The Monaco 10K has been on my bucket list for a while now. Having spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years in Monaco, it was a route I knew I’d be pretty comfortable with and couldn’t have been a more convenient ‘destination race’ for me. As part of the Monaco Run Festival, they have the equivalent of the race for life (5K), the 10K which you can also opt to run in a relay (3 +7) and then the Riviera Classic which starts in Ventimiglia, Italy and finishes in Monaco, covering 23.8K of riviera coastline.
The race was ridiculously cheap to enter at €15 and whilst there was no medal at the finish line, race entry did include a very nice Nike technical t-shirt with the race logos on which I wore on race day. We had to walk over to Stade Louis II in Fontvieille on the Friday afternoon to register for the race and collect our race number – the race expo was fairly empty and easy enough to navigate if you can speak French. We had already submitted our medical certificates (a requirement for any French race) so the whole process was pretty seamless. I used this walk to get a few easy miles in our legs but ended up taking us on a few detours so my husband could see a bit more of MC – the ‘few miles’ soon ended up being 10K and left us with rather achy calves as it involved a lot of climbing.
The race started at 9.30am on the Sunday morning which meant we were up with the sunrise to fuel up as much as possible (NB: croissants are not the best race fuel) and despite our achy legs were raring to go. Up until this point my husband was unsure whether he would run the race with me, or just watch from the sidelines, being my #instagramhusband. I was absolutely over the moon when he said he would run – and despite the fact that he was really nervous (he hadn’t done any running since December!) he was utterly brilliant. It baffles me that he can do no exercise for months and then run a 10K with such ease…he really is an impressive human.
The start line at Port Hercule was incredibly quiet – we were all in the same pen and it felt like there were only a couple of hundred runners which made for a really pleasant experience after the thousands taking part in my last race. Again, all announcements were in French so you would need a good understanding of the language, however as with all races it’s pretty much common sense. The sun was shining and it was about 14’c at this point – perfect running weather. We set off on time and made our way out to Fontvieille for the first 2K, I was glad they sent us out this way as it’s the least pretty part of Monaco and meant that we had a nice route to look forward to after the half way point.
At about 4K I started to feel really thirsty and was desperately hoping for a drinks station (there was no mention of water stops in any of the race literature), luckily a water station appeared at 5.5K just as I was beginning to flag. I made the mistake of drinking half a litre too quickly and really felt it whilst running the next few K unfortunately – but still, it was good to feel hydrated. At about 6K we hit a strong headwind which lasted for about half a kilometre until we turned the corner at the beach club, giving us a lovely tailwind for the rest of the course. We then ran along Avenue Princesse Grace and had the beach to the left of us, and lots of lovely things to see on the right too – including my family’s apartment. I felt pretty nostalgic at this point thinking about the time I used to spend in this area and the tremendous fun I had.
We then ran through the iconic Grand Prix tunnel, which was really lovely as it provided a bit of much-needed shelter, plus the road was closed so it had the novelty factor of running the GP track, which I’m sure my husband loved. Immediately following on from the tunnel was the 8K marker and the Monaco Yacht Club, and then soon enough we were running along the home stretch, past the Stade Nautique Rainier III and across the finish line. The organisers used the outdoor pool complex as the post-race area, and this included lots of fresh fruit for the runners, water and granola bars. It was very well thought out and the snacks tasted amazing after such a hilly race.
These aren’t really negatives, as such, but more points of difference – firstly, there were very few spectators on the course, unlike a London race. Not that I expect the ageing billionaires to come out and cheer on a few hundred runners. This didn’t bother me at all as I had my biggest cheerleader running by my side and his constant encouragement and tough love each time we got to a hill was incredibly motivating. He also started shouting at me during the last K to speed up and told me I wasn’t running to have fun, but to win instead. Unfortunately there was an Italian chap just ahead of us who had been given a flag in the last few hundred metres to run with…I didn’t want to chick him as it looked like finishing the race meant a lot so I had to forego a sprint finish, but at least my conscience was clear. There were also no official race photographers at multiple points throughout the course, but again this wasn’t an issue as we ran with our GoPro so didn’t miss out.
All in all this was a really pleasant and fun race, and is one we’ve decided to run every year. I may even do the half marathon next year if I’m feeling brave enough. Following on from the race, we went back to the pool to swim (because, #Swimathon…) and then ate our body weight in pasta and gelato at a local Italian that evening. Destination races don’t get much better than this!