Fit Five Friday – The Race that was my Gateway to the Marathon

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My Marathon Gateway Race

Maybe you remember a few weeks ago I posted what I loved about my first marathon? Well, funnily enough, the “gateway” race that led to the Paris Marathon was also in France.

Seven years ago, the hubs and I ran, what was for me, the first race that was more than a Half Marathon – La Course Eiffage du Viaduc de Millau en Aveyron – I realise that is a mouthful, as does pretty much everyone who runs this course, and we simply call it “Millau” (pronounced phonetically “me-YO”). Ron had run his first marathon just a month prior so that probably stoked the fire in me a bit as well. But I was having back issues and wasn’t even sure I would survive this race. Spoiler Alert: I did AND it seemed to have knocked my misalignment all back into place again!

Five Fun Facts about this race and the trip

Race Distance – While it wasn’t much more than a half marathon, it was still longer than any distance I had run up to that point. But not only is it 23.7KM it’s also a HUGE climb up to the Viaduc bridge and then a huge drop going back down to the finish. So we knew it was going to be a challenge, for both of us.

Excited and nervous for this bib pickup

The Incredible Bridge – The Viaduc du Millau is the tallest bridge in the world. I’m not just saying that; it’s true. And as someone who is fascinated by bridge engineering, this was an absolute dream to run across. Even when we first drove over it I got goosebumps! (I remember something similar the first time I ever crosse the Golden Gate Bridge).

Approaching the bridge for the first time

Running the bridge was, however only 5KM of the 23.7 total of the race. And I thought it would be a breeze going over, but no… first we had to climb 340 meters up there, then it was a constant uphill to the end of the bridge. Only at the turnaround did we finally start to go downhill.

Never mind the computer generated voice on the video, just look at this marvel!

Upon completion, I knew I was ready to move forward – Since I’d participated in 2 Marathon relays at that point, AND Ron had *just* completed Rotterdam, I finally had the (somewhat scary) feeling that I was ready to do something more. The atmosphere at Rotterdam the month before had been completely magical, but at that point I still kind of thought “never”. Well, friends, you do know we really should never say never, right?

Weirdest Race Swag Ever- We all have a race where we get something, well, odd in our race swag, right? Well, amongst a few “normal” things (race leaflets, blister bandaids, cooling gel single use packets), was a tin of lentils. That’s right, a tin of lentils! Of course these were lentils made with herbs from that particular area of the south of France, so I get it, but… not really what you are thinking about eating before or even after a race. Am I wrong?

Cheese! Yes, I said it. Cheese. The town of Roquefort was a mere half hour drive from Millau, so we couldn’t help but visit the cheese caves and take part in some sampling of the goods. Although, I am more of a fan of the stinky stuff and Ron not so much. But even he enjoyed some of the younger, not-so-stinky, varieties they had on offer.

Bonus Fun Fact: we bought about 2 kilos worth of cheese and drove home with it in the back of the car. Let’s just say it’s good we got home when we did otherwise it may have tried to escape the car on it’s own. Also, after about another 500g of the stuff, no one really wanted to eat any Roquefort cheese for a while. It happens I guess; you get cheesed out.

So tell me, did you have a “gateway” race to a longer distance? Have you run in a race across an impressive bridge? What is the weirdest thing you ever received in a race swag bag? And most importantly – stinky blue cheese, yes or no?

If you want to read back on my trip, you can find the post here. It’s not really a race recap, but I do talk about the race and the trip amongst other things.

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Here are the guidelines:

  • Your link should center around some kind of fitness (exercise, wellness, mental health, nutrition… the possibilities are endless!)
  • Please link back to your hosts! It’s the right thing to do! 
  • Share the link-up love by visiting and commenting on your hosts and at least two other Fit Five Friday bloggers!
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  1. Stinky blue cheese — NO!!!! Although cool to go to the source if you can.

    I was curious about going longer than a half, but not a full, so I ran an 18 mile race a few years ago. That seems so long ago and far away. Everyone thought I would run a marathon after that, of course, but it was a stressful time in my life (when isn’t, it seems) and I knew 18 to 26.2 is a big leap, actually.

    Bridges are hills. :) But that’s a cool bridge!

    1. pie says:

      yeah I don’t know a lot of people who like blue cheese haha!

      Still you did 18 miles – that’s still more than a lot of people do. We realise last week that no one in our notparkrun group has run a marathon. Ron and I are the only ones. And to be honest, once I can tick Chicago off, I’m done. On to shorter pastures :)

      Bridges are hills!! and it is an awesome bridge :)

  2. Darlene says:

    I’m hooked. I would love that race. In fact everything about it.

    The bridge in Sarasota Florida was awesome and in the race you ran over it twice.

    My gateway to my first half was a DNS to my first 10k.

    To my first and only marathon was my finish time at the Brooklyn half. I qualified for NYC and I figured I would never again. I think I was right. Lol.

    1. pie says:

      the race is held every two years! come on over and we can do it together!

      so you DNS’d your 10K and came back with a vengeance to do a Half? That sounds about right for you!

  3. Wow that bridge is magnificent! I do love running over iconic bridges as well. I would be all over that race as well. Lentils and cheese? Interesting!

    1. pie says:

      yes such a stunning bridge! and yes lentils and cheese haha!

  4. Oh that bridge! YOU totally had me at that!!! I ran across the Golden gate, a few years ago, and that was almost an out-of-body experience, so I can only imagine how breath-taking this bridge would be. And the medal! Wow…if only it was a little closer to Iowa LOL

    1. pie says:

      I get you on the Golden Gate out of body feeling. Even just driving it the first time was like that for me!

  5. I love that random distance! Instant PR! I’d love to take on that bridge. I’ve run the Golden Gate in the SF Marathon twice. And a can of lentils – that’s funny!

    1. pie says:

      yes another reason for the random distance ! it remains my PR ;) luckily we didn’t consume the lentils before the race… not really the best choice right? haha!

  6. jenny says:

    i lived in NYC in the 90s and ran the NYC marathon twice (it was easier to get into then.). Running across the bridges in that race was amazing.
    I’m starting to feel left out- everyone seems to have gotten interesting race swag but me. Potatoes? Cabbages? Lentils? I’m jealous.
    Sorry, no to stinky cheese. Bleh.

    1. pie says:

      The bridges are the one reason I’d like to run NYC. Oh and that it’s NYC :D. but I have to choose my last marathon and that’s going to be Chicago.

      you’re just not looking for the right races I guess! ha!

  7. Laurie says:

    Hmmm…lentils are a strange thing to have as a race giveaway. The race sounds amazing. I think I could do it now much better than I could have 5 or 10 years ago. I have lower expectations now and would not mind walking parts of the uphill sections of the course. What an amazing experience! I would love to do a race in France sometime. Maybe the Marathon du Medoc?

    1. pie says:

      Believe me, a LOT of people walk part of this race. I always imagined coming in last for this one, but there were absolute loads behind me. There were time checkpoints but they were pretty gracious. And I’ve always wanted to do Medoc! I think that one has a an 8 hour limit. I’d probably break my no more marathons after Chicago rule for it ;)

  8. Our stinky cheese is from Mexico. So good. :-) Can of lentils? That is an odd swag. The only bridge I’ve run is the one in Detroit leading to Canada. Interesting, fun, but difficult too.

    1. pie says:

      I think stinky cheese from Mexico was my gateway cheese haha! Oh was that the Detroit Free Press? I have heard cool things about it!

  9. That bridge is stunning! So much about this race to love – now if I could just get to France :)

    1. pie says:

      the race is every two years ;-). Just saying… ;-)

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