We headed out to Geneva to run Becky's (my wife’s) first marathon. To be honest we hadn’t heard of the event when it popped up in a Facebook advert. We looked at the cost of the event (£50 each) and then waited until Easyjet flight prices from Manchester (£50 each) were announced. It was only when we had worked out the combined price of the race, flights and hotel that we decided it was pretty good value really. Plus, of course, we were really drawn by the chance to visit a beautiful part of the world.
The way the whole event was organised was pretty much flawless. The registration (also the race finish) is easy to find right in the centre of the city. It was so easy to find your way round as each area (bib collection, race information etc) was all signposted very clearly. Everyone was very helpful and even though we had a few questions these were all handled quickly and efficiently by people who had all the information that they needed to answer our questions. There was plenty to drink, and it was nice to be provided with some free sun block as the forecast was hotter than expected.
Photos and Video
The HD quality race video that you receive afterwards was great. We bought the extended version and thought it was worth the money. The photos were also great but it was a bit disappointing that they were all taken in the city and there were no shots of the spectacular mountain backdrop.
The course was flat. Very flat. The finish is actually 50m lower than the start. There are some very gentle inclines in the first half but these are nothing to make a difference to speed by more than a few seconds. The last half of the race is absolutely pancake flat. It runs along the side of the lake and in to the city centre before a spectacular finish on the Pont De Mont Blanc (the big famous bridge right next to the jet d’eau fountain.) If you are looking for a PB course this could be it, especially as there are relatively fewer runners (less than 2000) compared with most big marathons. That is in part due to the fact that 16,000 people do a wide range of events over the weekend. 6,000 did the Half Marathon and there is also a relay marathon.
Did we enjoy it then?
You bet we did. The warm air was such a welcome after training in freezing temperatures in England. We also loved running through stunning yellow fields of Rapeseed with swiss villages peeping out and, of course, a backdrop of snowy Alps which kept our attention in the far distance. The atmosphere was very friendly and it was great to be amongst such an international group of runners.
Hints and tips for anyone considering running
Even though you will have a ticket for free transport around the city on the day of the marathon, I suggest staying within walking distance of the city centre. We stayed near the airport and although we benefitted from cheaper restaurant prices and it was only a 20 minute bus ride this is a long way when you are tired and you could access some of the city centre hotels more easily.
Check the weather
We have very hot (26 degrees) running conditions. In 2015 the weather was very wet and colder. As you would expect with any running event in Spring, be prepared for anything and make sure you check the forecast carefully before you travel!
How to prepare yourself for the this race
This is a pb course with relatively less support from the crowd compared with most big city marathons. Get used to motivating yourself and also using the natural environment around you for motivation - there’s enough of that around the course.
Remember you are well supported with energy
The aid stations were excellent - water (in cups), isotonic drink, energy gels, crackers and fruit were all easy to access and handed out by really friendly people.
It’s in French!
Of course everyone speaks some English but we LOVED the international feel to this event. There were people from a massive range of countries and we all had our national flag on the front of our race number which was great. You might need to be prepared to cheer your fellow runners on in their language but you’ll soon learn what to say just by listening.
A final word
This was a very emotional race for me as I ran it alongside Becky who had previously suffered from C.F.S. / M.E. for over 11 years. During that time she couldn’t even walk without becoming exhausted. Crossing the finishing line was such a great testimony to the progress she has made. If you would like to sponsor her to raise money for our local hospice (Kirkwood Hospice) we would really appreciate it. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Becky-Burdon?utm_id=13