I was reasonably optimistic as the plane made its descent into Montpellier Airport. This was fuelled by knowing I had some decent recovery since the Cyprus Marathon. I was looking forward to running the event which I had last ran in 2019. After clearing security and customers I left the airport and caught the bus to Montpellier. It didn’t take long to arrive at Montpellier and as I was early I headed directly to the race village to collect my race pack. I collected my number, spoke to the Intersport people at the ASICS tent and went into the city to explore a little. I went to Monoprix to pick up some vegan friendly food and headed to the hotel to check in, watch French TV and chill for the evening.
When I left my hotel shortly after 8am it was cold and raining lightly. I was tempted to go back to get the foil cover that I had packed and put my video camera in the room as rain drops on the lens ruins footage. I decided not to go back and walked to the race village in the Antigone. Shortly after passing through security I found some cover from the rain and proceeded to get all my tech ready. I sheltered as long as I could then waled hurriedly to join my wave and eased up near to the start on Place du Millénaire. The countdown began and then halted and this happened a couple of times probably due to technical difficulties.
Finally the countdown happened and we were off heading through Place de Théssalie running around a magnificent fountain. We crossed over Place de l’Europe, through the Esplande de l’Europe Lez and crossed over The River Lez and continued our ascent north towards Castelnau-le-Lez. At 6 km we headed South towards Sea passing through the beautiful Domaine de Verchant and the Parc de Grammont. Shortly after 10 km the ascent began which was somewhat a relief as my pace so far was quite racy pacey. Shortly after 11 km we passed Ikea and the Odysseum, continued and turned left at Pablo Picasso, headed south on Avenue Georges Fréche through Lattes passing the Parc Expo on the left.
At 19 km we arrived at Pérols, then we turned right on Rue de la Guette heading to Boulodrome Jean Ramel. We turned right and headed south on Rue Bonadona until we began running alongside Étang de Thau. The sun was high in the sky the air was fresh and I was still feeling strong. I soaked up the scenery and continued heading south to Carnon. We ran through the dock, along Avenue Samuel Bassage and then headed north to join the D62E2. This by far was my favourite section of the course as it weas straight and scenic with water on both sides. Both the Étang de Thau on my right and Étang de Grec on my left seemed to shimmer in the sunlight.
There was so much wildlife and I even saw flamingos. It really felt like a sin to be running at pace rather than strolling and soaking up the natural beauty. Shortly after 29 km we reached Palavas-les Flots and headed north with The Lez on the my left and the Étang de Thau on my right until just before 32 km. We continued heading north alongside the Lez and I was feeling good as they had benefitted from running at sea level since 25 km. As we approached lattes the incline began and my legs started to feel it. First the calves and then the hamstrings. I adjusted my strike in an attempt to offset the discomfort and succeeded somewhat.
As we continued along the river the incline continued, I looked at my watch and realised that if I maintained my pace I would arrive earlier than my best time. Although I set off with only the objective to enjoy I used the possibility of a personal best to be the fuel for my focus to push on and persevere. Shortly after 36 km we crossed a bridge which taxed my legs. I maintained my pace as best as I could counting off 37, 38 and finally 39 km which all felt like double the distance. Shortly before 40 km a decline on Allée de la Méditerranée. At this point my legs felt no benefit and my heart was somewhat grateful. We then turned right towards Bassin Jacques Cœur, turned left passing it on our right and then left on Rue de Galata. At the end we joined Allée de la Méditerranée and turned right heading north to Montpellier. From here the incline resumed and was steeper than before.
The inclines continued with underpasses which I laughed out loud and in my head accusing the course designer of possibly being sadistic. It was a great course, however I was becoming impatient as the course was becoming familiar and I wanted to finish. We continued on the Allée du Capitaine Dreyfus, turned left crossing The Lez via Place des Barons de Caravettes. We immediately turned right heading north on Avenue du Pirée and then another right to joining Rue du Rhodes climbing once more. At this point the spectators made the greatest difference as their cheers seemed to lift me up and power my strides.
I saw the sign saying 300 m left and I looked at my watch and dug in once more as I joined Esplande de l’Europe. The finish line was strides away and as I crossed Rue Poséidon I could see Place de Théssalie and that marvellous fountain. I picked up the pace passing the fountain on my right. There it was, the finish line, I smiled raised my arms and crossed the line smiling feeling relief and a sense of accomplishment. I limped from the finish line up to collect my medal and grab an apple and then headed to the hotel. As I walked through the race village I passed the massage tent which helped me recover after a previous year. Time didn’t allow for me to queue so I left the village and went to the hotel to start my marathon recovery process.
In terms of stats the 12th edition of the marathon had 1,500 runners, went through 6 municipalities and had 8 refreshment stations. There were also half marathon and marathon relay runners on the course. The course is muti terrain but not anything that cannot be tackled with road racing trainers. The event is well organised, the course is varied enough to keep it interesting and very scenic. Honestly there didn’t feel like there were any junk miles to make up the distance. The temperature is generally around 17 degrees and the airport is close to Montpellier. I definitely recommend this and can see myself running it again. I am so glad that I chose to run this again. A la prochaine Montpellier, merci beaucoup!
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