an atypical journey between Paris and Versailles inspired by the Women’s March of 1789

“The marathon is a symbolic event of the Games and we wanted to map out a route that made sense. » The Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Paris 2024 (Cojop) presented, this Wednesday, October 5, the route of the marathon, which will take place on August 10, 2024 for men and the following day for women. “We were inspired by the Women’s March of October 5 and 6, 1789, explains Aurélie Merle, director of sports competitions within Paris 2024. This popular, revolutionary and feminine foundation event is a link to the values ​​of Paris 2024, where we put women in particular in the spotlight. »

At that time, the capital was affected by a shortage of bread. Thousands of women, starting from the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, marched together to Versailles to express their anguish to Louis XVI and demand reforms. This will lead to the ratification of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the return of the King to Paris.

“A great challenge for athletes”

The marathon runners will thus start from the Hôtel de Ville, reach the Palace of Versailles, before returning to Paris and crossing the finish line at Les Invalides. “It is atypical because normally the routes are urban, we stay in the center of the city and make several loops, which also allows us to identify strategic points”, reacts Yohan Durand, French marathon runner. Throughout the 42,195 km of the event, the athletes will pass through iconic places in the capital such as Place Vendôme, rue de Rivoli, the Louvre and the Trocadéro.

The course includes, according to Aurélie Merle, “two great difficulties” : the Fausses-Reposes forest, where the Pershing-Lafayette memorial is located – the highest point of the route at an altitude of 183 m – and the famous Côte des Gardes, with a gradient of up to 13.5%, by the passing runners will pass on their way back to Paris. “This descent, long and with high percentages, is going to be very difficult, warns Yohan Durand, who hopes to qualify for the Olympics. Above all, it comes after 30 km of running: your legs will hurt, you will have to anticipate muscle pain to endure until the end. I drove there and found it even more impressive than I had imagined.”

Atypical, the route is also atypical due to its unevenness: 438 m of positive unevenness and 436 m of negative unevenness”, never seen “according to him. For comparison, the Paris marathon has a vertical drop of less than 200 meters and the Berlin marathon only… 20 meters.” You will have to adapt your preparation and not only train on the flat, explains Jean-François Pontier, specialist marathon trainer. Anyway, at the Olympics, we’re not aiming for performance but for place. »

For Alain Blondel, former decathlete today sports director of Paris 2024, this demanding course “bring suspense because it will be a great challenge for the athletes who will find themselves in patterns that they do not know.” Especially since it will not be tested. “We want it to remain unique, no race will be organized before the start of the marathon. »

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For the occasion, the organizers of the Olympic Games also presented their course to the stars of the discipline, who, unsurprisingly, appreciate it. “With its unprecedented profile, the 2024 Paris Marathon represents a great sporting challenge for the athletes, in a sumptuous setting. This race, more uncertain than ever, promises to be legendary! », explains the British Paula Radcliffe, holder, between 2003 and 2019, of the women’s world record. The Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, two-time Olympic marathon champion and world record holder for the distance (2 hours 1 minute and 9 seconds) believes that the test “inevitably it will have a particular flavor”. “I couldn’t have hoped for a better race for the Games,” he said.

40,048 race numbers for the general public

If the path is now known, the security device to be implemented will, “to decide on the fly” with the competent authorities. “ We work with the corresponding prefectures, which will give us the minimum limitations to respect, assures Alain Blondel. The truth is that we will have a fairly important barrier throughout the course. »

For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the marathon race will not only welcome the 80 marathon runners and 80 Olympians, but also twice as many as 20,024 people from the general public, also on the weekend of 10 to August 11, 2024. , on a date yet to be determined. “In addition to the ‘marathon for everyone’, which will be 99% identical to the Olympic marathon, there will be a 10-kilometre race, which will pass through certain points along the route and will also end at Les Invalides, for the least trained”announces the Cojop.

The most common way to get a bib for one of these two races is to participate in the 2024 Paris Club challenges. To date, 3,000 bibs have already been assigned. “We are proud to offer a course that works for both the general public and Olympic marathoners. We are really in the DNA of Paris 2024, with Games open to everyone, to share. »

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