We are so excited about our D-Day Landings Marathon & Half Tour (plus Paris!) and we are can’t wait for you to experience it with us.  (June 14 – 21, 2019 or June 14 – 23, 2019 – click here to learn more.)

We’ll cut straight to the chase – we love France! I mean, really love it, and we love this race. And, we know that you will love this tour. Whether you’ve been to France before or it’s your first time, this will be an experience that will always stay with you.

D-Day Memorial

Normandy is beyond amazing. Not only will you see the beauty and hear about the history, but you will feel so much more. You will feel how much the French appreciate the sacrifices that American men and women made in the fight for freedom. You will feel what it must have been like to live or fight in this place during that time as your guide transports you back to 1944.

 

The race just adds to this experience by running through the French countryside with so many villagers cheering you on with “Allez!” and “Bravo!” Not to mention being able to start on Pegasus Bridge for the half marathon – the first bridge liberated by the Allies or running along the beaches for the full marathon. The cobblestone streets then lead you to the finish line to a roaring and enthusiastic crowd and French-inspired post-race snacks and Normandy delights.

Speaking of delights, in addition to igniting all of these senses, you will certainly ignite your sense of taste! Normandy, known for butter, Camembert, cider and Calvados, will have you reaping the rewards of your run. And moving on to Paris, you will, of course, enjoy the rest of what France has to offer with wine, more cheese, and pastries that are almost as religious of an experience as visiting Notre Dame.

Paris at nightAnd your time in Paris will not only offer you all the tourist things you’ve always wanted to see, but private experiences that you haven’t even considered. You will experience the capital city on a personal level with your local guide, eat at friendly, quaint restaurants and get to know what Paris is below the surface and beyond just a big city.

 

Book this once in a lifetime experience and come run with us!

Questions? We’d love to answer all of them. Feel free to call or message us.  Call Jessica at 970-445-0968 or Dan at 970-368-2326.

Check out the itinerary of this tour and get the specifics of all of the amazing experiences you will have.  Or, watch our video chat about the D-Day Marathon & Half Tour (plus Paris).

We are thrilled to have our amazing Great Breweries Marathon & 25k tour to offer you!  (May 10 – 17, 2019 – click here to learn more.)

antwerp belgium squareWe firmly believe that Belgium is underrated. Beer, chocolate, fries and waffles alone are a good enough draw. And a great reason to burn off some calories at the beginning of your trip! But seriously, Belgium is fantastic. The Belgian architecture is so unique and detailed and the Belgian’s are full of pride to share their country with you.

You will get to experience the city of Antwerp before and after the race and this city has so much to offer. It has an amazing history of being a port city for commerce and for those departing from Europe in and around WWII. Not to mention it has an amazing shopping and fashion community, being home to one of the oldest fashion academies and most renown fashion colleges. There are other things to do if shopping isn’t your thing…check out the many amazing pubs, visit the cathedral, tour the Ruebens house & museum if you are interested in art. The, list truly goes on and on.

Great Breweries Marathon 2017
Great Breweries Marathon 2017

But the race… the Belgians know how to enjoy their brews. The race runs through three top breweries in Belgium. And it finishes at one of those breweries where the celebration commences after the race. Tee shirt… check. Medal… check. “To go” box of a beer from each of those breweries… check. Three complimentary beers in, of course, the correct Belgian glass… check. So much fun and an amazing experience…. definitely, check! (Oh yeah, and there’s loads of fries & waffles post race as well.)

Bruges Canal and TowerThen we visit Bruges, quite possibly the quaintest town you’ve ever seen complete with more beer, more chocolate & canals everywhere with more amazing architecture. Nothing of Bruges has changed since at least the 1500s. So you can imagine how unique it must be. On top of all of that, you will visit the monastery where they make the best beer in the world!

Run your heart out and then enjoy the laid back culture (despite all the things to do!) that Belgium has to offer!

Book this once in a lifetime experience and come run with us!

Questions? We’d love to answer all of them. Feel free to call or message us.  Call Jessica at 970-445-0968 or Dan at 970-368-2326.

Check out the itinerary of this tour and get the specifics of all of the amazing experiences you will have.  Or, watch our video chat about the Great Breweries Marathon & 25k Tour.

I speak French.  Not nearly as well as I would like, however.  Duolingo tells me that I’m 48% fluent.  My conversations with Parisians tell me otherwise.  (My tutor is helping me with this!)

It’s a foggy morning, a Normandy foggy morning.  You need a knife and fork to cut the air (un couteau et une forchette).  Dan and I walk to the Caen Parc des Expositions where I catch the bus to Pegasus Bridge, the start of Les Courants de la Liberte half marathon (it also happens to be the first bridge liberated by the Allies in Normandy.)  It also happens to be just a few days after D-Day.  It’s always fun to see and feel the excitement of race day.  Even in another country, it’s the same.  Some are dressed in goofy outfits, some are stretching, some look really serious, some are cool and joking around.  I say goodbye to Dan and get on the bus.  I’m surrounded by people, but can’t follow any conversation.  So, I kinda feel alone, on a bus, in France to go run 13.1 miles in a foggy abyss.  I’m refusing to text Dan as my battery is running down and I need it for my running tunes!  Thanks to those of you who chimed in on Facebook and gave me suggestions for good running songs.

Here We Go…

We arrive at the start about an hour before the race.  Great, I’ve got loads of time.  There’s a lot of chatter, again, too fast for me to understand anything.  But, there are loads of lines at the porta potties.  There’s a universal language!  One woman walks out of the porta potty and is mortified as she only then sees the line and realizes that she just budged in front of all of us.  I wonder what the word for “budge” is en francais?  She gets a lot of chuckles.  It’s all good lady.

D-Day Race Start Normandy

10 minutes to the start and as I’m in line, the announcer is trying to jack everybody up with clapping and high fives.  I can barely see much of Pegasus Bridge.  Did I mention the fog??  The gun goes off and away we go.  It’s a bit of an incline at the start, so I can see everyone in front of me.  Yeah, I’m slow, so there’s plenty of people in front of me.  I’m taking it all in.  Spectators cheering us on.  Check.  Little kids with posters with messages to Daddy, “Papa, tu es très vite!”  This I understand!  (In English, “Daddy, you are very fast!) Check.  Quintessential stone buildings that tell you, “Hey, you’re running a half marathon in France.”  Check.  Feeling like you are part of something really cool.  Definitely, Check.  At that moment, there’s a shift and I have this moment of clarity…runner’s high already?!  My thought, “we’re all the same.”  (Relatively speaking, of course.)  We’ve all trained for this day on some level, no matter how easy or hard this may be for any of us.  Spectators flock to support those cruising through their little village.  Yep, we have this at home.  Oh, look, cute kids wanting high fives, yep, done this before.  Love it!  I ran all over the course to make sure I slapped every hand of every little kid and that one adult looking for a high five.

Bravo!

D-Day Race Normandy VillagePeople are splitting off into twosomes, lots of singles.  Some are walking already.  Some listening to music, some chatting, giggling.  I’m running this alone, but with each step, I don’t feel that way at all.  This race prints the name of your country on your bib if you aren’t from France.  I’m the only one from the USA as far as I can tell.  Still don’t feel alone though.  We run through more villages with more spectators, more kids, more inspiring posters… there are even bands at a few villages.  Amid the constant sprinkling of spectators whether it be in villages or on a dirt path in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, I experienced my favorite memory…picture this, a driveway that appears out of the woods, hosting a cute little old Frenchman with his wool cardigan and cap, calmly yet continuously clapping his hands and saying, “Bravo! Bravo!”  I’ve never received an authentic, “Bravo!” before…you know, doing something actually “Bravo!” worthy while I was in France.  Definitely did not feel alone.  And then I see an older gentleman go out of his way to make a fellow runner not feel alone.  He takes a quick zig to the right, pats a guy on the back who is walking and just zags back to his spot.  Heart melts.

Almost There

D-Day Race High Fives!And now I’m 10 miles in and I think, “oh, I got this”, now it gets fun because I’m feeling good.  The long downhill stretch didn’t hurt either.  We’re back in town, leaving the poppy fields and cute Frenchman behind.  Hello, cobblestone.  You are super fun to run on.  Ha!  But the energy is awesome.  In Europe, they often print your name on your bib, so people are yelling your name.  Your name!  “Allez, Jessica!”  So cool.  I slap some more 5-year-old hands. I make eye contact with a few people as I have a huge grin on my face and I see the same spread across their face.  I come around the corner and it’s almost over…”What?  No!  This has been so fun!”  I’m trying to look at all of the spectators lining the very packed last third mile of the race.  Everyone is so into it…and so am I.

We Are One

pegasus half marathon finish lineThe thought never left me that how ironic it is to do something that is just you, it’s all you.  This isn’t a team sport, running (at least not always).  Yet, here we are, people from the US, France, Poland, the UK.  We are all here for the same thing, our love of putting one foot in front of the other.  The love of where those feet will lead us.  The love of how they got us here in the first place.  And all the fun along the way.  We might be from different places, with different political views, different colors, but we are all there to do the same thing.  Despite my need to work on my French, I never felt alone.  If you don’t want to feel alone, try a race in another country.

Normandy is beautiful, but there are also many WWII historical sites where we will learn the personal stories (sometimes triumphant, sometimes tragic) of those who helped to win freedom for France and the World.  The D-Day Marathon & Half Marathon take us by many of those historical sites.  You may not be a history buff, but the D-Day stories will give you goosebumps and the rest of our tour will give you time to relax and enjoy Paris!

Paris is our favorite city in Europe!  Paris has many must-see sights, but it also has so much more for those of us who like to immerse ourselves in the neighborhood culture.

If this is your first visit to Paris, we will give you time to visit some of the iconic landmarks: impressionist art at the Musee d’Orsay, Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre… the list goes on and on!

But, we will also slow down and give you a feel of the “real” Paris – cute neighborhood shops, the many parks and gardens where you can just relax with a baguette for lunch, or the outdoor cafe where you can sit with a glass of rosé and just watch Parisian life go by.

 

The run is obviously unique!  If you have done the Marine Corps Marathon, this marathon must be on your bucket list.  The marathon takes us along the famous beaches and battle sites of the Normandy Landings (Juno and Sword Beaches, the Casino d’Ouistreham, Pegasus Bridge, etc.) making your way to the finish line in Caen.  The Pegasus Half Marathon, named after the famous bridge from which it sets off, was the first bridge liberated by British soldiers from the 6th Airborne Division.  You will wind your way through quaint villages and the idyllic French countryside to the finish in Caen.

Click here for the full running tour itinerary and details for the D-Day Landings Marathon & Half Marathon.

Traveling to a destination marathon can be stressful and difficult. Get the most out of your destination marathon with these 5 travel tips.

Get Over the Jet Lag

Plan your destination race travel carefully!  You want to get there in enough time to get over your jet lag.  We like to plan our tours so that runners arrive on Friday morning for a Sunday race.  This is enough time to adjust, but not so much time that you are tiring yourself out with visiting tourist sights.

Find a Great Hotel

This goes hand-in-hand with getting over the jet lag!  You need a great hotel in a great location to help you perform at your peak in your destination race.  At Finish Line Travel, we have tried out many hotels, so we know the ones that have comfy beds, spacious rooms, peace and quiet, and the most attentive staff.

You will want a hotel near the race start… usually.  Each city and marathon is different.  Some are right in the city center, some are on the outskirts of town, and some are point-to-point.  Research your destination marathon and see if it makes sense to be in the best location for your touring activities, or for the race.

At Finish Line Travel, we choose a hotel that maximizes our enjoyment of the city.  It is close to all the great sights, but we also make sure it’s good for running.  We stay near parks or pedestrian-friendly areas so you can get out for a shake-out run before the marathon, or get out later in the week to work out your soreness.  Often, we will be near the race start, but if not we coordinate a private transfer to and from the race start.

Set Your Expectations

International travel is tiring and can be stressful.  You may not be able to find your go-to pre-marathon meal.  You may have spent all week on your feet visiting tourist sights.  You need to factor everything in when setting your race expectations.  This may not be a PR, but it will definitely be fun!

With a Finish Line Travel tour, we plan every detail so we can to minimize anything which could be detrimental to your marathon performance.  We take all the stress out of your travel.  We plan our touring activities to make sure your legs are fresh!

There’s More to the Trip than Just the Run!

Don’t just fly in for a destination marathon, run your race and then fly out!  You have traveled all that way, so spend some time getting to know the city and country of the race.

We hire private local guides to show us the top sights and the hidden gems of the area.  We set up private curated experiences to go deeper into a culture.  Whether it’s a private wine-pairing dinner in Paris, a private beer tour in Belgium, or an artisan cheese tour in Switzerland, we create an experience that you can’t get anywhere else!

Run “Local” in a Foreign Country

The “World Marathon Majors” are an amazing experience, but don’t pass up a “local race.”  In some of our marathons, you may be the only runners from the U.S.A.!  While the races we participate in aren’t “small” (some have up to 40,000 runners), they are more “local.”  Whether it’s the Great Bruges Marathon in Belgium, the D-Day Landings Marathon in Normandy, or the Swiss City Marathon in Lucerne, you will be part of a first-class event, but slightly off the beaten path of major marathons.

You will get a chance to interact with the locals, enjoy a festive marathon party with local runners, and share a post-marathon beer with your fellow runners in a way that isn’t possible at a marathon major that has almost as many foreigners as locals.