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Nice-Cannes Marathon: defiant in the face of terrorism

by Susie Chan
Monday 19th December 2016
The French Riviera has been a draw for holiday makers for decades. Tidy, pretty towns and villages are dotted along the beautiful coast line, next to the sparking Mediterranean.
For nine years this scenery has been the backdrop to the Nice-Cannes Marathon. I went along this year to check out the race.
Due to the terrorist events that had occurred in Nice, the security was upped. In the aftermath of the events of the 14th of July, the race was cancelled. However, the organisers decided they would be defiant in the face of terrorism. Undeterred and unafraid, the race was put back, and a surge of race entries proved that people very much wanted to run.
The course was re-routed as a mark of respect. The new starting point is the Nice Allianz Riviera Stadium.
It made for a grand backdrop to the race start. I toed the line with about 13,000 other runners as the sun started to peak over the hills. Music blared out, people were in great spirits and the atmosphere was jubilant.
For me, this a perfect size for a marathon. Big enough, with enough people to feel like an event, and people to run with all along the route,  but not so big it’s a stressful start.  The klaxon went off and runners headed south. After about 5k, we hit the Riviera coastline.
Pockets of cheering crowds clapped us and we went from town to town, snaking our way along the largely flat course towards the bright lights and glamour of Cannes. The coastal route changed in scenery from modern town, to long flat beaches, to marinas, to historical little towns. The sun shone down on us, but it was not too hot at all, and merely added to the holiday feel of the race.
The race itself has relay and half marathon options for those that wanted to run faster or shorter.
There is also a full set of pace makers for those that are gunning for a particular time.  These runners peel off at designated spots, points where the crowds swell a bit clapping and cheering as you pass. By the time I had reached the half marathon, it felt like I had run far fewer miles.
There are a couple of climbs along the route. One of them is reasonably sharp at about mile 17. Here race organisers had made this a special segment with extra cheering to help you make to the top. When you get there, you turn a corner and can see Cannes waiting for you, along the coastline in the distance. 

Nice Cannes

If there is one thing I really enjoy, it’s running by the seaside.
The miles were enjoyable and for me flew by. It was so pretty, it really did not feel like a marathon.
Coming into Cannes you are greeted by a long blue carpeted finish flume and big crowds who cheer you over the line.  
There are free massages on the beach, a plentiful goody bag, t-shirt and decent medal. I joined many paddling my post-marathon legs in the sea, wearing my medal, quietly delighted with a surprise fastest marathon of the year. 
If you are thinking of heading overseas for a race, the Nice-Cannes Marathon is highly recommended, and not just because of the beautiful Mediterranean backdrop. The organisation is excellent from start to finish. As it’s a point-to-point race organisers put on regular buses to take you back to Nice, with many choosing to stay in Cannes to celebrate. The start and finish are slick, with a modest race village to collect your race pack from prior to the race and do a little last minute shopping if you need anything. The course, although it does have a few hills, is pretty and distracting enough. It certainly made the long marathon miles easier to run. I have run plenty of road marathons in my time, and many are not particularly scenic. This one is. 
Nice-Cannes Marathon is a  real gem of a race. 
Find out more about the race here.

About The Author

Susie Chan

Susie Chan is an endurance runner, who runs all sorts of races from 1 mile to 100 miles and beyond. Her favourite races are multistage ultras. Find her on Twitter @susie__chan Instagram @susie_chan_ or read about her races on her blog www.susie-chan.com

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