4 Dec

A Grande Day Out

Paris-Versailles Grande Classique

Despite regularly attracting thousands of entrants from around the globe with its landmark-laden course, the Paris-Versailles Grande Classique is something of an unknown quantity to most Brits. So why isn't the 16k race more popular with runners from the UK?

A major reason is that the late September date usually clashes with another big international race - Berlin marathon. But one man who joined the 25,000 competitors in Paris this year was Graeme Yeoman from Milngavie in Scotland. He told northernrunningguide.com about his experience.

Graeme said: "There were runners from all over the world. I met people from Costa Rica, Australia, California and loads of Brazilians. I didn't meet a single other Brit, though, which is maybe surprising."

Graeme Yeoman

For anyone who enjoys taking in historical landmarks during a race, La Grande Classique is ideal: "The route went from the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine and up the Cote des Gardes, which is a long, fairly steep hill about 6km from the start. The rest of the route was through a forest and then into Versailles in sight of the palace!"

As well as the scenic route, the race is also famed for its supporters and their sardonic wit: "The roadside was packed with people shouting "On n'est pas fatigué!" - "You're surely not tired!" - which, of course, I was! The worst bit for me was the final kilometre. I could see the finishing line in the distance, but my legs were going like jelly. Then I saw the TV cameras and thought of the ignominy of being filmed walking the last bit and somehow found the necessary strength to run to the line."

When asked if he'd be going back for second helpings next year, Graeme commented: "When the full results were issued I noticed that two ladies in their seventies beat me, so if I do it next year my goal will be to make sure that doesn't happen again!"

For more information on La Grande Classique, visit the event website.