Europe has a well-developed marathon scene. Košice Peace Marathon in Slovakia holds the record as the oldest marathon in Europe since 1924 and every major European city boasts of a spectacular marathon or two every year. It is rare to find a brand new race nowadays so I jumped at the chance to take part in the premiere edition of the Marathon International du Golfe de Saint-Tropez at a favorite vacation spot of the rich and famous.
We took the 9:40 AM EasyJet flight to Nice out of Brussels International Airport on Saturday, March 24, 2018. We landed at 11:30 AM on Terminal 2 and proceeded to pick up our rental car at the Sixt counter. Richard drove while I helped navigate the hour long trip to Saint-Maxime. There were two tolls along the way, one for 5€ and another for 3€.
We found parking at one of the side streets and hotfooted it to the Saint Maxime Tourism Office on 1 Promenade Simon Loriere to pick up my bib and the goody bag. Registration for the race was 60€ with an additional 9€ for those taking the bus to the start line or from the finish line. Saw my name on the photo wall!
Hotel Les Santolines was our accommodation for the weekend. The three-star hotel had breathtaking views of the Croisette beach and the azure waters. Good thing they had free private parking because everything in Saint Maxime, just like with all the cities on the Gulf, was expensive! We had a huge room with a separate sitting area and a balcony overlooking the pool and the sea.
Loved the goody bag! It included the race shirt, a welcome box containing crackers and candies, and rosé wine especially bottled for the race participants.
We had lunch at a cafe near the race expo.
We leisurely walked back to the hotel, pausing to take some souvenir photos.
We got into the car and drove to Saint-Tropez to check out the area.
We toed the starting line at the Pont le Préconil (Preconil Bridge) with the race kicking off at 8:00 AM on Sunday, March 25, 2018.
The first few kilometers were along the beautiful seafront before we headed inland. The weather was nippy at around 7 degrees Celsius. We were at Saint-Tropez at the halfway point and then we started the uphill part of the race from 22K to 33K. The aid stations had water and wine! They also had some wonderful solid food: raisins, oranges, and other fruits.
The race had everything: road, trails, forest, sand, uphill and downhill. Good thing the race had a six-hour time limit!
Timing starts when the starting gun goes off, not when you cross the timing mat. I started two minutes after the gun start; I barely squeaked in under the limit, finishing in 5:56:44 at Maison de la Mer in Cavaliere. I walked 400 meters more to catch the bus back to Saint Maxime. I waited 30 minutes more for the bus to get full before we started the trip back.
Richard walked around in Saint-Maxime and took some photos while waiting for me.
He was patiently waiting for me at the bus stop. We were already checked out so I had no chance to take a shower. I changed in the car before we headed back to the airport. We returned the car at Terminal 2 and took the airport shuttle to Terminal 1 for our flight. We were able to relax, get something to eat and drink at the Priority Pass lounge. I washed up in the bathroom so I can be a little more decent. Our Brussels Airlines flight was scheduled to leave at 21:50 but the flight was delayed for more than an hour. We were home at 2:00 AM to catch some zzs before going to work the next day.