#85 Nice-Cannes Marathon: Turning the Beast of “Normality” at Events

#85 Nice-Cannes Marathon: Turning the Beast of “Normality” at Events

After 3 days of rallying the participants about cupless water stations and getting the volunteers excited about runners putting their litter in the bin… what actually happened?

Runners pledging to put their litter in the bin & Bring Their Own Cup

2nd Nov.: I had a headache and could neither eat much or sleep. The night seemed hot and restless as several peels of thunder sounded and lightning cackled across the sky. At 3am a waterfall was pouring from the heavens. I lay in bed awake trying to calm the head down by drinking more water and forcing myself to eat some bread which unfortunately didn’t stay down! I prayed to God that the head would give me a break. This is the 3rd migraine I’ve had within a month for a person that does not suffer from migraines. Am guessing dehydration might be a cause + stress of so many things. Anyhow Farnham Pilgrams proved as long as had eaten enough during the week a light meal the night before wasn’t going to make much difference. My pre-event meal for that marathon was two bags of crisps and a hot water.

3 Nov. 5am: The alarm went off and a mild headache was still hanging around. Would have to make do with having rested rather than slept. A run will clear it, I told myself. So went out for breakfast at the hotel to make some cheese sandwiches to take out onto the course + croissants. I forced a banana down me for good measure, which stayed down.

6am met the organisers and the marine authorities. Their faces were ominous. The authorities said I could not start due to flooding at Antibes and road closures. It was too dangerous. Lightning pealed across the sky and Neptune seemed angry as waves hurled themselves at the shoreline.

The authorities were suggesting to cancel the event. I suggested a delayed start which was given an uncertain look. The organisers were doubtful but said “Come back in an hour, it will be up to the authorities”. Went to look for a friend who said she’d come and wave me off. Again we missed each other (sorry Ashley). She had apparently been there at 5:45am, but I had gone up the concourse at about 6:15am after waiting for the officials to tell me to come back later.

Lightning continued to frazzle the sky and it was starting to drizzle. The wind tossed the rain drops around. I decided to return to the hotel to wait it out for awhile.

7:15am the authorities still had the red light on the event. The organisation told me that my race was now canceled. Banners were being taken down along the concourse, as it looked like the authorities would force the organisation to cancel the event…..Later as I showed a lady where the baggage van was, someone said that the event would have a delayed start at 10am, no official announcement had been made, just hearsay. Some people went away thinking it would start at 10am. I stuck around as many others did, until we had heard an official announcement.

As we closed in on 8am, the rain eased up and the emcees finally made the announcement that the event would be delayed to 8:30am to a sigh of relief from athletes who had been training for this day. Thank goodness I had stuck with gut instinct. As I would not complete within the time limit, the organisers said that my event was cancelled. I looked at them…. having spoken to thousands at the expo, I needed to observe how the cupless stations were being operated and besides there were 23 thousand waiting to see a lady with a tyre running in the event to shout a valyrian cry “Jetez votre dechets dans le pourbelle”. I suggested I would go with the pack and if I was too slow then to take me off as they would a normal participant.

8:00am the rain had eased off and the organisers began to pump up the music to get the participants excited. Perhaps Zeus went on a small tea break.

8:30am as the event started Zeus hurled a lightning rod that cracked open the sky to release a down pour. I started in the middle with the 3:45 pacers.

For awhile I ran with everyone and it should have been an easier pull with the water on the ground. But with the torrential rain that fell, it felt like I was pulling the tyre through a river. As the main crowd quickly pulled away went into Arnie Schwarzenegger mode and pulled hard. The clock was on to make the cut off times

5km – The first hydration water point was as expected littered on the floor, however the majority appeared on either side of the road and for another 400m after.

7.5km – The first cupless hydration water point was litter free. However some runners had taken the large bottles and placed them about 100m away to the side of the road.

10km – The third hydration point was similar to the first. The volunteers were mainly focused on provisioning for the runners. I clocked 1:25 at this point…. just before the cut off time.

A speed through of what I saw of a couple of the stations. Pause or slow down the video if you want to read stuff

12.5km – The volunteeers at this cupless hydration point were enthusiastic and poured water quickly into my bottle. They were too fast for me to take a picture. Did not see any other bottles further down stream.

15km – the litter was getting worst and appeared across the road. Disappointingly participants who had passed me continued to throw their litter on the floor. At this point my head was feeling very tired from the lack of sleep. My eyes watched people drinking their morning coffees in the cafes and wondered what would happen if I simply asked to have their coffee.

17km -21km the rest of the cupless water stations were very pleasant to pass. The cupped water stations were a disaster zone. Time check was 3:09 but no one had stopped me. At 23km was happy to finally down a couple of cups of coke to wake me up.

Above is after the hydration station at 20km: Some volunteers were on the beach picking up the cups and gel packets that had been tossed onto the sand. Sooo although not a total disaster, can still be loads better.

At about 30km, some of the volunteers were disgusted with the mess the participants had made and wish I had taken a video of how distressed the volunteers were and the complete mess the runners had made of the entire area and beyond. I had switched my focus to completing the event.

Just after 30km, the technical director (TD) said I would not make it if I continued dragging the tyre and to run free of it. He also offered the bus to me. Hope was with me and as had passed the half way mark, I requested to complete the event on the pavement and for them to pack up as was already outside of the cut off time. I agreed that my health and safety was my responsibility and now I would run for myself and to shout “Zero Dechet” to anyone wanting to know what I was doing!

Thank you to who ever took this photo which landed anonymously to me

TD seemed to accept my proposition and stayed with me for the next 8km, along with the first aid van. The end of event truck overtook me at 40km and took down the signs. My brain pushed me on. At 42.1 km the organisers had waited for me. I nearly cried with mixed emotions as hadn’t believed the event organisers would keep the finish line open for me and had actually worked hard to complete this marathon in a personal best time of 6:32. Admittedly, I take more time talking to people, and being a panda (taking photos with people). Today I had put my head in bringing the time down.

Thank you Pascal, Fabien, and everyone who was there at the finish line. Sorry Berit (from TAF) that I missed you.

Overall – I still enjoyed this event despite the weather. The participants are soooo positive and supportive. I really do look forward to see both Geneva and Nice-Cannes marathons go cupless next year….. though think we need some tweaks.

With Pascal and my new fancy bag – Espoir

Thank you everyone who gave such positive feedback about using your own cups and what could be done next year.

Zero Wasting Bananas

Finally was great to see the organisation use fair trade organic bananas at the end. A bunch was given to me, which unfortunately got smashed around in my bag whilst carrying it to the train along with my tyre and harness. However was able to make banana cake with the smashed up parts + banana skin bacon + banana skin curry. Only had the stalk and the end parts to compost. Banana skins are supposed to be the best part of the fruit:


For both of the latter dishes, I scraped out the white bit in the banana skin with a spoon and then used the white bit in my curry.

Banana skin bacon: soaked in a marinade of soya sauce, syrup, salt, pepper and a wee bit of chili for a couple of hours and then fried. Taste like plantain chips

Banana skin curry: marinade in tumeric, cinnamon, curry powder, salt, pepper, chili (yeah I like chili). Then fry with garlic and ginger and other stuff 🙂

Final marathon for the year to green up: Singapore Marathon

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