Race Series: How I Survived the Paris-Versailles 16K Race!

Running an international race was on my bucket list this year so I jumped at the chance of participating in the Paris-Versailles 16K (which is 10 miles)!  I had run a half marathon earlier this year so I thought it would be a piece of cake.  Wrong.  I was required to have my doctor sign a medical waiver (clue #1).  Since I love Paris and Versailles, I thought this would be a great idea and it would give me a chance to see some beautiful scenery.  I had read the info on the race website and a question was asked about the terrain.  The question was “I’ve never ran the Paris-Versailles, is the race difficult?”  The reply, “The race, in spite of the reputation of the “Côte des gardes”, is still easier than a half marathon. Be careful on the last climb to Viroflay (before the feeding station of km 13) who is redoubtable, as well as the slight incline of the Avenue de Paris in Versailles, which can seem endless.”  (clue #2)  That’s it.  Keep that response in mind for later, k?

I get up, head to Starbucks for yogurt and then take the train to the Eiffel Tower where the race is to start.  Um, why were there several funky folks on the train?  Dude, you haven’t even ran the race yet?  You want to be smelling like booty funk when you wake up?  Hose yourself off and get some deodorant.  The thought going thru my mind was, “what the hell is it going to smell like after the race?” 

So, we arrive at the Eiffel Tower and it is packed.  The race had sold out about a month earlier.
    

View of people walking over the Seine towards the starting line.

I met up with a couple of French colleagues in the starting area (which is packed).  Then, as we are lining up, my colleague says, “Hey, be careful out there because people have died running this race.”  Wait, WHAT?  People have died?  Why wasn’t that in the literature???  He tells me that people always overdo it because they aren’t ready for the huge hill between kilometers 6 and 8.  They don’t pace themselves appropriately.  Then, he says that he saw 2 people die a couple of years ago.  WHAT THE HELL?  WHY AM I JUST NOW HEARING ABOUT THIS MESS?  I AM NOT READY TO DIE.  I HAVEN’T SAID GOOD-BYE!  So, I did the best I could…sent a message on Facebook telling everybody that it’s been a good life & requested they keep me lifted in up prayer.  Ha!

The race has a rolling start but unlike half & full marathons, you aren’t grouped by pace.  They just let a certain amount of people start running every 2 minutes.  Finally, our group is released to start the race.  A couple of things I notice from the start.  First, there is no concept of personal space.  People just run all up on you so you are constantly covered in other people’s sweat.  It’s gross.  And you cannot avoid it.  Second, Port-O-Potties are a suggestion, not a requirement.  While they have some at the hydration stations, most people just stopped running and urinated on the side of the road.  Men AND WOMEN.  I don’t need to see Jean-Claude whip out his junk and I certainly don’t need to see Chanel pull her pants down and squat.  Really?  On the side of the road???  I can’t take it.

Once I’m over that, I’m able to continue focusing on my run.  Then, I see some guys running in chicken costumes.  In the heat…for 10 miles.  I’m sure that seemed like a neat concept in theory.  By the 3km marker, the chicken head had come off and was tossed to the side…by the 6km marker, the entire suit was tossed.

  

I’m just running along and then I come to the 6km marker and see what I’m gonna call the “Hill to Jesus”.  It went straight up.  Seriously?  What the hell?  I just started looking around for a train or bus stop because I just knew that I the hill would kill me and I would have to ask Jesus to help me out.  As I start my Jesus quest, I’m thinking that I have 20 Euro and could either find a taxi or bribe a kid to let me hop on his scooter.  The 2 km Jesus run seemed like it was 26 miles.  I honestly didn’t think I would make it.  I cursed myself out the entire time I was running (while I listened to Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would of Made it” to give me some encouragement.  Ha!).  I finally made it, gave thanks to Jesus and prayed that it was all downhill after that.  It wasn’t.  However, 11-13km was pretty good.  While I survived the hill, not everybody did.  I saw 3 people being rushed to the hospital via ambulance.  It’s weird passing ambulances that are stationed at every kilometer.  I also ran past several people at the medics tent getting oxygen and other medical care.  You know I was like, “uh…maybe I should just take a quick break and have them check my pressure?”  But, I kept it going.

Then there was another hill.  WTF?!?!?!?  I saw the medic scooter and thought, “I’m saved!”but it flew right on past to help out someone else.  They were probably faking.  I finally come to the last hydration station that has sugar cubes (that’s new for me), oranges, water and Powerade…and they are playing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”…aw yeah!  That gets me hyped and I get a little burst of energy…

And, I finally cross the finish line 2 hours after I started the race.  One more goal achieved!!

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