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The Santa Corrida de Noël 10K Race Report (2016)

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It’s that time of year again!  Yup, time to run with a few thousand other Santa’s as part of the 10K race, Corrida de Noël d’Issy les Moulineaux!  We’ve been doing this race every year we’ve lived in Paris.  Albeit, last year the race was cancelled in the wake of the Paris attacks.  This year it’s back though – stronger than ever!

Pre-Race:

Like previous years, packet pickup happens at the race site on the Friday and Saturday before the race (which occurs Sunday morning).  The expo/pickup is held in the Issy sports center, as technically the race itself isn’t in Paris proper, but rather a town adjacent to it.  A mere few hundred meters closer and it’d be in Paris.  No worries, Issy isn’t bad at all – in fact, it’s home to the well known fitness company Withings.

In any event, I headed to the Palais des Sport on Saturday afternoon to pickup my packet.

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Like most events in the greater Paris region, you went through a brief security checkpoint before entering the building.  With nobody in line, it only took a second.  Inside there were tons of volunteers around, so things were pretty swift:

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I grabbed my packet, followed by my red t-shirt (the same t-shirt each year, as is often the case with French races), and then my gift bag.

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The gift bag was legit, and had all sorts of interesting things in there.  Like years past, it included shower gel/shampoo.  I sense a hidden message…

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In any case, they then routed you through the expo area, with numerous races giving out leaflets for upcoming events.

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There were also major brands there like TomTom and Brooks showing off their goods.  TomTom actually had some pretty solid discounts too on their products.

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And at one stand you could make your own smoothie on a bike:

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Finally, they had course maps up for all the races.  In fact, there were some six races the next day, albeit my race (#5 at 10:40AM) is largely considered the main event.  Still, races for kids, families, etc…  Cool stuff!

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I then wrapped things up and worked my way outside.  Though on the way out the door I noticed the loneliest workout room on earth.  Just a single treadmill sitting alone inside a trailer.  I suppose it wouldn’t be lonely if everyone was watching you through the glass like a fishbowl.  Just awkward instead.

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Either way – nobody was around, so I headed on home.

The Race:

The thing I appreciate about French running (and even triathlon) races is nobody wants to run early.  This race started at 10:40AM, and that’s kinda a normal starting time for events in the Paris region.  None of this crazy 6:45AM start time stuff you see in the US.  Or even the NYC Tri, with a 5:54AM starting wave.  Nope, that’s simply considered uncivilized here.  And rightly so.

So we rolled out of bed around 9AM and left the house around 9:45AM.  A quick jaunt across town and we were walking up to the race site around 10:20AM.  Now this year I didn’t need to do bag drop-off, which definitely helped speed things up.  Instead, I went super-minimalist and then The Girl simply held onto my keys and phone.  The weather was warm enough to skip any other pre-race clothing, given I was wearing a full Santa kit.

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With only a few minutes till the starting gun, I made my way towards the front of the crowds. The street was under construction this year, divided down the middle, making things a bit tighter to get through.

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My goal wasn’t to be on the starting line, but just close enough that I wouldn’t be totally blocked by the crowds.  I got as close as I could before the gun went off.

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Within about 60-80 seconds of the starting gun, I was crossing under the starting banner.  While the crowds were thick, I honestly wasn’t in much of a rush.  I haven’t done a ton of running lately (comparatively), and very little (almost no) interval work.  Santa costume or otherwise, a PR wasn’t exactly on the docket today.

Within a few hundred meters I ran past The Girl, who was with The Peanut on the side of the road.  She had hoped to run this race, but it wasn’t quite in the cards yet.

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She didn’t see me this time, though she was taking a video and captured me for a split-second within it:

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Beyond that, it was mostly just a lot of dodge and weave of other Santa’s.  Having started in a bit slower spot for a few minutes, once up to speed I was briskly maneuvering around others.

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My pace was holding in the upper 6:40-6:50/mile range (4:10/KM).  I was wearing three watches today.  Well, technically wearing two and carrying one.  I was carrying a Fenix3 that I had loaded an app on from a DCR Reader that was at the DCR Open House the night before.  The Connect IQ app (data field) allows you to use the manual lap button to re-align the mile markers and current paces mid-run, this giving you correct pacing, even if your GPS is over or under relative to the course markers.  This could be because you’re running extra each mile/kilometer, or because of buildings/etc…

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More on that in the next day or two though, as it was pretty cool – especially in the first two kilometers where I did a lot of weaving.  The way it works is sorta brilliant, and yet so simple.

The course is a three-loop course, which is an increase from the two-loop courses of the past.  I suspect this was done for security reasons, as it made it easier to secure the route (there was quite a bit of security).  I don’t think I’ve ever run a 3-loop race before, though it actually made time go by pretty fast.

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Of course, this was no normal race.  Here you’re watching the bucket full of crazy costumes go by.  Sure, there were thousands of Santa’s, but there were plenty of other costumes to be seen.  Folks that may not have gotten the memo, or perhaps got the wrong memo.

For example, the Easter Bunny that I didn’t get a good photo of, but this turkey will do:

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Or the Minions:

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And whatever this headless chipmunk thing is:

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It’s OK though, sometimes you’re just Lost in Translation.  Happens to the best of us.  However, one man was definitely #Winning with this outfit:

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As for the running portion of the race, things were going just fine and dandy.  I wasn’t running super hard, but rather just as a ‘pushed’ pace.  Mostly just enjoying the race, as I saw no reason to kill myself over it.

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On the tech front I had the Stryd running footpod power meter (connected to the Fenix3), the RunScribe pods on my shoes too, and then both an Apple Watch Nike+ Edition, and a Garmin FR35.  Oh, and I was shooting with a GoPro Hero5 Black.

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I generally take the GoPro Hero5 Black when I’m not planning on putting data on the images/video afterwards.  I had no plans for that here, so a smaller footprint than the VIRB Ultra 30 was in order.

In any case, a bit after 40 minutes I finished up my last lap and made my way up to the track.  This year the race would finish on a nearby track (only a few hundred meters from the starting area), again likely due to being easy to secure.  All people entering the area were searched.

I cruised down the relatively empty finish area.  Only about 32 out of 3,058 people finished ahead of me.

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The official times are all wonky on the site right now (they don’t show any finishers under 45 minutes as actually under 45 minutes).  Nonetheless, I finished in 44:18.  Again, not my fastest by any means, but I’m OK with having just enjoyed the race.

Post-Race:

After the finish line I picked up my nifty little medal.  The medal is actually glow in the dark, which is kinda neat.  The green portion glows, like a Christmas tree.

From there it was over to the tables to pickup some food and water.  As is usually the case, they have a pretty solid selection.

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And of course, being France they had hot wine (like a cider wine) available as well:

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Inside you could go and get a massage, or hot chocolate.  Both appreciated and certainly could go together.

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After that it was time to head home.  We swung briefly by a café to grab a bite to eat, but otherwise were looking forward to relaxing the rest of the day.  It had been a long and busy weekend – so some relaxing with The Peanut time was definitely in order.

Past Santa Races:

Wanna check out all my past Santa Claus 10K races?  No problem – here ya go!

2014-SantaRace 2013-SantaRace 2012-SantaRace

With that – thanks for reading!

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18 Comments

  1. Jay M

    RunDisney 5:30am start time. Nothing like finishing a race before your normal wake up time.

    No pics of the medal?

  2. Jacob

    “So we rolled out of bed around 9AM…” My are we lucky with our first child’s sleep habits. My first was also blessed in this way, but the second one wasn’t as agreeable. Normal wake up time is 6am, every day of the week. Hope the blessings continue for you. Training is certainly easier when you control your own schedule.

    • Jacob

      Jacob,

      I’m just reading the race post now and about spit out my coffee when I read “we rolled out of bed around 9am”… No my dear husband “WE” did not roll out of bed at such hour. Myself, the Peanut, and the dog had all be up for several hours getting our day aligned for a successful outing. smh

    • The Girl

      … sorry, I put your name in the comment-ers box. Sleep deprivation!

    • Jacob

      Aaahh, that sound more like it…

  3. Kyle

    Just curious, are you taking video most of the time with the GoPro Hero 5, then getting images out of it in the end using the capture app? Or are you taking photos as you go? I find the shutter is so slow on the GoPro that I either need to take burst or video to photo what I want while running.

    Nice job on the race! 44 min 10k is very good considering you have not had the chance to run much lately (at least according to Strava).

    • I generally just use either one-photo or three-photo burst mode, at least while running. Occasionally I’ll do video and take stills.

      I agree it’s a bit slow on the uptake though sometimes, so I sorta mentally plan for that a bit.

  4. Robert Black

    Anyone UK based or otherwise know where you can get a medical certificate to run in France? My doctor won’t even sign one privately I,e paid

    • Nigel

      You can get a medical certificate pretty easily from a doctor in France (if you’re healthy!) – why not make an appointment and pick one up the day before a race?

  5. Paul

    How did Apple Watch Nike + do comparing to Fenix 3 and Forerunner 35 in terms of distance, pace and HR accuracy? I own one myself and am contemplating switching it for one of the Garmins.

    Thanks,
    P.

    • It was off by by a fair bit – almost .2 miles, which is beyond my level of acceptance for a 10K. It’s what I’ve seen pretty consistently though, it’s not super accurate. The FR35 showed it at 6.24mi vs the Nike edition at 6.36mi. And for some reason the Nike Run Club app doesn’t show my run, even though the Apple Activity app shows it as originating from NRC. God the Nike software is horrible.

      It was funny, the F3 was actually increda-accurate beyond the first 1-2KM (it was off by .02KM each time on those, but that’s expected given the weaving). It was funny in that I was hoping it’d be wonky-off to demo the app a bit more, but it was clicking over within a meter or two of the line on the ground each time. Go figure.

      What’s notable here though is that it made the difference between being sub-7 (if I followed the Nike guidance) and above-7. Which is ironically the random breaking point in my brain I was aiming for.

    • Paul

      Thanks for your reply DC! I have similar observations. On my usual route it shows anything between 4.26 to 4.40 miles. Same watch, same route… I think you just convinced me to jump to Garmin side of the force. Cheers!

  6. Tobywankenobe

    With beard, you make a fine looking Santa my brother.

  7. Tim Grose

    That Race Screen CIQ data field sounds interesting. Of course in races it does assume they put the markers out in the right place and there are plenty of times I’ve known when you might well have been better off “trusting” your GPS. Will have to give it a try…

    • gingerneil

      Agree Tim – this looks excellent and a very simple solution to an annoying problem.
      I assume that the final file hitting garmin connect/strava etc has the recorded data and isnt changed by the in-race rounding.
      I’ll certainly have a play with it… finally, a decent and innovative us of IQ!

  8. Long Run Nick

    Have run with the AW2 for over 425 miles. Many runs with my Garmin235. Wrist HR very close. Distance- for me about .05-1.3 over my Garmin on routes that have been tested by more devices than I will admit to.
    I much dislike the touch screen, PIA. Buttons work better for me. Actual pace is a joke, pretty much like most watches. Would prefer lap pace. The HR numbers are quite small, especially for my 73 year old eyes. The Nike +app is pretty sad. Wonky for sure.
    Today it crashed at the 6.5 mile and I lost the data. I could retrieve from the workout app, but no splits.
    With today I decided I would just run with my Garmin and use the AW2 as a daily wear smart watch. That part works great and battery loss on average 1-2 % per hour. GPS/HR burns about 17-20 % per hour on my runs.
    I just started using Smash Run, that I like a lot and when my Stryd shows up Smash Run will be to show that stuff.
    Hey Ray, thanks for all you do. Hope my comments will possibly help,folks on the fence about a AW for running. To me no contest- Garmin rules! Nick

  9. Mo

    Hey there DC, just curious if you ever use a snorkel during your swim sessions and whether you have ever tried the Powerbreather. I’m going to purchase it as a gift for my boyfriend but thought I’d see if you have anything to say about it. I’m not really tech savvy but I’m guessing it’s not really a tech gadget, thus it wouldn’t get any reviews from you. I appreciate any comments. Thank you! You and your wife are so inspiring in so many ways!

    • I’ve used a snorkel in some swim session that are purely technique focused. So drills in other areas where you’re focused on keeping your head in the water (usually to watch some element of the stroke/etc…). That’s it.