Marathon Date: 11/17/02
My Age: 66
My Finish Time: 4:36
My Marathon Rating: Most unique
Memorable Moment: Finish in Monaco Stadium
Monaco Marathon selection and registration:
As soon as I returned from the Medoc marathon, I started the process of selecting where I would run my 4th worldwide marathon. I spent a lot of time online looking for my next marathon challenge in Europe and came across a very unique marathon in Monaco – a country of only 1.9 square kilometers in size. The uniqueness of the marathon is that it goes through the borders of 3 countries – Monaco, France, and Italy. The marathon has been held for the last 8 years – the average number of marathon runners each year is between 800 to 1800. I registered on-line [6/4/02] with Activeeurope.com – the cost was 37.75 Euros. I received my Monaco marathon package 14 days later that had my race #  and an elevation map of the marathon race route as well as the events that will take place before and after the marathon. Prior to leaving for Monaco I had to get a letter from my doctor, which stated that I was medically fit to run the Monaco marathon without the letter they would not let me run the marathon.
Monaco Marathon Training Program:
To prepare for the Medoc marathon I used the same 18-week 750-mile training program that I used for the USMC, Dublin, and Medoc marathons. As the Monaco marathon was going to have 2 very steep hills along the marathon route at mile 3 [275 feet] and mile 20 [275 feet] I added weekly long runs that simulated the Monaco marathon route. It was a very difficult training schedule but I felt that if I did not train my body to be able to withstand the steep hills of the Monaco marathon that I might not be able to finish the marathon. Fortunately, I did not injure myself during the 18-week training program and was able to meet the majority of my running time goals. Prior to the start of my official Monaco marathon training program [I really train year round] I ran a number of races to get me ready for my Monaco marathon challenge. The races and results were:
4/06/02 20k race – finish time = 1:49 *1st in age group
4/28/02 Carlsbad, CA ½ marathon – finish time = 1:53 * 5th in age group
6/02/02 San Diego, CA Marathon [Rock n Roll] – finish time = 4:20 * 5th in age group
Monaco Marathon Travel:
I flew to Monaco on DELTA airlines [17 hour flight] departing from San Diego, stopping in NY, and then on to Nice, France. I stayed in the Le Meridien Hotel in Nice, France, which was right on the world famous French Riviera and also next to the beautiful Promenade des Anglais within walking distance to the train station as well as some very famous restaurants. I spent Thanksgiving in Nice but could not find a restaurant that served a traditional thanksgiving dinner, Turkey/etc; so I had a nice steak instead. There was an airline pilot’s strike and I had to stay in Nice an extra 2 days before I was able to fly back to the US. On my way back to San Diego I stopped in Boston, Massachusetts [11/28/02] to see my daughter Lisa. While in Boston I stayed in the Colonnade Boston Hotel until I left for San Diego on 12/02/02.
Monaco Marathon Highlights:
I arrived in Nice, France 3 days before the marathon – after I unpacked I put my running gear on and ran along the Promenade des Anglais for about 5 miles – running along the ocean reminded me of California. The second day, two days before the marathon, I woke early and ran along the Promenade des Anglais for 6 miles – returned had Breakfast in the Hotel and then spent the rest of the day walking around Nice and taking in the sites. On the third day I woke early and took the train to Monaco [about 20 minutes ride] and finally found my way to the Monaco Expo to pick up my number and race chip. I was really surprised to see that it wasn’t much of an Expo with only about 10 booths. After getting my number I did some sightseeing in Monaco and went into the Monte Carlo Casino to take a look around – didn’t try my hand at any of the games.
After seeing most of Monaco I got back on the train to go back to Nice and get in an easy run before I go out for my pre-race Past dinner. I ate my Pasta dinner at a restaurant that was recommended to me by some runners that I met while in Monaco. I ended up eating with them and although they were all from France, they spoke very good English. Got back to my hotel around 10:00pm – watched a little TV and prepared my gear for tomorrows marathon.
I got a very good nights sleep – woke up at 5:30am got dressed and went to get a light breakfast in the hotel before the marathon. After breakfast I walked up to the train station for the ride to Monaco and when I got there I found at least 100 runners standing around waiting for the train. I asked one of the runners waiting for the train when it would arrive he told me that it had broken down and no one knew when it would arrive. It was very apparent to me and the other runners that if the train did not show up in the next 30 minutes we would miss the start of the race. A number of the runners were trying to figure a way to get to Monaco by other means – some of the runners were talking about hiring a Taxi or renting a car and driving to the race. After some very anxious minutes the train finally pulled into the station to a very loud cheer from the assembled Monaco marathon runners. While on the train to Monaco I sat next to a man from Northern California who has run over 100 marathons. When we arrived at the Monaco train station we only had about 20 minutes to get to the start of the race, which was in front of the Monte Carlo Casino. I arrived at the start of the race with little time to spare – after finding my corral it was only about 5 minutes before the Monaco National Anthem was played and the countdown to the start of the race ended when the Prince of Monaco fired the starting gun.
The road at the start of the race was not very wide and runners were pushing and shoving to get out of the pack of runners. It took me about 10 minutes to cross the start line and I was finally on my way for the challenge of finishing my 4th worldwide marathon. The weather was cool for the start of the race but would get very hot by the end of the race – the toughest part of the race. A number of runners were carrying water bottles due to the fact that the water stations were every 3 miles. The route took us along the beautiful coast with the Mediterranean on one side and beautiful homes built into the cliffs and hillsides on the other side.
The first 3 miles of the race were mostly downhill and went along Monaco’s beautiful coastline where there very few people lined up to cheer us on. Once I passed the 3-mile marker I encountered my first 275-foot steep hill. It took me 3 miles of running up the steep hill before I reached the top of the hill – I was very glad that I did the extra hill training. The decent from the top of the hill took about 2.5 miles and when I reached the bottom my quads were very sore. The route was relatively flat for the next 15 miles tracing the Mediterranean coast, running through the Italian town of Menton, and eventually passing through a very long tunnel on our way to the turn around in Ventimiglia, Italy.
At mile 18 I faced the next 275-foot hill challenge – it took close to 3 miles to reach the top of the hill – along the way I passed quite a few runners who were walking up the hill. The descent to the bottom of the hill was much steeper than the first hill that I faced and when I reached the bottom of the hill I found quite a few runners stretching their quads due to the fact that they came down the steep hill too fast. Even though I did not push it coming down the hill my quads were very sore and I had to stop to stretch them out.
The last 2.5 miles to the Monaco stadium finish line were very flat but to get to the finish line you had to run up a steep ramp to get into the stadium. Once inside the stadium I took one lap around the track to finally reach the finish line. While I was running the final lap you could look up and see yourself on a very large screen crossing the finish line. After receiving my finisher’s medal I went to get some food, shower and head back to my Hotel. It was a very rewarding finish as it was one of the toughest marathons I had run up to that point. After the marathon I had trouble walking because my quads were really hurting me. It took me quite a while to get to the train station for the ride back to Nice. When I got back to Nice I tried getting a taxi back to the hotel but after waiting 1 ½ hour for taxi I decided to walk back to the hotel. The walk from the train station to my hotel normally takes me about 20 minutes – it took me an hour’s walk to get back to the hotel due to my aching quads. During my stay in Nice I had the opportunity to meet runners from France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden. There were 1,750 finishers in the Monaco marathon.