Provence & Côte d’Azur: Winner finishes marathon in under an hour
New record set at Nice half marathon
As I joined thousands of pumped up runners at the start line my heart was pounding. This was possibly my biggest challenge yet – a grueling 21-kilometre race across the city of Nice to raise money for charity. Yes, the pressure was on, but despite a rather wet start to the day, the rain did little to dampen my spirits (apart from breaking my ipod) as I made my way to the finish line on the historic Promenade des Anglais. It was also a monumentous day for Bernard Koech who stormed his way to the line to complete the race in a record 59.97 minutes.
Despite a heavy downpour as we set off towards Gare Thiers in the north of the city, the sun came out as the start of the pack headed into the idyllic bay for the final stretch of the course. It was a battle to the line, but after a trying race Kenyan athlete Bernard Koech stole first place on the podium with a record time of 59.57 minutes - beating the previous record of one hour by just three seconds.
For me, it wasn’t so much about smashing a marathon record but actually finishing the race. I decided on a whim to take part in the Nice half marathon as a way of raising money and creating awareness for leukaemia after a close friend of mine sadly died in January. As an asthma sufferer and short distance runner, this was a huge challenge so unlike the professionals, I took a slower approach and paced myself throughout the course. Nevertheless, once the adrenaline kicked in and I heard encouraging cheers from the crowd my competitive side took over and surprisingly I found myself enjoying the race. And, a broken ipod, sore ankles and a grueling 21 kilometres later I successfully made it to the finish line.
A number of African bands dotted across the city helped to keep spirits high. The atmosphere was ecletic as both professional and amateur runners helped one another to the finish line in true sportsman style. The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, took part in the race alongside more than 8,000 brave competitors.
An incredible and inspirational day for all
A friend of mine said that watching everyone cross the line and seeing them complete their personal challenges was a "true inspiration" and yes I agree, it really was.
The annual event ended on a high and, like me, many worn-out runners headed to the beach to dip their tired feet into the fresh Mediterranean water.
Despite aches and pains today, taking part in the semi-marathon was definitely one of the best things I have ever done and I may even set my sights on doing the London Marathon next year.