After missing the Paris semi-marathon I decided to enroll in the 80km Eco-trail run 2 weeks later. I absolutely love trail running and since I had never run more than 57km in a single race before, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get started with a really challenging distance as the elevation gain is minimal compared to most ultra-trail runs you can do in France.
Like most people, I have always associated trail running with amazing landscapes in untouched mountainous areas, and I must say that the idea of experiencing a trail run around Paris seemed odd and totally unrealistic, so curiosity was also a contributing factor in my motivation to try it out!
1734 people signed up for this event that took place on Saturday 21st of March. The start was in « Saint Quentin en Yvelines » and scheduled at noon. Very easy to get there by train, and just the fact that you don’t have to wake up at 5am to get ready and be on time for the start was a big plus for me!
Paris is not known for its beautiful weather and that day was no exception: cloudy and pretty cold, but at least no rain. The general atmosphere at the starting line was good, just like you can expect from an event with so many participants.
And off we go for 78km! Yes, if the idea of running for 80km scares you then don’t worry cause the real distance is in fact only 78km and a few painful stairs to climb to get to the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower!
I won’t go into the specifics of each section of that run since it could be subject to modifications by next year anyway, but I’ll just say that the organizers did a very good job at making you forget that you’re running around Paris. We do run across a few small towns at times, and cross roads where traffic reminds you where you are, but only for a few hundred meters and then back in the woods!
In my opinion and for obvious reasons, the Eco-trail de Paris can’t be compared to these more authentic trail runs you can do in wilder mountainous areas like the alps. However, I do feel that the organizers made it as good of a run as it can be given the area where this event takes place.
I really think this is a very good venue for anyone willing to give trail running a try, whether you go for ultra or shorter distance. Even though the event takes place around and even inside Paris, 90% of the course is on trails. Therefore, despite my initial skepticism this definitely qualifies as a real « trail run » in my book, and you will clearly see the difference with road running if that’s what you’re used to.
Besides, the relatively low elevation gain makes the course faster and more achievable than most trail runs you’ll find anywhere else, so it’s a great place to start and test yourself on these types of runs before you move on to more hilly areas!