French Bloke Runs

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Category: The world of running (page 1 of 2)

Sonic the freak

It’s been a long time since my last rant but I know you love’em, so here’s a freebie that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. How effing freakish is Sonic the Hedgehog? When I was younger, I owned (and I still own) a Sega Mega Drive II (Genesis II for the odd Yank reading this) with all the Sonic games, including Sonic & Knuckles on which you could stack other cartridges to unlock new games. At the time, the blue mascot was seen as a serious competitor to Super Mario – in hindsight it is laughable – and I have to admit that I was a real fan. Now I can see how it was all a scam.

First of all, hedgehogs are not blue and they certainly don’t wear shoes. I’ll put that on the account of artistic licence, but it’s unrealistic. At least, he wears red shoes and that’s what counts (remember?) although I’ve never seen running shoes with buckles rather than laces (that too is ridiculously unrealistic).

Secondly, in real life hedgehogs are ludicrously shy. I recently had to feed my neighbour’s pet hedgehog for 2 weeks so I have prime experience with that. As soon as I approached it, it shivered like crazy! Now you’re telling me this little guy can run through the world and kill robots without being terrified? I don’t buy it for a second.

Then there’s the question of the running specialty. Sonic can sprint for pretty much the whole game without a drop of sweat. Seriously? Either you’re a sprinter or you’re a long distance runner, well you could also be a mid-distance runner, but you certainly cannot sprint for several hours straight! I know that elite marathoners run 42.195 km at a faster pace than I sprint on 100m. But neither Usain Bolt nor Dennis Kimetto could run this distance at 1:40 minutes per km!

You’ll argue that Sonic has super powers and that he cheats with springs and other ingenious pieces of apparatus, but I find this dubious at best. No ones actually goes faster with Kangoo Jumps than with real shoes, they are just another risible fad of the 90s. And I don’t believe anyone can claim that spring-loaded shoes like the Enko or the Adidas Springblade can double your speed, that would be preposterous.

Nonetheless, despite all the bad-mouthing I just gave him, Sonic will always remain the best in my heart. How could it be any other way when you listen to the awesome music composed by Masato Nakamura?

Inspiring runners: Marie-José Pérec

After Emil Zàtopek, Marie-José Pérec is probably the second great runner who contributed to making running an inspiring sport in my eyes. Like most French people, I still remember Marie-Jo (that how all French people know her) draping herself in the French flag after winning the gold medal for the 400m at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. After 20 years, her time of of 48.25 seconds still makes her the third fastest woman of all times!

Marie-Jo Perec - Atlanta 1996

Marie-Jo Perec – Atlanta 1996 Photo by sd_ukrm

I know, she was a sprinter and I’m more into long distance running, but I still find her inspiring, and her career impressive! The funny thing is that she wasn’t really into running when she was young, but she was really digging basketball. She only discovered her talent in her late teens. At 20, after just one year of training, she became the French champion on 400m! Three years later, in 1991, she became the world champion on the distance in Tokyo. The following year, she won the gold at the Barcelona Olympics and 4 years later, our standard-bearer wons 2 gold medals in Atlanta (400m and 200m). If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

I know the end of her career was a bit disappointing and a lot of people remember the bad rap she had at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but I prefer to remember her as a legend of French athletics and of sprint in general.

Treacherous treadmills

Treadmills are dangerous and it’s funny!

Young runners

Last time I ran on tracks (it was also the first) there was a group of children training with their instructor. Some of them were very young and the others were even younger, which questioned me because some of them were already almost as fast as me. It also reminded me a couple of stories I’d read about young runners.

Running Child photo by Peter Mooney

Running Child photo by Peter Mooney

The first one is the story of Budhia Singh, a running child from India. One day, when he was just 2 or 3 years old, he was punished and was made to run around tracks. The adult in charge of him forgot about him and when the dude came back 5 hours later, little Budhia was still running! That’s an incredible story and it doesn’t stop here: by the age of 4, he had ran and completed 48 marathons, that’s kind of depressing because I’m 3 decades older and I still haven’t ran one. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end well (read the Wikipedia article to learn more about it), he has been forbidden to run until the age of 11 and at now 14 he isn’t an exceptional runner anymore.

The other story is a happier one. It’s the story of a courageous 12 year-old girl from New York who ran a half-marathon by mistake. She was supposed to run a 5K but took the wrong start. Halfway through the race, she realised that something was amiss, she’d already ran for too long. That’s where I admire the little hero: when she saw her mistake, she just though “Screw it, I’ll finish it anyway”. That takes courage and tenacity! After 2 hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds, her dead-worried mother found her with a medal. Then again, I only ran my first half-marathon this year. I’m not sure what to make of that…

The Oatmeal is a runner

If you don’t know Matthew Inman, let me introduce him. He’s the author of the world famous comic blog The Oatmeal. I love the guy, he’s like an American version of me: he’s a fan of Tesla (both the scientist and the car brand) and all thing eco-friendly, he loves science and astronomy, he’s an atheist,  he loves beer, he loves cats, he has the sense of humour of a 6 years old (and yes, I find it funny), but most of all, he runs!

The comparison doesn’t stop here, we both started to run for very similar reasons: I explained my reasons in a silly post, he explains his very well in his comic “The Blerch“.

A photo posted by theoatmeal (@theoatmeal) on

I give advice for running long distance, so does he in a hilarious comic:

A photo posted by theoatmeal (@theoatmeal) on

I tried to give you motivation and inspiration, so does he:

A photo posted by theoatmeal (@theoatmeal) on

I tend to see running as a form of meditation, so does he.

Really, the only real difference between us is that my blog is way more famous than his – or maybe it’s the other way around since he now organises his own races: “Beat the Blerch” and he’s sponsored by big ass brands like Saucony.

Drinking & Running Races

I’ve already spoken of the intimate relationship between running and drinking, but sometimes this relationship is just too strong. Indeed, some crazy runners (or geniuses?) organise races involving running and drinking at the same time! I put together a list of such glorious races:


You already know that there are non alcoholic beers specifically brewed for runners, but there are also races for beer lovers:

  • Beer Mile: it is the most famous race that includes drinking in its rules: 4 laps, 4 beers. Each beer must be consumed before the lap begins. There’s even a Beer Mile World Classic (🇬🇧) in London next month, of course I’ll be part of that! And if you miss it, there’s the Flotrack Beer Mile (🇺🇸) in Texas next December as well as the Beerfit Running Series (🇺🇸) all across the USA.
  • Kastenlauf: this is the historical parent of the Beer Mile. This tradition dates back to 1982 in Munich and has many variants, the main one involves teams of 2 runners carrying a crate of beer between them and having to drink all of it before the finish line. Races include the Zurich Bierathlon (🇨🇭), the Welde Bierathlon (🇩🇪), the Schöndelter Bierathlon (🇩🇪), the Büdesheimer Biermarathon (🇩🇪) and probably many more.
  • Beer Lovers Marathon (🇧🇪): it obviously takes place in Belgium, in Liège to be precise. It is a standard 42.195 km marathon but you can find local beers at the rest stops along the course. Fancy dressing is mandatory and it looks like great fun with proper Belgian beer.
  • Great Breweries Marathon (🇧🇪): once again, the Belgian having the best beers in the world, only them could organise such an event: racing through several iconic breweries including the ones that brew Duvel and Karmeliet (yummy)! You can drink during the race, and you come back with a gift basket (full of beer, of course).
  • Shamrock 5K Beer Run (🇺🇸): unlike the name suggests, this one doesn’t take place in Ireland but in Indianapolis and Chicago in the glorious US of A. There is beer served at each stop and a pint at the end. It might be worth a detour, especially since the sponsors are not those brewers producing some infamous American light beer (which in my book equals to donkey piss) but a selection of some of these wonderful American craft brewers that gave rise to the revival of proper craft beer in the past decade.
  • Beer Belly Running (🇬🇧): not really a race, it is more an organiser of various running and beer drinking events in good old London, UK. I particularly like the Beat the Barrel race, which is a real team effort. But this year it has been replaced by the Great British Beerathon, which also involves eating on top of the drinking. What a shame I can’t make it on that day…
  • There are plenty of other running events involving beer, like the Brewery Running Series (🇺🇸) and the Alamo Beer Challenge (🇺🇸), but not during the race, as far as I could gather.


If beer is very much a thing in Germany, Belgium, the UK and the USA, a lot of wine runs will be found in France (of course) but not exclusively:

  • Marathon du Médoc (🇫🇷): as it claims on its homepage, it’s the longest marathon in the world. For those who don’t know, the Médoc is the superior kind of Bordeaux wine. So the day after the run, you’ll have a posh hungover and posh sore legs. It was created in 1984, so now it is quite an institution!
  • Marathon du Beaujolais (🇫🇷): the wines of the Beaujolais region don’t have quite the same reputation as the wines from Bordeaux, but it is my native region so I have a particular affection for this one, even though it doesn’t run through my village. I know people who ran it and it is epic.
  • Marathon du Vignoble d’Alsace (🇫🇷): if red wine isn’t your thing but you’d sell your mother for a glass of white, this is the race for you! Alsace is renowned for its luscious Gewurtztraminer, Sylvaner and Pinot Gris. And after the race, you can fill up your belly with the best sauerkraut and sausages.
  • Wineathlon (🇬🇧): this is actually a series of 10K races where wine will be served at rest stops. Even though these races are close to me now, I wouldn’t dare going there, knowing the quality of the wine that’s usually served in the UK.
  • Half Corked Marathon (🇨🇦): well Canada, that’s unexpected of you!
  • Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon (🇺🇸): yeah, there had to be a race in California in this list. Nope, not even moaning about it.
  • Wicked Wine Run (🇺🇸), The Ultimate Wine Run (🇺🇸): Run and drink bad wine all across the USA, yay!
  • I could find some other wine related races, such as the Maratona delle città del vino (🇮🇹), the Media maratón por los caminos del vino (🇦🇷), the Idaho Wine Run (🇺🇸), the Texas Wine Series (🇺🇸), Fuelled by Wine (🇺🇸), the St Clair Vinyard Half Marathon (🇳🇿) and the Winery Run (🇦🇺) but it seems you can only drink after the race. What a shame.
Marathon du Médoc

Marathon du Médoc Photo by Kinolamp


You’d imagine that there would be a whisky race in Scotland or a whiskey race in Ireland but I couldn’t find any although it seems prizes in these lands are more often in the golden liquid form than in real golden monies. No tequila run in Mexico or rum marathon in the Caribbean either. Anyway, there are still some race based on spirits:

  • Vodka Trot (🇺🇸): I thought the Russians or the Poles would come up with such an insane race concept, but it had to be the Yanks…
  • Although I couldn’t find many races where you could drink spirits during the race, there are some races where you can enjoy a good spirit after the race such as the Semi-Marathon de l’Armagnac (🇫🇷) and the Marathon du Cognac (🇫🇷), and there’ll be good food too.

I’m sure I missed plenty of running events involving drinking and if you know of any, please add it it the comments!


Running in Pop Culture: Forrest Gump

You may not have noticed because it doesn’t really show, but I’m obsessed with running. Yes I am! I think about it even when I’m watching a film or a good show, so when said film or TV show mentions running, I obviously notice it and I make a big deal of it! So I figured I’d start a series of articles about things to watch that mention running although they’re not specifically about running.

Forrest Gump Point in Monument Valley

Forrest Gump Point in Monument Valley photo by Chao Yen

Forrest Gump

The most famous reference to running in cinema is probably Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring a very young Tom Hanks in 1994. It is a must-see classic. The story of Forrest Gump is intertwined with the contemporary history of America: he meets Elvis Presley and several Presidents, he goes to Vietnam to fight under the start spangled banner, plays ping pong against the Chinese and is at the origin of several big US companies, including Apple in the fiction, and he also inspired the creation of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in real life!

Everyone still remembers the famous quote “Run Forrest, Run” from the legendary scene where from cripple he becomes a runner, then a college football star and finally meets the President of the US of A. Not only this scene is very emotional but it is also hilarious, which pretty well sums up the film:

And the end of the scene:

Later on, he goes on running across America for three years. A feat that was probably inspired by the Trans-American footrace created in the 1920s. But since 1994, it is Forrest Gump himself who has inspired a whole truckload of runners to do the same. Although I bet none of them were as influential on American Culture as he was: during this run, he is (fictionally) credited for the invention of the smiley face and for the expression “shit happens”. Not to bad huh?

If you haven’t seen the film yet (shame on you), run to the nearest VHS rental (or simply watch it on Amazon). And just for the pleasure, here’s the scene where he runs across America:


Of motivation

I realise I must seem crazy when I say that I run 5 times a week or that I get up at 6am just to run, but I don’t think I am. You can do it too, you just need to find the motivation. Here’s a bunch of tips to get and stay motivated. They worked for me ; we’re all different so they might not work for you but they’re worth a try!

  • Loving to run is the first and obvious source of motivation! The “Pull” motivation (being drawn to a goal) is much more powerful than the “Push” motivation (pushing yourself to a goal). It doesn’t necessarily come naturally for running and I hated it at first, but by pushing myself for long enough, I ended up loving it, and now I’m genuinely looking forward to my runs (especially the long runs). Don’t get me wrong, there are still some days I don’t really feel up for it, but I’ve never regretted a run!
I really regret that run. Said no one. Ever.

I really regret that run. Said no one. Ever.

  • Losing weight was my initial motivation for running. It’s a very good motivation to get started, and I now believe that there’s no such thing as the right shape to run, although the stereotypical runner is skinny, you can be fat and fit at the same time! However, it has been proven that losing or maintaining weight is a very bad motivation on the long term, as you’ll always slacken at some point and go back to your old habits. Running must be an end, not a mean.
  • Having a role model, someone to look up to! For me it’s Lanky Pole, the fact that I sometimes have the privilege to run with him also pulls me in his direction. For him, I believe it’s Kenenisa Bekele, for Emil Zátopek it was Paavo Nurmi, etc… It goes on and on: having a role model is a must.
  • Having a sparring partner, someone to measure yourself to. For me, it’s the Quiet Roman, and I’m lucky to have another three: Music DaddyJack of all trades and the Mad Cook. It can be competitive or friendly, but having someone at your level helps you going further.
  • Having numbered objectives and metrics also works really well for me. That’s the reason I bought my Garmin watch. An app like Strava is also really good if numbers motivate you: trying and beat yourself week-on-week on the same route or other people on specific segments pushes me further.
  • Races are great: the atmosphere always pumps me up and the emulation it generates makes me want to go to another one. Trying to beat my PB is also a great challenge, being competitive with other can be a good motivator, but trying to beat myself and be better each time is an even stronger incentive.
  • Having a training plan is a fantastic motivator. Research shows that having objectives set by others is a strong way of pushing yourself to do things because it has less consequences to break a promise you made to yourself than to a third party.
  • Not snoozing the alarm: just getting up when it rings. I know it’s easier said than done, but once you’re used to it, it’s very efficient and you won’t need hours to be awake.
  • Reading about running is also a great way to get and stay motivated. I found reading Born to run really inspiring (and it still inspires me a year after reading it), but also, read about other runners. They can be inspiring runners or normal people writing blogs like this one. In short, continue reading me twice a week :-p

Report: London Marathon 2016 (part 2)

More fun photos of the London marathon 2016! If you missed the first part, go check it, there are some fun pics as well! Before I show you more pics, here are more results from the London Marathon 2016 with some celebrities:

  • Major Tim Peake: 3 hours 35 minutes and 21 seconds. The British astronaut currently in a mission on board the International Space Station ran the London marathon on his space treadmill while following the event on the telly, read his blog post on this topic.
  • Natalie Dormer: 3 hours 51 minutes and 23 seconds. Yes, Margaery Tyrell (I know you know Game of Thrones) is a runner, and quite a decent one with that.

To continue with my series of photos, here are some lovely couples:

London Marathon 2016 - Couples

London Marathon 2016 – Couples
Adam & Eve – Thomas the train
The hare and the tortoise – A camel

There were lots of animals too:

London Marathon 2016- Animals

London Marathon 2016 – Animals
A dinosaur – A hedgehog – A rhinoceros
Another dinosaur – Tony the tiger – A rabbit
A donkey? – A monkey – A leopard

There was also a strong contingent of super heroes:

London Marathon 2016 - Superheroes

London Marathon 2016 – Superheroes
Ironman – The Green Giant – Batgirl
Venom – A Ghostbuster – Spiderman
Batman and Robin – The Flash – Just a superhero

Tim Peake wasn’t the only space man too:

London Marathon 2016 - Spacemen

London Marathon 2016 – Spacemen
A brawny tatooed princess Leia – An astronaut – Chewbacca

And some people didn’t follow a theme:

London Marathon 2016 - Various costumes

London Marathon 2016 – Various costumes
A Smurf – A shoe – A tap
Gandalf and Frodo – A good beer – Big Ben
Spongebob Squarepants – A Roman – Woody

Some other didn’t follow a theme or even an idea and were just completely WTF:

London Marathon 2016 - WTF runners

London Marathon 2016 – WTF runners

And my 2 favourites, a dude in a sharp suit with a nice hat, and Karaoke Man who ran the 42.195 km while singing!

London Marathon 2016 - My Favourite runners

London Marathon 2016 – My Favourite runners
A sharp suit – Karaoke man

Hopefully I’ll be one of these guys next year (maybe not in a fancy costume).


Report: London Marathon 2016 (part 1)

No, I didn’t run the London Marathon last Sunday. Maybe next year, we’ll see. But considering I live so close to the route, I had to go and have a look, and what a sight! I didn’t regret standing in the cold for that couple of hours: the atmosphere was really warm and fun. The public (me included) was cheering for every runner, some in a very funny way, the runners were still enjoying their run (I was just before the 6th mile) and were really fun to watch, especially the ones in fancy costumes.

The race started with the disabled, we first saw the wheelchairs whizzing past us, shortly followed by the blinds and their guides. You have to admire the courage of the runner and the selflessness of the guide.

London Marathon 2016 Blinds & Wheelchairs

London Marathon 2016
A blind marathon runner and his guide
2 wheelchair marathon runners

A while after, we saw the Elite runners. The ladies came first and they were so fast that I didn’t have the time to have my camera ready when the pack passed. I wasn’t at the finish line, but Kenyan runner Jemima Sumgong arrived first in only 2 hours 22 minutes and 58 seconds despite a bad fall, that’s seven minutes slower than Paula‘s record on the same race but it’s still massively impressive (especially when you see her running for real). I managed to be ready for the men and I saw a glimpse of Dennis Kimetto, the current world-record holder. Unfortunately he didn’t win and finished 9th, more than seven minutes after Eliud Kipchoge who finished first in 2 hours 3 minutes and 5 seconds and won this marathon for the second consecutive year.

London Marathon 2016 - Elite runners

London Marathon 2016 – Elite runners
Kasia Kowalska [POL] and a pacer
Dennis Kimetto [KEN], Stanley Biwott [KEN], Ghirmay Ghebreslassie [ERI], Eliud Kipchoge [KEN], Wilson Kipsang [KEN] and few pacers

 After that, it was all fun! But very quickly I could see recurring themes. For example, there were a lot of running flowers (and I couldn’t take them all):

London Marathon 2016 - Flowers

London Marathon 2016 – Flowers

There were also a lot of soldiers, boy scouts, pilots, and other military related costumes:

London Marathon 2016 - Soldiers

London Marathon 2016 – Soldiers

An easy and obvious one was the wig, coming in all colours, shapes and forms:

London Marathon 2016 - Wigs

London Marathon 2016 – Wigs

But the most popular was undoubtedly the tutu:

London Marathon 2016 - Tutus

London Marathon 2016 – Tutus

It was also quite often mixed with some of the above. I love the soldier wearing a pink tutu:

London Marathon 2016 - More tutus A dude overdoing it - A soldier with a tutu - Wig and tutu combo

London Marathon 2016 – More tutus
A dude overdoing it – A soldier with a tutu – Wig and tutu combo

Stay tuned for more costumes during this 2016 edition of the London Marathon!

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