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

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

At that time, the capital was suffering from a shortage of bread. Thousands of women, departing from the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, then marched together to Versailles to express their anguish to Louis XVI and ask for reforms. This will lead to the ratification of the Declaration of Human and Citizen Rights and the return of the king to Paris.

“A great challenge for athletes”

The marathon runners will start from the Hôtel de Ville, will go as far as the Palace of Versailles, before returning to Paris and crossing the finish line at the Invalides. “It is atypical because usually the routes are urban, we stay in the city center and make several loops, which also allows us to identify strategic points”replies Yohan Durand, a French marathoner. During the 42.195 km of the event, the athletes will pass through iconic places of the capital such as Place Vendôme, rue de Rivoli, the Louvre and the Trocadéro.

According to Aurélie Merle, the course includes “Two big difficulties” : the Fausses-Reposes forest, where the Pershing-Lafayette memorial is located – the highest point of the route at 183 m altitude -, and the famous Côte des Gardes, with a gradient of up to 13.5%, through the which the runners will pass on the way back to Paris. “This long and high percentage descent will be very difficult, warns Yohan Durand, who hopes to qualify for the Olympics. Above all it comes after 30 km of running: it will hurt your legs, you will have to anticipate muscle pain to resist until the finish line. I drove there and it looked even more impressive than I imagined ”.

Atypical, the route is also atypical for its difference in height: 438 m of positive altitude and 436 m of negative altitude, ” never seen “, according to him. For comparison, the Paris marathon has a vertical drop of less than 200 meters and the Berlin one only… 20 meters.” You will have to adapt your preparation and not just train on the flat, explains Jean-François Pontier, a coach specializing in the marathon. However, at the Olympics we are not aiming for performance but for place.

For Alain Blondel, former decathlete of today sports manager of Paris 2024, this challenging course will do “to bring suspense because it will be a great challenge for athletes who will find themselves in patterns they do not know”. Especially since it won’t be tested. “We want it to remain unique, there will be no organized races on it before the marathon starts. “

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For the occasion, even the organizers of the Olympic Games have entrusted their course to the stars of the discipline, who – not surprisingly – appreciate it. “With its unprecedented profile, the Paris 2024 marathon represents a great sporting challenge for athletes, in a sumptuous context. This race, more uncertain than ever, promises to be legendary! “, explains the British Paula Radcliffe, holder, from 2003 to 2019, of the female world record. Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, double Olympic marathon champion and world distance record holder (2 hours 1 minute and 9 seconds) believes that the event “It will inevitably have a particular flavor”. “I couldn’t have hoped for a better match for the Games”, He said.

40,048 bibs for the general public

If the path is now known, the safety device that will be deployed, “To decide how to go” with the competent authorities. “ We collaborate with the interested prefectures, who will give us the minimum constraints to be respected, assures Alain Blondel. What is certain is that we will have a fairly significant barrier throughout the course. “

For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the marathon course will welcome not only 80 marathon runners and 80 Olympians, but also twice 20,024 people from the general public, again on the weekend of 10-11 August 2024., On a date Still to be defined. “In addition to the” marathon for everyone “, which will be 99% identical to the Olympic marathon, there will be a 10-kilometer run, which will cross some points of the route and will also end at the Invalides, for the less trained”announces the Cojop.

The most common method of obtaining a bib for one of these two races is to participate in the challenges of the Club Paris 2024. To date, 3,000 bibs have already been awarded. “We are proud to offer a course that works for both the general public and Olympic marathon runners. We are truly in the DNA of Paris 2024, with Games open to all, shared. “

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