The Santa Corrida de Noël 10K Race Report (2013)

VIRB Picture

I eagerly signed up to once again race the Corrida de Noel 10K, just like we did the last year. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we knocked out packet pickup the night before – one of the last to pickup their packets.  And, as a consequence of our late night arrival, we both got rather large t-shirts.  Don’t worry though, I’m sure I can put it to good use in the event I ever gain 50 pounds.  Thus ensuring I have running attire no matter my potential weight.

The next morning, we got up at a non-early time of 8:45AM.  I should point out that perhaps the greatest facet of running races in France is that the French have no desire to run early in the morning (or do anything else early in the morning on a weekend).  I don’t believe I’ve run a single race here in France that’s started prior to 10AM.  We Americans have much to learn in this department. We jumped on the subway and wandered along for about 20 minutes until we got off at the stop just about 200 meters away from the start line.  Of course, the train was full of people in Santa costumes:


I thought it was interesting that as we walked past the finisher chutes, there were the famous red trucks that you see at the Tour de France that pack up the start/finish area each day.  I suspect there’s probably a gazillion of these trucks and it just happens to be a brand.  But, I only associate it with Le Tour.


We headed over to the gym where there was a bag dropoff area and a place to prepare for the race.


After we were done in there we headed out to get a bit of a warm-up in.  I probably ended up doing a mile in total, starting off nice and easy and just building into a pretty pushed pace.  The Girl joined me for much of it before we split up for the last minute or two. As I wrapped things up, I noticed Santa preparing his sleigh and reindeer:


At this point it was time to go get in the starting corrals. Normally, based on my experience over the last 18 months with races in France, this point of the day is a complete cluster.  Except, this time, it worked out incredibly well.  There was a wide-open area to the side of the race route, allowing folks to easily join in to the starting corrals.  Brilliance!  No messy fences or anything.  Just simplicity.


Only the last 100m or so had some fences, which was fine, otherwise you’d have complete chaos.  So it was here that I jumped on it.

VIRB Picture

Meanwhile, there were a few other Santa’s behind me:

VIRB Picture

Just in case you were curious about the costumes, you could pay 10€ to get one, which included the top/bottom/beard/hat/bag/belt.  My understanding is a portion of that went to charity.  We still had ours from last year though, and honestly, we only need so many Santa suits around the house.


The countdown clock ticked down rather silently, and with no fanfare (as usual), the first wave went off.  Like other French races, they do a great job at separating out the waves using volunteers, giving folks a bit of breathing room at the starting line.


About two minutes later, it was our time to head out.


With that, off I went!  You can check out the video of the start below a bit. It didn’t take very long to be out front, since my wave was probably a bit slower.  I ended up pacing roughly alongside what looked like a college-aged runner.


The only challenge though is plainly visible above: The back of the previous wave. It took only 2-3 minutes to catch them.  So at this point I pretty much just played dodge and weave and ran along the edge as much as possible.


About a mile later I had mostly cleared through the slower ranks and was at the point where the speed differential wasn’t too horrible, and the crowds had broken up a bit:



Just in time for the first hill:


There’s only one hill on the course…but you do it twice….and it sucks a lot.  here’s the elevation profile:


The steep portion of the hill took about 90 seconds to climb (though there was a slow build prior to the steep portion), and then it was screaming back down again:


From there, you wrapped up the first loop of the 2-loop course (5K per loop).  As I noted yesterday, TomTom was a major sponsor, and here was one of their banners:


Then it was back into the main starting area where many people were cheering (most from other races).  In fact, there was 6 different races starting earlier that morning until noon.  Some short kids races (1-3K), a 5K, the Santa 10K, and then a much more competitive 10K.  Note however that people still threw down in the Santa 10K.



Shortly after the starting area there was an aide station, as usual for here, on the 5K marker.  I didn’t bother to get anything though.


By this point, I had passed through most of the wave that started ahead of me, so it was pretty quiet for a while:


I did though stumble into one sleigh:



Pacing wise I had heart rate zones to hit, though, I was actually above them for most of the race.  I wasn’t feeling very good at all in the morning, so I just sorta figured that’d elevate things a bit and went with it.  Seemed to work.  The only thing I hosed up on a bit was that I had two screens on my watch – a lap-oriented screen (Lap Pace/Lap Distance/Lap Time/Current HR), and then an overall screen (Avg Pace/Total Distance/Total Time/Current HR).  Somehow along the way I didn’t realize I was on the total screen.  So thus I was looking at some of the slower miles and thinking I was running them faster (auto-lap set for every mile).  When in reality, I was seeing Total Pace Average as opposed to just that lap.  A silly me mistake more than anything, but I thought I was basically running faster than I was – which likely cost me some time. Back up the hill I went, which was this time capped by South Park characters:


As I screamed back down the hill, I saw trouble ahead: The back of the pack first-lappers.  Pace-wise I’d be moving along at ~6:00/mile, while most of these folks would be double that slower.  Dodge and weave was back in full effect:



So I lost a little bit of time here, but not too bad.  Plus, it kept things interesting.


Thankfully, the course actually had a slight variation in it for the last 1K or so.  At this point you separate out and run a different course for the ending.  You can see the turn sign, and then see my making the turn left, whereas most other runners are heading right.



As you can see – things got quiet again:


Soon though, I was in the home stretch, cruising towards the finish line:



At this point things were pretty empty, and given how fast I was running, for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t look back.  In fact, it never even crossed my mind to look back.  Which, is odd, because, you know, it always crosses everyone’s mind.  Go figure. Damn you Santa #10010!

image (Funny, his number was transposed just one digit from mine: 10100)

It’s alright, I’ll forgive him.  By ‘forgive’ him, I mean I’ll stalk him in every race he does for the rest of his career, ensuring I always beat him.  Completely normal.

My finishing time was: 39:23
Place overall: 23 / ​​3627
Pace:  6:21/mile (3:46/KM)

Not too shabby.  Here’s the full race file. Except, guess what I found?  Mr. Santa #10010, I beat you!


Turns out he had started nearly 90 seconds prior to me in that first wave, and thus, my chip-time was faster.  So bam! Overall, while definitely not a PR for me, I’m reasonably happy for keeping things sub-40 despite wearing a Santa costume and with the dueling hill and the crowds.


I waited just a couple of minutes for The Girl to come through.

She did quite well also.  She finished up in 44:07, or a 7:07/mile pace (4:25/KM) – coming in 9th out of 2,318 ‘senior woman’ (the classification she was in).


In fact, you can even see her in the very early portion of the video, just after the starting line (seen above as a still shot).  And, to the left you’ve got blog reader Roman as well.  I didn’t realize they were there actually, as we had separated when we first went to the starting corrals.

With the race complete, I checked out the food table, but ended up skipping it:


Instead, I went with picking up my medal first:


And then my coupon for a free bottle of wine:


Unlike last year though where they gave the bottles away at the finish, this time you had to walk to a nearby market.  But more on that in a second.  First, we went back to the gym to pickup our bags and change.  Love having it all indoors.  So much more civilized.


Then, it was off to the market to redeem our wine bottles.


As we exited, The Girl went to stand to take a picture with the bear that was out front:


And then, the bear turned his head and asked for the bottle of wine:


Pure awesome. Here’s a short little video recap of some snippets of the race.  Nothing fancy:

Thanks for reading all!  Hope everyone has a great remainder of the week ahead


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  1. Merrill

    Were you the one in the santa suit?

  2. Ben Lawson

    I’ll see you and raise you the Toronto Santa Speedo Run! 🙂

  3. Dennis

    What did you use to show the metrics? (GPS track, bpm, speed etc).

    Nice dodge & weave around streetsigns at the start btw:)

  4. Andre

    Are you holding the Virb cam in your hand? or do you have a mount for it ?

    • Handheld. I’ve tried the chest/shoulder harness and for running it kinda sucks (far too much bounce). Depending on how much I pay attention while recording, you see more or less bounce. For example, in most of the videos I countered my bounce a bit and so the video is smoother. But in the very last clip towards the finish line you see I neglected doing that and thus it’s more bouncy.

    • Jonas Van der Biest

      I’ve also had some experience with mounts for my hero 3 cam. If you want minimal bouncing while running it’s best to mount it to a stick and keep that in your hand. Of course with such a crowd running next to you I guess you could drop it more easily when mounted on a stick.

  5. Actually… you did start one race before 10am… Paris Marathon 🙂 It starts usually at 8:45 am!

    (but i agree that americans tend to start early… my Chicago marathon start was at 7:30 am!)

  6. Alessandro

    The red trucks are from NORBERT DENTRESSANGLE a logistics company which is working all over Europe.
    I think you can easily say there is a gazillion of the red trucks at least all over EU!

  7. Mike

    Ray, did you use every second or ‘smart’ data recording? Your GPS track and speed graph are much cleaner than I am used to getting.

  8. Dick Morris

    As I have discovered with my VIRB watching the resultant video can make you seasick with all the bouncing around from the bike. Even helmet mounted is similar.
    I notice that many of your still photographs are also marked with the VIRB numbering system.
    Did you, or have you, tried setting the VIRB to take still pictures every 30 seconds.? Perhaps a slide show is better than bouncy and jerky video.?

    • I haven’t had any issues outside running (with seasickness). I’ve got my review coming up tomorrow with tons of sample footage.

      I’ve tried the interval option in the past with a GoPro while running and found the resultant was pretty much just as sucky.

  9. Fiona

    Oops I missed out on the free wine, didn’t see the voucher. I did however sample the mulled wine and got the second last croissant!

  10. CaptainChris

    Is this accurate?

    Avg HR: 97 % of Max


    • Hmm, it would probably depend a bit on what I’d consider my current HR Max. I’d say I hit it in that race towards the end. Typically I wouldn’t run a race that high (I was about 2-3bpm over race plan), but I suspect being a bit sick had something to do with it (not feeling so awesome today again).

  11. I didn’t know you could have a bottle of wine!!!!

  12. hollyoak

    Nice report! I didn’t run on Sunday but was around for race 6, the “flat 6km” to support some friends. It was interesting to be around a race without the “tension” and I also got to see the guys running in sub-30, wow that’s something…

    In case someone here was in race 6 here are my videos of the day : link to

    Maybe I’ll try running with my tiny “key holder” camera the next time just to remember the race a bit better, it’s all a bit “hazy” afterwards when you’re running a 10k at the max!

  13. Drew

    lol – “damn you santa” followed by “I beat you santa” – love it!

  14. Duncan Lally

    Great time Ray – thanks again for the write-up. Don’t know how you find the time. Can’t wait to meet you at some point. Ever planning to run Geneva? Or Lausanne?

  15. Tom

    Tell the Girl Happy B-day, nice race report. That’s pretty funny with the Bear, reminds me of when a Mime dressed as Freddy Kugger scared my daughter and her friends on the strip. Fastest she has ever run.

  16. champ

    Hi Rey,

    Sub 40 miunites for a 10Km is not too bad. You could get a 36 if you wasn’t too busy taking too many photos.
    Your video, that is the Garmin Vibe again? Where was it mounted on you?


  17. Long Run Nick

    Thanks Ray. Background music suggestion: “Here Comes Santa Claus”(:

  18. Arnd

    The second bear picture is the funniest picture i have seen this week.

  19. SO awesome! Wish we had something like this? Do you recall anything like this around the DC area Ray?

    • No, none that I was aware of. There was of course many turkey trots, but the closest would be the Jingle Bell 10K, where lots of folks dressed up (but not ‘sanctioned dress up’), like this. 🙁

  20. Max

    Look like a funny race! Good job and you too Fabien Galvaire (aka Santa #10010)
    By the way not sure your pace match with your finishing time in your post
    3:46min/KM != 39:23 10k (would be 37:40)
    I do this time with a slower pace 🙂

  21. john

    pretty sure the /km pace is 3:56. Assuming the /mile pace and the overall time are correct. Canadian Metric police to the rescue!