kept going and a bridge was only a mile or so further on. Got to other side and had no idea where I was going and was on mad country roads with drivers trying to kill me. Lost in France indeed. Then went to see Lisa and took a picture of a big ball.
So Saturday came and unfortunately I was carrying an extra passenger of a belly made of 5 days of fast food. Wasn’t that bothered as just wanted to run Paris, no expectations. Eventually found the right bit of the park beside the Roland Garros and met some fellow parkrun tourists from England, Wales, France and Australia. Really nice and friendly atmosphere. Was chatting to an ex Edinburgh AC runner now living in Paris. He asked me my time and when I told him I ran 18.17 last week he said I’d win. Aw naw. Pressure.
Up to the start line after a briefing in both French and English and we were off. I was at the front and decided to take it on despite not knowing the course. Over the next 2k I shook off the whole field. Except one guy. Simon Long of Clapham stuck on my shoulder. First 2k in an average of 3.41, so standard. But third k and the second incline and the wheels came off. A 3.59 k and Simon went away. I was trying to keep on his tail but he was turning the screw. We looped past the finish with one small lap to go and I was playing hang on. Had already chucked it and was wanting to hold onto second.
Now in the photo that I’m behind Simon you can see a fork in the path. Simon is running right. We were supposed to go left. I started going wrong way before getting shouted back but Simon was further ahead and suddenly I was back in the lead again with a mile to go. In a real race would I have taken the opportunity and kicked hard from here and went for the win? After all not my fault he went the wrong way. Maybe. But it’s parkrun, not the Olympics. I just kept going steady rightly or wrongly, waiting for him to catch up and he did it quickly and he was away again. He had a lot more in the tank, won’t kid myself. Up the slope again and round to the finish jumping over nettles to finish in second in a time of 18.39, only 12 seconds behind. The third came in a further 2 minutes down. Interestingly the nationalities of the top 4 were English, Scottish, French, Welsh. And with it being Paris the course was heart shaped. Awwww.
Not my best run ever. Not my worst. I ran pretty poorly to be honest but another sub 19, another top 3, and another bucket list entry scratched. It was good fun running there and I’m really glad and grateful that I got the opportunity. My post mortem on why I’m getting slower can wait, this was about the experience and I’d recommend it to anyone. Thanks to all the volunteers at the parkrun du Bois de Boulogne. A lovely event. But special thanks to my wife Elaine who braved driving in Paris to get me my wee dream. Her face when we turned a corner and saw the Arc de Triomphe in the distance was a picture 🙂 thank you X.
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