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Urban Experience – Lyon Urban Trail Race

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  • Sarah Tunstall
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It is not often I get excited about going to a city! However, my visit to Lyon proved a bit different…racing around the streets as an alternative to any sightseeing tours. Sunday provided my first experience of Urban Trail running…which may seem to many, including myself, a complete oxymoron!! Trail running, through the third largest city in France?? …I was skeptical!!

However, arriving in Lyon on Saturday…the mighty Rhone and the stream of runners, cyclists, skate boarders and walkers lining the banks provided the first inkling that Lyon was not your average city. Registering at the stunning City hall of the Hotel de Ville (which also served as the start/finish area) in the hub of the city and exploring some sections of the course…you couldn’t help but be impressed with the buildings, stunning architecture and vibe that Lyon possesses.

Lyon itself is classed as an UNESCO World Heritage site and the course covers a combination of river paths, parks, narrow alleys and +1000ft of climbing (including god knows how many steps!!) To finish we run through the arches and ancient foyer of the Hotel de Ville, usually a tourist attraction but for Sunday it opened up as a marble floored sprint finishing funnel! It was safe to say skepticism was subsiding and I was struggling to feel the usual dread of a road race, instead thinking if I’m in the city, what better way to see it!

What better way to see a new city..
What better way to see a new city..

I usually thrive off Mountain scenery and views, but Lyon did not lack in panorama. At various high points views across the city provided an insight into the buzz Urban Trail running has to offer…plus the Alps were still in eye shot!! Cities obviously have a lot of history, architecture and qualities to offer in their own right and I can see the rationale behind urban running, you are still off the beaten track for all those not yet convinced but in a different environment. Maybe Lyon is the crème de la crème but I could see run tours, maybe even around British cities; Manchester/London/Edinburgh for example where paths, canals, parks and roadways away from the hustle and bustle could be a greener and more enjoyable way of exploring a city. It definitely appeals to me more than open-top buses, more often or not being held up in a one-way systems!

It is rare to find something new, running for 20+ years often brings a monotony of some courses and events. This was certainly a refreshing change. I can liken the style of running most similarly to cross-country; surging in to climbs, descents, corners and bottle neck areas all came in handy tactics as I furiously raced another female around the streets! I was delighted to take the win in a hard fought battle, but even more delighted that a new event seems to have emerged that ticks my off-road boxes in a city environment… I’ll certainly be keen to try another urban trail, in another city especially as you don’t even require a selfie stick in the compulsory kit!

A hard fought (but enjoyable) win!
A hard fought (but enjoyable) win!

The nature of these courses mean pb’s and Garmins are pretty obsolete but to race

By Sarah Tunstall 


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