Marathon de La Rochelle
It was cold and wet for yesterday's Marathon de La Rochelle which celebrated the 2500th anniversary of the battle which originated interest in the distance. La Rochelle now has some claim to be the second marathon of France (after Paris) with 10000 entrants and two starting points this year.
There were several Ethiopian elite entries and they won 5 of the first 6 places in the Ladies' race and provided the Mens' winner, Haile Haja, who finished an hour ahead of me in a record 2:09. So much for my observations of the miserable conditions.
The start was spectacular, with Ride of the Valkyries played (very loudly) around the port and fireworks exploding round the famous port towers. I guess the very dark, overcast conditions helped the daytime pyrotechnics if not the runners. There were lots of enthusiastic spectators not only in the port but all the way round the two-lap course.
My original target time of sub-3 had been abandoned a couple of weeks before the event in the light of reality and instead I set myself the objective of running even splits. This started well - I suppose that goes without saying!- and I did a 1:31 half. However, the "wall" came early for me in the guise of a railway underpass on the second lap. I entered feeling fine but emerged 50 yards later slow and cold. That was a very sudden demise! Those I had left for dead started to stream past. The last 10 miles were a difficult battle of survival somewhat reminiscent of events in 490BC. All finishers were presented with a medal, a running jacket and two-dozen oysters but only the warmth of the top was of any interest to me at the time.
The prize presentation was an elaborate affair held in a large cinema with a film of the the race showing and inevitable speeches from VIPs. Attendance was boosted considerably by a draw for packages for the New York and St Petersburg marathons. My 3:09:21 (695th overall) was, undeservedly, good enough for 1st (of 373) in my age category (MV3) and I had a stiff moment of glory on the podium to receive a very large trophy.
When I got back to Toulouse and emptied my race bag I read some small print in the race brochure that there was a 300euro prize for 1st MV3 but "cheques will be distributed uniquely at the prize-giving". No claim, no prize. Avery Brundage would be proud of me!
Race Results :