Le Marathon des deux rives – Done!

Le Marathon des deux rives – Done!

Article by Isabelle Green
Photos courtesy of  Valérie Mignault

Last Sunday, August 26th was the 15th edition of the Quebec City Marathon (Le Marathon des deux rives).   

Ranked as one of the top 10 marathons in the world this event is not to be missed either as a runner or a spectator.  As a third-time participant in the 21,1K race, I would like to tell you about my experience at the event. 

It was going to be a hot sunny day, reaching a high of 32 degrees Celsius with low winds and high humidity. Running in these conditions would be strenuous but I was up for the challenge.  

Once I got shuttled to the starting line of the 21,1K, I noticed all the people with nervous energy to burn off running up and down the streets and already looking exhausted.  Why you would want to expend your energy before the race is beyond me. 

I only had time to do a few stretches when the shot was fired.  The race was on!  There were so many people that it took a few minutes until we could start moving.  They say the most common mistake a runner makes is to go too fast at first and then you run out of gas by the end.  So I kept a slow pace for the first couple kilometres.  We ran through a neighbourhood where people were cheering us on and some were sitting on lawn chairs by the street in their pajamas, sipping coffee. 

Around 5 K, the warm-up was finished and I picked up my pace.  The great thing about racing with lots of people is that you always have targets in front of you.  Just pick a person ahead and make a goal of passing him or her.  Once you’ve done that, you pick another person to challenge.  

Just as I began to feel dehydrated, the water stand appeared just in time. I took some on the run along with a banana and headed towards the bridge.

Running across the bridge (Pont de Québec) is one of the highlights of this race.  The view is extraordinary and the cool breeze comes as a relief.   The beautiful scenery also helps keep the mind off any aches and pains. 

Once off the bridge, we were welcomed to the north shore by an instrumental band.  The music was a nice distraction.  The next kilometre was downhill, so I let gravity do most of the work.

There were about 15 kilometres left.  At around this time, my body starts to wonder what the heck I am doing to it and tells me to stop.  That’s when I turn up the music and look around for distractions.  There were many distractions to keep you entertained.  These included numerous people cheering you on, people playing musical instruments, people singing and even people spraying you with their garden hose.  If that wasn’t enough, then you could observe the runners themselves.  There were those who dressed up in costumes or pace bunnies with cute tails, those who ran barefoot and those who ran while dribbling a basketball.   There were also the sounds of people breathing heavily, grunting and talking to themselves that kept the race interesting. 

After 10K, my body was starting to feel the toll.  I told myself that I had made it half way and that my family was waiting for me at the end.  I kept trudging along.  After a shot of some kind of high-fructose syrup that tasted like cough medicine, I waited for a rush of energy but only felt sick to my stomach.    

At 12K, I finally felt a boost of energy and picked up my pace again.  I felt good again and even managed to smile and wave at people in the crowd.   The adrenaline rush was short lived and by 14K, my body was telling me to stop.  I slowed down to a walking pace for the first time but quickly came back to a slow jog.  The last 6 kilometers were hazy.  The heat was merciless and my feet were numb.  I was so hot yet I had goose bumps all over my body.

Just when you think it’s never going to end and you are sure your legs are about to fall off, there are always people at the end of the race that let you know you’re almost there.   These people are a godsend.   “Only 4 kilometers left, you’re almost there!”  “Less than 2 kilometers left!  Come on, you made it this far, don’t give up!”  In the very final stretch, your body knows that you are almost at the end and the anticipation makes every step unbearable.   You don’t even notice the huge crowd of people on either side of you cheering you on for the last 500 meters because you are so focused on reaching that line.  When I finally did cross the finish line the only thing going through my mind was… OH MY GOD I CAN STOP RUNNING NOW.  I did it.  I just completed a half-marathon.  The feeling was great and seeing my family at the finish line was definitely the climactic moment of the whole race. 

So to get an idea of how long a marathon really is, next time you get in your car, reset your trip odometer to zero.  Then notice how long it takes to reach 42.2K in a car.  

Then afterwards, imagine yourself running this distance and you’ll probably feel tired just thinking about it.

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