Hello, on March 10th 2012, you’ll be organizing the Bourg-en-Bresse Half Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?
Both the starting/finishing line and the race course have changed this year. The starting and finishing area is located on the sports ground of Bourg-en-Bresse’s Vennes neighbourhood, in the French region of Rhône-Alpes. The course stretches across three towns: Bourg-en-Bresse, Saint Just and Montagnat.
How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?
In 1980, the Entente Athlétique Bressane, the town’s athletics club, organised its first half marathon, which started in the town centre and was one of the first in the region. 246 runners turned up, including eight women. The winner was the French marathon champion, Bernard BOBES.
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?
The starting line is located in front of Bourg’s equestrian centre. The race heads immediately for the town centre, which it reaches by crossing the yard of a Louis XV style building, the recently refurbished hotel Marron de Meillonas. After crossing the streets of the town centre, where a large crowd is expected to encourage them, runners will race up a long avenue along the old maternity hospital, which was designed in the early 20th century by Tony Ferret and is now a school, as well as the 17th-century Hôtel-Dieu and the magnificent 16th-century Brou Church.
After the fast first four kilometres inside the town, the race will take rural roads in the towns of Saint-Just and Montagnat. Later, runners will begin their way back to the starting point along the golf course and then cross a residential neighbourhood.
How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?
We are expecting 1,500 runners. The race attracts experienced athletes both from the region and from abroad, as well as men and women who enjoy running with their families. Some of them will be taking part in their only official race of the year. The half marathon is also open to wheelchair athletes.
Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?
A 10-kilometre race is organised at the same time as the half marathon. The two races will start together and then diverge after six kilometres. Races for children will be held on the playing grounds before the start of the race.
At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?
Throughout the 30 years of history of the race, we have experienced all possible meteorological conditions. Sun, rain, snow, snow and sun, rain and sun… But we have only been forced to cancel the race once, due to heavy snowfall on the morning before the race.
Have you planned festivities around the marathon?
We will set up music entertainment areas all along the race course. This year we are introducing two new challenges: a fancy dress prize, awarded by a jury made up of prominent people; and a company prize (for administrations or associations), which takes into account the classification of three runners.
The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Bourg-en-Bresse before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?
After running by the Brou Church, athletes will be unwilling to leave Bourg without paying a visit to this royal monastery which Margaret of Austria had built in memory of her late husband, Philibert II of Savoy, and admiring their stone tombs with their recumbent statues. With regard to restaurants, there are many fine tables where you can sample tasty Bresse fattened chickens with cream and other carps or Les Dombes frog legs.
In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Bourg-en-Bresse Half Marathon?
The return of the Bourg-en-Bresse to the city centre is an event which all the athletes having taken part in this race have been awaiting for eleven years.
An interview with Bernard Beaume, Entente Athlétique Bressane – a group of male and female off-stadium runners who have worked throughout 2011 to revive this race by taking it to the town centre and making it an even more festive event.