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Why do I run : “You have the city to yourself”

Théo, a copywriter at Paris 2024, started running because of the Covid pandemic. He has just raced his first marathon, in Paris on 17 October last.

Why a marathon?

I got serious about running after catching Covid. I felt I was struggling to rebuild my physical strength. Then I decided I would start running to get back in shape for when the football season resumed. But then we had the second lockdown and the football didn’t resume. Then the lockdown was relaxed and I kept on going. In April, I saw that we could sign up for the Paris Marathon. I had started running in October but didn’t have a specific aim, and I decided my aim would be to complete a marathon in 3 hours, I thought that would be a nice long-term challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that, even though we had all that freedom again, I would be just as disciplined. Because it’s important to train regularly; otherwise you get hurt by training too hard too early.

Marathons are races in a class by themselves: what do they mean to you?

At first, they were out of my league. I couldn’t see how it was possible to run for 4 or 5 hours straight. But I did find it fascinating.

How do you prepare to run a marathon?

When you start taking an interest in running, it’s like stepping into a whole new world. You realise that, if your feet hurt it’s because your sports shoes are worn out. Same for your socks… Your kit is very important. The diet is also very important, much more than I thought, as well as staying hydrated. At first, you don’t know how to go about it, you overdo it and then you can’t run for days. I looked online and found out that you have to train in a variety of ways – interval training, long runs – I went on forums, on YouTube, joined Facebook groups. I found a community of people who are helping each other out all the time, it has been really useful. But I have always run alone.

What would prompt you to run another marathon?

The day of the marathon was unbelievable. You have the city to yourself. You run past the most stunning monuments in Paris, people are there clapping at you. It’s an amazing feeling. If I do it again, I might do it with friends or coworkers, or to lower my time. Or do it somewhere else to get to know a city abroad.

When you complete a marathon, you become part of the club or marathon runners.

There is a sense of fellowship with the other racers when you get to the finishing line, and even while running. During the race, we are all struggling together, for the last 500 metres you have all those people cheering you on, you feel like you’re on the finish line of the Tour de France, it’s so uplifting. And when you cross the line it’s a feeling of release.

Does racing the marathon during the Olympic Games in 2024, on the same route as the athletes, add a special flavour to the race?

Racing on the same route as the Olympic athletes, during an event that your country only hosts once every 100 years, is unbelievable. It will be amazing for everyone who enjoys running and for people who are used to the Paris Marathon, because the route will be different. It will be a dream come true for everyone who runs.

Find here our other three “Why do I run” portraits