Running In Normandy
One of the UK’s nearest neighbours, Normandy, is already known and loved for its great outdoors – but if you don’t want the hassle of hiring gear or booking lessons, simply don your running shoes and get out onto a coastal or countryside path for free!
Rouen and the Seine Valley have particularly lovely places for running. Leaving from Le Trait, the 4 Sapins, the Château d’Eau or La Haye de Yainville, the Grand Tour of Le Trait offers three equipped jogging trails of 2, 3.5 and 5.5 kilometres in the heart of the Le Trait-Maulévrier Forest. You can also head along the Cotentin coastal trails or the vast D-Day Landing beaches, taking in the power and majesty of nature as you go.
More serious runners should take note of Normandy’s various races and add them to their training calendars – they’re a great way of combining a fitness regime with a holiday. Make sure you’re all set to go with a medical certificate from your doctor that is less than a year old, as this is compulsory in France. Here are our top picks:
May 2020: 10km d’Avranches
Set out from Place Patton where a memorial stands to the renowned WW2 general and a Sherman tank stands guard. You’ll run through streets named in memory of the world wars on French soil as you head down Voie de la Liberté and return to the memorial via Rue de Maréchal Foche. Three circuits around the route completes the race in an historic town that overlooks the Bay of Mont St Michel.
3 May 2020: Wings for Life, Rouen
Normandy is playing host to the French leg of this worldwide event for the fourth time, and it’s a race with a difference: instead of a specific distance, you run as far as you can before getting caught by the ‘Catcher Cars’ released half an hour after the race start. The route follows the Seine from the medieval city centre, all in aid of spinal cord research.
May 2020: Mont Saint-Michel Marathon, Cancale
Setting out from the pretty fishing town of Cancale, there’s instant motivation in this race as you can see the finish line at the iconic Mont Saint-Michel straight away – and with a route sticking close to the Brittany coastline, you may have a hard time focusing on your gait as you’re hit by spectacular view after spectacular view.
June 2020: Normandy Running Festival, Caen
Known in Normandy as “Les Courants de la Liberté”, this festival is a whole weekend of running events that even includes a roller-skating race through the streets of Caen. It features three separate marathons, all finishing in the city: the D-Day Landings marathon or Caen marathon leaving from Corseulles-sur-Mer; the Pegasus Half Marathon from the Pegasus Bridge at Bénouville; and the 10km Crédit Agricole Normandie, crossing Caen from north to south.