Marcq-en-Baroeul Half Marathon – Lille – Sun 16 Sep 2018

John Falvey reports on a weekend in Ealing’s twin town near Lille…

After much advance planning (half an hour), Fiona and I booked ourselves onto the Marcq-en-Baroeul “semi marathon” (actually 7K for me) three weeks before the race. Fiona immediately embarked on a full week of intensive training for a distance she hadn’t run in four years – then we went on holiday for a week.

We met up with Lynn and Martin at St. Pancras on the Friday morning and were whisked off to Lille in the Eurostar. With time to kill we did a walking tour then a running tour of Marcq, the latter highlighting my lack of map reading skills. Friday in Marcq proved very popular for diners and the only place in town with space was a pizza parlour, which fortunately proved to be quite good.

After a day at leisure in Lille, on Saturday evening we were due to receive the customary warm welcome with a pasta party. Unfortunately we somewhat underestimated the length of the walk to our host Christian’s house, resulting in a worried phone call from him to enquire exactly where we were. Les Amis d’Ealing had laid on a large spread and Christian had extended his dining table with trestle tables to accommodate all the diners – Martin and Wilton attempted to demolish these at the end of the evening, but no damage was done.

John, Fiona, Martin, Wilton & Lynn “avant le Start”

The race day started bright and sunny with Lynn and I running the 7K race at 8:45. She disappeared like a whippet when the starting gun fired and it took me 2K to catch her. Half way through the race she pulled her dark glasses down and surged away leaving me in vain pursuit.

Wilton looking focused

Next up was the main event. Despite Wilton claiming it was just a training run for the Ealing Half he set off at 92 minute pace, only slowing in the second half but still recording a big PB of 97:19.

Fiona and Martin took a more cautious approach and were pleased with their times of 1:40 and 1:53 – a product of their rigorous training programmes no doubt. As a bonus Lynn and Fiona both won their age categories.

One thing that couldn’t be faulted was the on-course catering, each “water” station offering orange segments, cake and cereal bars (as well as water, bien sur).

There are 12 people coming over from Marcq for the Ealing Half Marathon, let’s see if we can make them as welcome as they made us.

Scenes from the festival of Saint Vincent d’Automne, which takes place on race weekend