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Paris, they say, you never forget your first love...

Carol and Me the day before the race wandering about an empty Champs-Elysees

A blog, By: Steve Sorensen, Colorado Native, award-winning-professional photographer, rabid traveler and crazy marathon runner.

It was soon to be my sixtieth birthday and to celebrate that milestone, I established a goal to run a marathon. My wife and I are both runners; I’d run many half marathons, but never a full. My wife had run one marathon and decided she was happy to be done with that lunacy.  

I hit sixty in January of 2013 and resolved to run a race (marathon or half) every month for that year. My first marathon was the Disney World Marathon in Orlando. Not my favorite race, but alas, I survived. This gave me license to go crazy…with the next major event…the Paris Marathon, this event changed both our lives.

Here’s the backstory: I’m was standing on the Champs-Élysées, in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe (yes, my heart was pounding) I was chatting with another American waiting with me in the queue. He mentioned that he and a friend had just run the Antarctica Marathon, sadly, his friend broke his ankle and didn’t finish, however, he went on telling about running a marathon on every continent. (WHAT!!) The idea of running a marathon on every continent just about made my head explode.

As soon as I arrived home and gushed like a schoolboy who just received his first A+ in algebra, (which by the way, never happened for me) I flooded my wife with information and excitement about running a marathon on every continent. She was intrigued….and so it began, the bucket list of a lifetime, Running a Marathon on every Continent!

As a young man, Paris had been my first overseas adventure and we’ve had an ongoing love affair since. It seemed so fitting that at the age of sixty I’m running my first overseas marathon in Paris.

The Paris Marathon is in the Spring and it’s a fabulous time of year to be there.
The Paris Marathon is in the Spring and it’s a fabulous time of year to be there.

As mentioned, the Paris Marathon begins at the Arc de Triomphe, running down the entirety of the Champs-Élysées, past the Louvre, Norte Dame, the Bastille, into the Bois de Vincennes (the mega park on the east side of Paris) covering most of the Rive Droite (right bank).

Then back on the Rive Gauche, (left bank) passing Shakespeare and Co, (one of my favorite booksellers) Les Invalides and into the Bois de Boulogne (the mega park on the west side of Paris) finishing near the Arc de Triomphe. All the while running alongside the River Seine and consistently in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

It’s a tour like none other, and was such a great way to connect with the French and the Parisians on a completely different level. No longer a tourist, we were connected with their running community, all the while seeing sites we would never see as tourist. I enjoyed this run so much that we ran it again in 2019, enticing my wife to run it with me.

We just missed the fire of Notre Dame. There’s a creperie I’ve enjoyed for years on the lle Saint-Louis (this is the island just behind the Norte Dame), during one of our crepe runs, we watched workers crane the various statues from the rooftop of Norte Dame. I told my wife we were watching history being made. These statues had not been off the roof for centuries. The next day Norte Dame’s ceiling was ablaze. Fortunately, these statues would have been lost forever but were spared.

The Eiffel Tower our consistent companion during the run.
The Eiffel Tower our consistent companion during the run.

Paris is like walking through a history book, an architectural wonderland filled with culture, great food and, after all the trips still leaves me with a sense of awe. On the surface Paris feels large and challenging, but once you get below the surface you find it’s a large city comprised of small villages. It’s a city worth getting to know and it will always be my first love.

We left Paris for London via the Chunnel, and we were off scheduled to run the London Marathon in two weeks.

The adventure continues…

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