I read a good blog recently about vacation running by Lazy Girl Running. I’ve been running on vacation before in Italy and Portugal and even a weekend in Brighton, but only a couple training runs – and small training runs at that. Laura says you should make a goal of miles to run on vacation and then reduce it by 10%. Things like wine and cheese seem to always get in the way of the best laid running plans.
So on this trip, Alex and I decided to sign up for a race to keep our intentions on track. Alex, currently in training for the Virgin London Marathon, signed up for the 24km Riviera Classic that starts in Italy, runs through France and ends in Monaco.
I kept things more simple and entered the Monte Carlo 10k race that follows the famous F1 Grand Prix route through the streets of Monaco.
The organisation of the race was great – the website was informative and easy to sign up online. Also, very cheap for a race in Europe. You do have to get a medical certificate signed by a doctor (French rules), and with the NHS that can cost anywhere from £25-50 – but the certificate is good for a year, so the more races you do in France the better deal it is!
The pre-race Expo was easy to find and not too hard to navigate, even with the little French we could speak. We got our shirts and race numbers (and had to produce a physical copy of our medical certificate even though we had already uploaded it online) and they had separate girls/boys shirts which sucked. I hate the fit of women’s shirts (always too short with stupid half sleeve caps) and was not allowed to take a men’s small shirt. Oh well, it was bright yellow neon – so there was that positive. We also got some anti-chaffing jelly and some energy gel (don’t get them mixed up).
There was some confusion over the actual race start time as the emails and website said contradicting times, and we think we could get free train travel to the race, but weren’t sure if we had to buy a ticket or just use our race number. We decided to risk it and not buy a ticket and if caught say we thought our race numbers were the tickets – but luckily we didn’t get caught!
As I arrived in Monte Carlo it was pouring rain – but let up just in time to start the race. Baggage drop and the tents were well posted, and the warm up was very energetic (long though – about 25 minutes! A serious work out) The race started and we were off – through the tunnels out to the west of Monaco before doubling back and running along the water. There was a pretty big hill around 3km but none others for most of the route.
There weren’t many people in the race so after the initial start there was a lot of room to run and even stop to take some photos (I ran with my camera and a very trendy race belt for the first time). The last third of the race ran along the beaches and then under the Fairmont and Monte Carlo Casino down to the port where the super yachts are “parked”. I was feeling great throughout the run and finished in 55:12, which is a 10k PB by over a minute!
Post run though was where this race when from great to AMAZING. We were given a medal at the finish line and then led into a beer garden that had some great green (and normal) beer, and all the food you could want. Bread, bananas, energy bars, pastries, juices, water. It was so great. The sun decided to come out then too so I waited for Alex while drinking and eating in the sun.
I could get use to this vacation running thing.
Then I went to see Alex finish the last few km of his race, found my official finishing time, and wandered up to see Prince Albert giving out the medals to the winners.
After Alex finished he was sore to say the least – so we wandered over to the massage tent to get him some post-run relief. While I was waiting for him they offered me a sports massage too! It was heaven. No other words to explain how it feels to have someone work out all those kinks from your race legs. Thank you!
From there it was straight to a sidewalk cafe for sandwiches and coca-colas. Such a perfect race day! I can’t say enough about this race and how well it was organised and executed. It was the perfect balance of fun/competition and such a great way to be a little more than “just a tourist” in a new city.
(me also being “just-a-tourist”, running isn’t everything!)
Interested in running in the South of France? Keep an eye out on this website for more information and the 2013 schedule.
Next run trip on the list? La Grande Classique Paris to Versailles run in September!