A race leaving a positive footprint
The Green Marathon is a race like no other, and has been since it began in 2011. From the beginning, the race has had a humanitarian purpose. “Rennes didn’t have a marathon and I felt like that was missing,” explains Daniel Jeulin, president of the Association Sportive Rennes Cap Malo. “I also wanted to give it a humanitarian purpose, a social commitment.” To cut a long story short, the company director originally wanted to partner with the Ethiopian marathon runner Haile Gebresellassie, who, after initially agreeing, backed out just three days before the first event… But nothing was going to stop Daniel Jeulin who got back on his feet after a meeting with Yves Rocher, honorary president of the Yves Rocher Foundation. “The simplest of ideas came to mind: 1 kilometre = 1 tree planted,” reveals Daniel. The concept of the Green Marathon was defined.
A certificate for each runner
Since then the race has found all its meaning: 373,000 trees have been planted in Ethiopia, the equivalent of 10 hectares has been reforested, resurrecting entire villages. In 2016, other countries will reap the benefits of the Yves Rocher Foundation’s tree planting programme: the south of India, Portugal and the Breton towns and villages through which the race passes, with 1,000 trees being planted in Pacé for example. At the end of the race, each runner receives a certificate showing the number of kilometres they have run and the number of trees planted thanks to their effort. It’s a way to get everyone to use their energy to contribute to protecting the environment.
The Green Marathon’s success story is a tale shared with the entire Rennes area. Local associations from every borough have committed to the event and teamed with the 1,400 volunteers “without whom this kind of event wouldn’t even be possible,” points out Daniel Jeulin who also has the support of 85 partners. “Coming from the business world, I was lucky enough to get some big sponsors, some big companies on my side,” admits Daniel Jeulin who also relies on a 70-strong team of staff. A “small business” that works all year round to ensure the success of the Green Marathon.
A route combining town and country
The route links the city and the countryside, both landscapes found in and around greater Rennes. “The idea was to create a race that linked the north of the agglomeration with the city centre, starting from Cap-Malo. It’s a route that begins in the country and joins up with the urban landscape,” explains Daniel Jeulin.
In Rennes, the countryside is just a hop, skip and jump from the city. Well maybe a couple of hops, skips and jumps since all eight boroughs make up the marathon: Melesse, La Mézière, La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz, Montgermont, Pacé, Saint-Grégoire, Cesson-Sévigné and Rennes. For Daniel Jeulin, the marathon is also a great opportunity for runners to explore the city as they cross the finish line after running along the green carpet, placed on the cobbled streets in front of iconic buildings such as the Parlement de Bretagne. This discovery aspect is complemented by guided tours of the city offered by Destination Rennes over the weekend of 23 October as part of the marathon packages. These packages include a night in a hotel with breakfast, the guided tours, an exhibition pass to explore the museums as well as your number for the race. One more reason to sign up to this legendary race! (Read also 5 of the best runs for exploring Rennes)
Exercising, while exploring Brittany’s capital, and contributing to replanting trees in Africa: the idea is attracting an increasing number of runners. In just five years, participation in the Green Marathon has increased from 2,600 to 7,600 runners in 2015 when the race was an event of the official French Championships.
5 races for every type of runner
Not only is the success of the marathon built on the diversity of the route, but also the diversity of the races: five to be exact. There’s something for every runner, whatever their level. The off-road race is the marathon for amateurs who want to rub shoulders with the international champions competing in Rennes. Another special feature of the Green Marathon is the opportunity to complete the legendary 42.195km race in teams, with the Ouest-France relay marathon. “This opportunity to run with colleagues or friends works very well,” notes Daniel Jeulin, who values the bond that is forged in businesses thanks to this friendly rivalry. ‘”In a workplace context, people enjoy taking part in a sporting context outside the office. In the Konica Minolta group, 250 employees came from all over France in 2015, and over 300 are expected in 2016.” All in all, the relay race will include over 700 teams for the sixth year, meaning 3,500 runners!
A new 2-person relay for 2016
The best part of the relay race is when the entire team comes together to cross the finish line. “It’s an important symbol for team spirit, the runners love it and we don’t see it anywhere else,” points out Daniel Jeulin.
This team-building experience is now extended to a new race, the mcdonald’s duo enabling runners to complete the marathon in pairs with a relay point at Saint-Grégoire, half-way through the race. There are also two other races on offer over this sporty weekend: the Yves Rocher women’s race, a very pleasant 7.5km route that can be done running or walking. This race, exclusively for women, takes in Rennes’s historic sites such as the Parc du Thabor, the Place du Parlement de Bretagne, the city hall, the opera house and the banks of the Vilaine. For those seeking an intense walk, the “Lamotte Promoteur” Nordic walking route also offers a scenic 11km itinerary starting in the countryside and continuing along the towpath before finishing in the city.
Whatever your style or level, there’s a race for you, corresponding perfectly to each runner’s or walker’s preference. Exercise for all by nature. “A good pair of shoes is all you need to run a few kilometres. You can walk with or without poles wherever you like: on the beach, in the country along the roadsides…” says Daniel Jeulin. “Walking and running have huge benefits for health and well-being. These sports bring people together and aren’t costly.” The founder of Groupe Jeulin is also delighted to be able to welcome people with disabilities for the races, for “some truly special moments”.
Run, walk, plant trees… Simple actions that make the Green Marathon a unique sporting competition, “with values”. After all, in sport, just as in environmental protection, “it’s the taking part that counts”!