Marathon de La Rochelle
Report – Susan Hunt
My mate Linda and I had always fancied a seaside marathon so we entered Blackpool in 2020. After it was cancelled twice due to COVID, we decided to upgrade to La Rochelle instead.
Our posher seaside destination meant we soon persuaded some fellow FV50s to join us and last weekend the “old birds” went on tour (a slogan which went on our hoodies, and totally bewildered the French).
La Rochelle marathon is the 2nd largest in France (after Paris) and this was its 31st edition. The hardest part of a marathon can often be making it to the start line this was definitely true in our case.
First, we’d had to obtain the mandatory medical certificate (in a time when getting an appointment with your GP feels akin to securing an audience with the Pope) and then we’d had to endure a horrifyingly bumpy 11 hour cross channel ferry ride and survive a 4 hour drive on the wrong side of the road.
Running 26.2 miles was going to be doddle!
The flat 2 lap course took in the harbour, old port and medieval city centre and finished with half a mile on every marathon runners’ favourite surface: cobbles.
Of the 12000 runners, about half were solo and the rest were in relay teams of either 2 or 4.
The atmosphere was just incredible, with crowds lining the route telling us to “allez” and 12 bands playing (one every 2km).
It was my 37th marathon and the first where oysters were offered at aid stations. It was also the first in my SAC vest, which drew lots of comments from French runners (happily most were about Shakespeare and none were about Brexit).
At the end, we were rewarded with a great medal, a box of 6 oysters, a wind jacket (look out for me showing off in it at track night) and the ladies also got a rose. Oh and a rice pudding.
I may be slowing down but I was proud to have run every step and my time of 4:23:02 was a significant improvement on last month’s marathon at Loch Ness, where I ran 4:23:50.
Now to decide which marathon we’ll do next instead of Blackpool…