If you come across your neighbor from the Ile de Ré, Chambéry or Douai running with an air even more concentrated than usual, the nose on his forearm fixing a transparent pocket containing his smartphone, it is maybe he is participating in the Paris marathon. At least in its connected version. The real one, already canceled in 2020, should have started this Sunday, April 11 from the Champs-Élysées and the organizer ASO wanted to mark the event by organizing, since Monday, April 5, a week of running.
Runners are encouraged to run 42 km around their homes at their own pace, which may consist of swallowing the distance at once or breaking it down. How do we make sure that clever little cossards do not cheat and post a supersonic performance on social networks? Very simple, participants must register (hence the smartphone) via Strava, an application well known to cyclists, which will measure their efforts, the course, the elevation, speed, etc.. “But we’re not going to check that they haven’t done 20 km on their bike, smiles Édouard Cassignol, ASO’s patron of consumer events, there is such a need to rediscover the race, the competition, the stopwatch that the runners have no reason to cheat ”.
Already 58,000 registered, the equivalent of a traditional marathon
The practice has not weakened, on the contrary, during the different phases of confinement, because running is one of the few disciplines able to adapt to the various government directives in terms of schedules, distance from home, etc. . “We even think that there has been an increase with people who have started because they were deprived of their usual sport. The fact remains that the cancellation of all the races has produced a lot of frustrations, I myself witness it as a practitioner ”, continues Édouard Cassignol.
The intuition seems to be confirmed since the virtual marathon had 58,000 registered on Wednesday 7, roughly the number of participants in the last real marathon of 2019, while there are still four days to register by Sunday April 11. . ASO had little reason to worry, since all the virtual marathons held around the world since the start of the pandemic have been successful. So much so that the next London meeting in the autumn will offer two races on the same day, one real and one connected. This is not foreseen by its Parisian cousin who will remain with his only traditional race, October 17, whose registrations will be open Monday April 12, the day after the arrival of the last connected runner.
Objective, to seduce women even more
This virtual marathon is also a kind of training start for candidates for the fall edition, which will necessarily be atypical, since it involves summer preparation while apprentice marathoners are used to warming their calves. in winter. This particularity will allow ASO to offer paid training content very soon and therefore to make the investment (a few tens of thousands of euros) profitable for its free connected marathon.
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The other mission of this à la carte and therefore possibly split-off marathon is to attract a new audience to running. The male practice tending to level off, it is indeed towards women that the eyes of race organizers and sponsors are now turning. While they constitute a good third of the numbers in traditional races, their proportion promises to be higher in this new version.