This year was a special year to participate in the marathon since it was Quebec's 400th anniversary. It is the one of the oldest cities in North America, and is as close to a European city you can get without crossing the pond. Although Canada is bilingual, Quebec city is largely French, with over 98% of the population being Frachophone. I really had to put my grade school French to work. (Sad that I took French from the time I was 6 to 18 years old yet I had to relearn how to ask for coffee with milk). There are very few Franchophones in Ontario, especially where I live. I guess if you don't use it, you lose it. It was amazing how quickly some of it came back though. By the time we left I was able to somewhat hold very simple conversations.
Moe and I were fortunate enough to be shown around the Quebec by our good friend Frank, who grew up in Quebec and is Franchophone and also speaks English. We stayed at his parents house across the river from Quebec in a city known as Levis. Fortunately, this was also where the marathon started, so we were able to sleep in and enjoy the late 8:30 am start while those staying in Quebec had to get up early to take a ferry and then a shuttle bus to the start line.
Quebec is a beautiful city. On Friday when we arrived we met up with some of Franks friends and went to watch the Celine Dion concert on big projector screens in Levis. Over 250000 people watched her concert in the area, taking place downtown Quebec. She was under pressure to perform as a few months earlier, Paul McCartney had performed to kick off the 400 year celebration. There was a little competitive buzz about who was the greater act. Although McCartney obviously is a huge name, Celine is French Canadian, so she has a huge local following.
To contrast McCartney, Celine performed her concert entirely in French. I am not a huge Celine fan, but it was great to see so many people out enjoying themselves on a warm summer night, and you could tell they loved the concert. The community feeling of Levis is wonderful, we were given very warm welcomes by so many people, and they were very patient as Hubs and I stuttered to converse en francais.
The next day we woke up and toured the marathon course by car. I was still unsure what I was going to do since my left side was acting up, and I knew it was going to be a very warm day (I usually tank in the heat), but after seeing the beautiful scenery, I knew I had to run it, it was so beautiful and historic. The course runs along the St. Lawrence river from Levis across the St. Lawrence River over the Pont de Québec bridge and finishes in the Quebec city in an area rich in 16th century architechture and outdoor cafes.
Course Map and Elevation Chart (note scale in meters not feet 3ft is approximately 1 meter)
Click to enlarge
After driving the course we went to pick up our race kits. Race kit pick up was fast and well-organized, so we had plenty of time to do some light sight seeing. Mostly by car. Here are some pictures of Saturday sight seeing. We had to be careful how much we did since Quebec is very hilly.
Chateau Frontenac (The most photographed hotel in the world)
Quebec City (On the Ferry headed to Levis)
Race day we drove to the start line in Levis. Frank and his Dad came to see us off, and it was great to have their support. They organizers actually fired a canon at the start line, which was cool but frightening at the same time. One nice touch is that the course started at 42.2 km and counted down from there. I found this very motivating.
Start line pictures:
Heading to the bag drop
Canons (why mess around with a dinky start gun)
On your marks. (Notice the guy plugging his ears!)
Off we go!
Well my race started out OK. I took it easy and found that at first I actually felt good. I was a little stiff in the left side, but managed to move O.K. The truly limiting factor was the heat. It was hot!! Even at the start it was 24 C(78F), and it started at 8:30 am to boot, so I knew it was just going to get worse.
The course itself was challenging, but not overly difficult. It was extremely well-organized and many locals were lining the streets to cheer on the runners. It was so nice to hear Bravo and Très Bien, and other words of encouragement in French. Many people put out their sprinkers. I ran through every sprinkler I saw, even if I had to run across the road to run through it. It felt wonderful and helped alot. The volunteers were awesome and the course had great support: three sponge stations, two gel stations, and they even gave out bananas and oranges. They could'nt have done a better job taking care of us runners on such a hot day.
I came in my first half at 2:07, and it felt reasonable, but the heat just kept getting worse and my glute really started acting up. To add insult to injury the temperature was well over 30C(90F). Anyway I ended up walking alot of the last 10K, and finished in 4:43. It was not a PR, not even close, but I have to say I really enjoyed the run, and I think in the end, that is what counts. Here are some more pictures:
Dying at the end! I felt as bad as I look, FYI
Hubs being a HAM
Happy to be done!
Again, happy to be done!
The next day we walked another whole marathon, touring the streets of Quebec. Here are some pictures we took.
The irony was that it was actually cool weather the next day. Apprarently the previous three days were the only summer like weather they had experienced that summer.
Overall rating for Marathon Deux Rives:
City and attractions: 10/10 (The pictures speak for themselves)
Expo: 8/10 (small but well organized)
Course entertainment: 6/10
Medal: 10/10 (It has a three flashing lights, really cool)
Race T-shirt: 7/10
Course support: 10/10
Post race support: 10/10 (Best post race food to date)
Difficulty: 7/10 (10 being most difficult)
I hope to return next year!!
Thanks for reading!