Montauban Semi Marathon
29th March 2009


Official Result

Bob Wells 1:26:20

Bob Reports on the Race:

My second attempt to race in S.W. France was considerably more successful than at the Blagnac Half where my medical certificate was rejected because it did not mention the word competition. (Incidentally, I have subsequently spoken with a budding local triathlete who has had to go back to his doctor three times to get each athletic competition added in sequence!). The town of Montauban organised a 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon – all starting simultaneously and using the same roads.  The marathon was two laps, the Half one and the 10K took a short cut towards the end of the first lap. I chose to enter the Half.

The pre-race scenario was quite familiar although I have previously only been offered pre-race refreshments at the Boston Marathon. The highly-choreographed musical warm-up session reminded my of our chairman’s efforts at Wootton but the volume and energy painfully far exceeded anything witnessed in rural Beds. I imagine Steve Crane would have some wry comments about the course (trip-you kerbs and unmarked posts in the middle of some the cinder track sections) but the roads were effectively closed for the race by the army (I suspect a soldier with a gun would be more effective than a few attractive high-viz jackets at Oakley bridge!). And with drinks, oranges and bananas provided every 5km there was little chance to work up an appetite for Sunday lunch. The route was interesting and attractive (around the town and across the Garonne bridges) enough to attract many non-racers for an organised walk round the 10K course in the afternoon.

Most runners found the weather (15C) cool and wore sleeves but, somewhat to my surprise, my conspicuous sleeveless Harriers’ vest did not attract a single comment (to me). I was well-pleased with my 1:26:??.??(timing to 0.01sec!)displayed on the board in the finish area because this was my first race for some time and my enthusiasm had been waning a little.  It made me 34th overall and 1st V3 (= MV60).

It was the post-race session that was very different to the UK. Having returned your chip you were immediately invited to enjoy quite substantial refreshments. Then you passed through a large marquee with “ 3 médicins, 6 kinés, 3 podologues et 5 ostéopathes” to look after you (possibly if you had overeaten?). Following that you put your race number in a raffle (for a weeks’s holiday for 2 in Tunisa) and received a wooden box and a book of tickets. You took these tickets to stalls in the associated fair (locals in period costume, bands, dancing displays, roundabouts for children ….) and collected goodies from local businesses for each ticket. And what goodies to fill the wooden box! -

-A bottle of Montauban Marathon wine

-250g of local honey

-A pair of running socks

-A wrist-band holder for your audio system (I had to have that one explained to me by somebody half my age)

-3 cakes

-A sweet pastry

-Fresh bread

-A carton of orange juice

-3 packets of Smarties-like sweets

-A ticket for month’s use (EUR 34.90) of a local gym

-A ball-point pen from a young man who offered personally to prepare a VO2 training plan for me to attain my objectives

and a Montauban Tee shirt

(The entry fee for this event was 10 euros)

The 10K prize presentation was a lavish affair involving lots of flowers and embracing. I was not sorry that I had to catch a train back to Toulouse and missed the Half awards ceremony – I’m still having trouble remembering to shake hands with colleagues when I first see them every day and I’m not yet quite ready to be publicly embraced by another V3 with a moustache!.

Still learning.


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