The Cévennes (Lozère – the southern part of the Massif Central)
Why do it
This is one of the French classics, attracting a wide range of runners, including a fair elite section. In case you think it’s a bit rich organising a race that is a kilometre or so longer than the half-marathon, think again. Any thoughts of running fast can be forgotten for this point-to-point, which, for a road race, could euphemistically be described as ‘rather hilly’ (560 metres up, 500 metres down), taking in some of France’s most splendid natural scenery (a cross between the Lakes and the Peaks, but on a grander scale). Three days of festivities surround the race itself, with fireworks and concerts. And, instead of a pasta party, you get an aligot party (the local speciality – cheesy potatoes) on the evening of the race. That’s followed by a midnight parade through the town, if not in your birthday suit (though some do), then in ‘petite tenue’, with prizes for the best ‘costumes’.
€14 (€16 after July 1). No registration on race day
Semi-Marathon Marvejols Mende Café de la Paix, BP 93, 48001 Mende Cedex, France; tel 00 33 466 49 30 29; fax 00 33 466 49 36 70; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
; web http://www.marvejols-mende.org
Race starts at 9am. Free train from Mende (the finish) to Marvejols (the start) on the morning of the race. Showers available.
By road – for Mende, come off the autoroute E11 a couple of hours south of Clermont Ferrand, taking the N88. By rail – stations at both Mende and Marvejols. By air – local airport at Rodez with flights via Paris.
Where to stay
Dormitory places are available for runners (€10) and accompanying persons (€16) if you book before June 30. Otherwise there are plenty of campsites and hotels available. Contact the Office du Tourisme, 48003 Mende; tel 00 33 466 940 023. Be aware that July is the height of the tourist season, so book early.
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