If you're up for a Marathon abroad this could be a good choice, it's growing in popularity and is the second biggest Marathon in France outside of Paris now, this year had 14,000 entries and you can enter the 1/2, full or team relay. It's a very scenic run that starts on the promenade in Nice and ends up in Cannes with 95% of it run by the coastline. It's flat with 'only' a 30metre elevation gain just when you don't need it at the 30km mark! They have 6 pacers in 15min intervals from 3hours to 4h30 which have big flags attached to them so you can stick with them and run to a time if that's your motivation.
For more info goto www.marathon06.com
The weather has been a shocker down there recently and I was hoping for some cool dry conditions without the strong mistral winds we got last year, in the end the temperature was just right with some rain to keep cool, although it got alot worse after I had finished.
If any of you guys are looking to do a 1/2 or full Marathon and have the inclination to follow a training program I can recommend the Hanson's Marathon Method, see the book by Luke Humphrey. I followed the Advanced program over 18 weeks and it worked out. It's alot of running, effectively 6 days a week however the longest run is no longer than 16 miles. In a nutshell the idea is that you run Mon Easy, Tues Speed intervals, Wed OFF, Thurs Tempo run, Fri/Sat Easy, Sun Long. A tempo run is done at your goal race pace.You follow that cycle for 10 weeks and the speed intervals turn into strength runs which are longer intervals at 10secs/km faster than tempo pace. You only get 1 day off a week so it uses active recovery on the easy runs, whereby you have to slow down, stay aerobic and burn the fat. The tempo runs are a good idea, since you pick your goal race pace and train accordingly, if you can't finish them then you probably need to revise your goal slightly. Most runs are 6-8 miles and the idea is that you get cumulative fatigue over weeks of training, whereby your legs never feel great, in fact it's trying to simulate what the latter part of a Marathon is like without the injury risk of long runs.
I felt pretty good going into the race I tapered slightly more than the program suggested based on feel, my plan A was sub 3hour with even splits, plan B was to beat my 3:20 PB and plan C was to fake an achilles injury. About hundred of us stuck to the 3hour pace maker which slowly whittled down to about 20 or so at the 30km mark with the 30metre hill destroying a few people's races. With 3km to go I dug very deep and dropped the pace maker and finished in 2:58 (173rd). Fortunately, i didn't hit the wall like Brighton earlier this year and the training definitely paid off, the Marathon is all about the final 10km!