Earlier this year Nice-Cannes marathon, now in its 9th year, was cancelled. On July 14th France was celebrating Bastille day. In Nice thousands of family and friends had congregated on the main promenade to watch a spectacular fireworks display marking the occasion. A lone terrorist drove a 19 tonne truck at 56 miles per hour through the crowds. 434 people were injured and 86 people lost their life. So shortly after the Paris Attacks, France mourned. The organisers of the race cancelled the event as a mark of respect. Weeks later, in a show of support and defiance for Nice, the race was back on. Security was tightened. The route changed. It would have started along the exact route the truck drove down. As a mark of respect it was moved to start at the nearby Allianz Riviera stadium. After it was announced the race was back on the organisers saw a huge swell of entries. The date of the race was a year to the day of the Paris Attacks. People wanted to run. To enjoy themselves. To show they will not be made afraid. I joined 13,000 other runners at the start line. Runners wore an arm band of solidarity out of respect to those that lost their lives.
At the start line the atmosphere was jubilant and proud. After a minute's silence the National Anthem La Marseillaise rang out and huge cheers went up. We were ready to run. I was right at the very front, just behind the small cluster of elites, so had to step to the side to avoid getting trampled by the sub 3 hour runners! One week after New York, my plan was to enjoy this one. The French Riviera is beautiful; I adore running by the sea and this race is the perfect size for me. Big enough to feel like a event, but not so big it's stressful. The route heads down towards the sea front then weaves it's way along the coast through historic little towns, up and down some hills towards the glamorous destination of Cannes. The sun shone on us as we all headed west. Cheering pockets of people, postcard perfect sea views and boats twinkling on the Mediterranean greeted runners at every turn. It was largely flat but there were a few climbs with one being a special 'segment' for anyone hardy enough to power up the climb. There was a relay and half marathon option for those who preferred to go shorter or faster. I had thought about the half marathon, but as I ran on past 13 miles, although my legs felt tired, they did not get any worse. The atmosphere was relaxed and happy and the views so very wonderful; it was a joy to run.
On the descent into Cannes the crowds got thicker. Glancing at my watch I realised I was on for my fastest marathon time all year. A real surprise but testimony to how a great route and relaxed run can make a difference. It's not often I can say I enjoy every mile of a road marathon but on this day it happened. A huge blue carpet (not red!) welcomed runners over the finish line where we were presented with a cracking medal and plentiful goody bag. We were right on the beach front and the good vibes continued as people relaxed in the sand and paddled their marathon legs in the water or took advantage of a free massage. Nice-Cannes marathon is a special race on any year. The route, organisation and quality of the race is without fault in its excellence. If you are trying to decide on a foreign marathon this is a great destination. A fantastic, beautiful and highly recommend event. This year was extra special. There was a huge sense of purpose about it. Of celebration, and for those who took part, a strong sense of unity. For all the runners, regardless of their finish time, it was a win, an accomplishment, a respectful triumph in the face of adversity. Nice Cannes Marathon, I'll be back for more. Allez!