Friday 22 September 2023

One day one photo - 22: Paris-Versailles Grande Classique just got real

At the Palais des Sports, Robert Charpentier 
I arrived in Paris this morning care of FlixBus. I had left it to the last minute to book my transport to Paris, so this was the most cost-effective and hassle-free option. Also, because I travelled at night, it meant I arrived in the French capital in time to have a working day thanks to WIFI in the communal area of my lodgings in Montreuil.
Then after my day's work, and a little run in the nearby park, I took the tube to the Robert Charpentier sports complex at Issy-les-Moulineaux where I picked up my race number for the Paris-Versailles 10-mile running race.

It was a pretty straightforward, no-frills affair. Some volunteers from the local running club handed me my number on presentation of my ID, and then in another room was a map showing the route and a video on loop with GoPro camera footage of the route. 

One of the guys also described Côte des Gardes, the main climb to me. Basically, when I think I am at the top I shouldn't believe it because it climbs and levels out three or four times before I reach the summit. That was a handy tip, but it wouldn't necessarily help me go up it any faster!

There was also a little camera which would take a snap of you with your number and you enter your email address in order to receive it. That was quite handy touch to registration.

It was also while standing in the queue that I got chatting to a fellow runner, Patricia from Brazil. She had come over specially for this race, and was doing it as part of her 50th birthday celebration. Like me, she was staying in the suburbs of Paris - at Tolbiac, in the South, where I was in Montreuil, to the East.

We had contrasting apprehensions though after seeing the weather forecast for warm weather. While I was concerned that I might get too hot at 20°C, she was worried she'd be too cold! She was used to running in 25°C. In any case it would be our first time running this event and we were looking forward to the big day, albeit with a big hill to runner!

Interestingly, when looking on the event Facebook page there were many negative comments  from regulars about the event. They said it was the worst edition of the event in the many years they'd done it. The "event village" was just a simple place to sign on, with no exhibitor stands from sponsors or any other fanfare apart from the camera and the GoPro footage.

This is the 44th edition of the Paris-Versailles Grande Classique race, an event that has attracts almost 25,000 runners from France and all around the world. It must be the biggest 10-mile race in France, and takes place on closed roads between two of the most historic and visited landmarks in the world - the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles.

For such a premium event there should have been more fanfare to match. This year the organisers even decided not to provide a finisher's T-shirt (though lowered the entry fee). But they could have at least made T-shirts available for purchase. 

I couldn't really complain, as a first-timer to the event as I had nothing to compare it to. However, I did bemoan the fact that there were no safety pins provided in the envelope containing my number bib. That's not necessarily something I think of packing when travelling to a prestigious race, I must admit. So my task will be to find some pins before Sunday!

Despite all that, I am looking forward to the race, and the sight of lots of lean-looking people carrying Paris-Versailles envelopes around the streets of south-west Paris has definitely uplifted and inspired me for Sunday. This Paris-Versailles Grande Classique just got real.

No comments: