Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Race Review : Rock 'n' Roll 10 Miles Carnival du Nice

"Bravo! Bravo les danseurs! Bravo les danseurs plus belle!"
"Un peu de chocolat??"
"Merci beaucoup"
"We all live in a yellow submarine…"
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...
It's a sunny 14 degrees, and I'm running along the cote d'azur seafront in a tutu next to Alex, similarly attired, being pursued by The Beatles and eating chocolate. As Sundays go I've had far worse, but maybe not many that feel as surreal. Dressed in my jazziest running gear, face painted with eyeliner, I was running 10 miles on an amazingly sunny day that faded to overcast greyness just 15 minutes after crossing the finish line.
The 10 Miles Carnival du Nice race is part of the Rock 'n' Roll series and makes up part of the annual Nice Carnaval. With around 2,400 entrants, it's relatively small but it's low entry fee draws people from all over, not least the UK and America (so many Americans!). Fancy dress is strongly encouraged with prizes for several categories and all attempts rewarded with a fancy ribbon for your medal instead of a plain orange one. I saw batman, teenage mutant hero turtles, many many rockers, grass skirts and tutus were in abundance but the best I saw was the Mona Lisa.
Mona Lisa
The field is far from frivolous though. I was really pleased with our time of 1:44:24 but were very much towards the back of the pack; even in fancy dress people were very speedy! The mayor of Nice even took part, finishing in 1:28:22! Being set off in three waves meant the course never felt crowded and there was none of the awkward jostling for position, a real treat!

Mile markers spotted whilst out sightseeing made it suddenly feel very real
Entry ranges from 22€ to 35€ depending on how far ahead you enter and this gets you a technical t-shirt, fantastic medal and a fabulous race experience. I was already somewhat familiar with the French approach to races and marshalling. The water stations were not only well manned but had a buffet of orange wedges, banana pieces and squares of chocolate. Marshals were plentiful and did have words of encouragement but crowds were more reserved than the English counterparts. 

Of course, being a Rock 'n' Roll run there was music. There were four bands on the route, which doesn't sound like many but given it's 3 miles out and back in one direction then 2 miles out and back in the other you get to pass them all twice. The ingenious use of speakers means you actually get to hear them for longer than the 10 or 20 seconds we were treated to at RTTB in London.
Not quite the Salvation Army...
The warm up and after race zumba party were extremely well done, although I was disappointed that I didn't have enough energy to take part in the zumba, even after scoffing cake, chocolate and banana in the race village. The atmosphere is infectious and I challenge anyone taking part not to grin like a loon, even on the hill that runs up the edge of the park near the port. I didn't want the race experience to end but eventually we tore ourselves away from the party and shuffled back to the hotel, still pointing out costumes that caught our eyes. All participants were treated to an extended happy hour at a bar in the old town which we took full advantage of, stuffing ourselves with nachos, quesadillas and cheesy chips washed down with lashings of Long Island Iced Tea and worked off on the dance floor until we were kicked out at closing time.
Post race feeding frenzy!
I would seriously consider going out to do the race again. I'm getting quite a taste for travelling to run and Nice is a lovely place, especially at Carnaval time. It's also a good intermediate distance between 10k and half marathon. We made a long weekend of it, easily done when there are so many inexpensive hotels in the centre and plenty of great places to eat, even with me being vegetarian. It's also given me a taste for the other Rock 'n' Roll races. I know we have a few in the UK but I've got my sights set on Vegas. I saw a 2011 Vegas t-shirt in the melee and I know Angry Jogger has done the full marathon but I would be happy doing the half. I have so many great photos and memories of the weekend… sigh… can I go back now please?

Have you run abroad? What was your favourite race or which would you like to do?