On Saturday my alarm exploded at a slightly earlier time than I am used to and I dragged myself out of bed for my first morning as a 29 year old man. It also happened to be my first morning in Paris and time for my first international parkrun! Vicki and I had decide to pop over to France for the weekend and I made the obvious connection that the perfect way to spend my birthday morning would be to complete the newly established ‘parkrun du Bois de Bolougne’. Vicki would be running with me and so we got ourselves ready and jumped on the metro to cross the city. We had a slight panic upon our arrival at the park when we realised that we only had a few minutes to find the start line and the park appeared much larger than we had realised. Fortunately however we managed to turn a corner and spot the run briefing coming to an end just in time for our arrival.
As you can see, it was not the largest of parkruns in the world (compared to the 400+ we normally run with at Pollok, it was tiny!) however it was great to be part of something new and the atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming. As we made our way to the start line I realised that I was not completely sure of the route and so made the decision to try and stick with somebody for the first lap in order to get my bearings. We lined and it was clear that the run was mainly being completed by tourists (the Run Director later told me that they were working hard to attract more locals and that he hoped the run would gain momentum over the weeks).
The start was announced and we sped off along a winding trail through the trees and I managed to tuck in behind the leader. It was a beautiful morning for a run and the park was fantastic for the event. I particularly enjoyed being part of the smaller group of runners and enjoying the community atmosphere. The course was well marshalled and all of the turnings were clearly marked which enable me to stride out a little once we had completed the first section of the course.
As you can see from my face (above!), I really enjoyed the route. There were no climbs at all and it even seemed to feel slightly downhill for a large section. I think that this could definitely be a course with PB potential if being tackled as a ‘race’. I put in a bit of a burst for the final straight of the course and managed to cross the line in a fraction over 17mins. Whilst this was a fair bit away from a PB, I did feel happy with the time as I felt great for the duration of the race. It definitely gave me confidence that I will be back running close to my best pretty soon.
The satisfaction which I felt at picking up the ‘1’ token on the morning of my birthday was tinged with a fraction of frustration however when the run director then informed me that I had only been a few seconds away from the course record! I was gutted! I would have loved to have been able to come home and brag about having that accolade however it was not to be and I will simply have to go back another time and have a second crack at it! The community spirit of the run continued after the finish line and it was great to see the majority of the runners hanging about for a post-run photo and a coffee at an outdoor cafe under the gaze of the Eiffel Tower.
All in all this was a fantastic parkrun (and a great birthday!) and I would definitely recommend it to others when in Paris. The organisers were extremely helpful and offered me advice on travel to and from the park through their Facebook page on the night before the event. They were great to talk to over coffee after the run and had big ideas for parkrun in France. It would be great to see it take off over there in the same way that it has in the UK.
When I returned home from the weekend I managed to stick a quick ‘rate-your-run’ review on the Marathon Talk website and even got a mention on their podcast (taking my competition with Kenny to 2 mentions each!). I am convinced the inclusion of the review on the show was thanks mainly to the fact that it discussed Vicki’s fancy ‘Marathon Talk Buff’ which I bought her for her birthday and which was spotted by a couple of other Parisian parkrunners. I figured therefore that it would only be right to stick a picture of said ‘buff’ on here too for your own admiration. Enjoy! x