What excites you about a race, or why do you decide to do a particular one? For me, it is all about the “something new”, I love to see & experience new places, and get stuck into a trail I haven’t tried before, simple!
The excitement of arriving in a new country, getting to your accommodation and figuring it all out is just brilliant and Ecotrail Paris did not disappoint on any level, (bar my own race but I’ll get into that later!)
Ecotrail Paris is the largest trail running event in France, attracting over 13,000 people over seven different race distances and types. It’s usually held in March and more info on the event can be found here – https://www.ecotrailparis.com
1. Before the Race & Getting There
To get to Paris from Ireland is easy – just shop around for flights, I flew from Dublin to Paris by Trasavia who I had never used before but they were wonderful. You fly into Orly, get one of the many buses (approx. €20) into the city and from there you can navigate your way to where you are staying by google maps. Google maps was a life saver, gave you each train and where you get off and how far the walk to the next one was. It did not take me long to get into the swing of it. I flew out of Beauvais on a Ryanair flight. Beauvais is like a cattle shed and I would not recommend it at all – so if you don’t have to fly Ryanair, I wouldn’t!
Just to note to race an Ecotrail Paris race you will need a signed medical certificate. As far as I am aware this is standard practice in France.
2. Where to Stay
We stayed near the Eiffel Tower as this is where all the Ecotrail Paris action happens after the races and indeed for bib collection too. It was an airBnB and worked out perfectly. You collect your numbers and race pack at the Centre Sportif which is just around the corner from the Eiffel Tower.
3. Bib Collection
The Centre Sportif was buzzing when we got there. The collection of numbers and race pack was extremely easy and quick. The only thing to look out for was the Metro / Train ticket was not included in our packs and you collect them separately. I guess they are different for each race but a great offering from Ecotrail Paris! From the collection we were guided upstairs to the exhibition area. We got our posters on the way in (these are a cartoon poster for each race) and also a little Eco bin to carry in our packs. Then onto experience the rest of the exhibition. We made our own smoothies with the pedal power of a bike! Yum… there was an energy ball making area & a big Solomon area with loads of gear. I brought my old pack to be fixed which they did in no time, this was a service you pre-register for but cost nothing!! I was well impressed. The Ecotrail International Stand was there too with some great races on offer – the question is where to go next!!
4. Exploring Paris
After the exhibition, we went off on a little explore of Paris!! Fatima has never been to Paris and I think it’s 25 years since I’ve been there so we were newbies on a mission to see some great stuff but not walk too far as Fatima had 45km and I had 80km to run the next day! So, we hopped on and off the RER and headed to Montmartre where we had the most divine ice cream, went up to the Sacre-Coeur, had croissants and enjoyed the view of the city. We then headed to Notre Dame and enjoyed the art along the river. There are so many cool spots to visit in Paris!!
5. On The Day
Morning of, give yourself plenty of time to get to your start point. Don’t do what I did and get on the wrong train! I ended up getting an Uber from my wrong train stop point to the start of my race. All the races start in different locations so just make sure you know where you are going!
No. 6 The Start Area
The start area was full of buzz and great atmosphere – loads of people, water stations, drop bag area and a station to attach the timer tag to your bag. The drop bag area was well organised in numbers. There was a queue at the beginning of the race as it went off in waves. It got pretty squishy in the queue to start!! The 80km race does not start till 11.30am
No. 7 Aid Stations
There were 4 aid stations for the 80km – one was just water. They had everything you could want at the other aid stations. Lots of food, hot and cold and drinks – they did run out of coke at the middle aid station. I’d make sure to have lots of water with you if it was a warm day as the aid stations felt very far apart. I did not have a good day and felt unwell for a lot of the race so perhaps I felt that the aid stations were far apart because of this.
No. 8 The Route
The 80km route is quite flat for the first 20km and then the hills start. The hills are forest type inclines and were quite muddy and there were lots of them. I’d say 90% of the run was through forests with plenty of lakes or ponds as they are called in Paris. At every crossing, the traffic was stopped by marshals and your run was never interrupted. The last 10km is flat again, down the river Seine and can be tough as you can see the Eiffel Tower but it feels very far away!!
No. 9 The Epic Eiffel Tower Finish
The finish area up to and including the Eiffel Tower was epic! There were loads of people cheering and supporting the runners heading into the Eiffel Tower. We then headed up to the first floor which is a series of flights of stairs – not easy after putting in an 80km day!! But oh so worth it. What a finish to a race. So impressive. We got a great medal upon arrival and there was an aid station with drinks there too.
No. 10 The Aftermath
After the race, you can get the lift down from the first floor to the ground! Thank God!! The truck with the drop bags was out-side the Centre Sportif which was only a short walk away. The centre has showers etc. but I got my gear and headed to a restaurant with the rest of them who were all changed already. The facilities are wonderful and you will be well looked after.
The results were online the next day and photos emailed directly to each participant with their individual photos and videos from the day. These can be purchased as a set or individually all available online.
All in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience. It’s such a well organised race with super atmosphere and a finish you won’t get anywhere else in the world. Would I recommend it, yes, definitely!