On Sunday March 5, there will be pretty people on Pont de Sully, the starting point of the Paris half-marathon, a prelude to the marathon which will take place a month later, on April 2.
To put it simply, the best French specialists in long-distance races will be at the start.
And there will be a new kid on the distance, not just anyone: Jimmy Gressier.
European record holder in the 5 km on the road (13′18), he is a triple European hopeful cross country champion.
At the age of 25, he will experience semi-trail for the first time: “I wanted to do something new over the winter period, explains the Boulonnais from his base camp in Kenya where he is currently on an internship.
The preparation of a semi is similar to that of a 10 km.
It's still pretty short.
As I do not see myself doing a marathon yet, this choice was obvious.
With a record of 27'40'' over 10 km set last January in Valencia (Spain), the Northerner, bronze medalist at the 2021 European Cross Country Championships is aiming high for entry into the streets of Paris.
"I come to win," he says without hesitation.
I don't have a timeline in mind.
It will be necessary to be careful and not to leave too quickly.
I've adapted my training a bit and increased the weekly mileage, but I'm sticking to the plans for preparing for a 10 km or cross country.
The cream of the French background presents
With him, some of the best French half and marathon will be at the start.
Third French performer over the distance in 1h0′32′' (in Valence, in October 2022), Mehdi Frère will also be at the start.
Also on an internship in Kenya, he still prefers to wait before setting a goal for the semi, which is an important step in his preparation.
With Florian Carvahlo (1h0′58′'), Hassan Chahdi (1h01′21′'), Benjamin Choquert (1h01′32′') or even Yoann Kowal (1h02′17′'), France has several assets capable of disturbing African dominance.
A year ago, it was a Kenyan hat-trick and a victory for Boniface Kibiwott in 1h0′52′' which finished the race.
Moreover, since the creation of the event, victory has never escaped a runner from the African highlands, Kenya, Ethiopia or elsewhere.
"I'm really looking forward to it because it will be my first race of the year," says Hassan Chahdi.
The half of Paris will be part of a marathon preparation, probably in Boston, but it's totally compatible.
I'm going to approach it to make a big time.
I even hope to be able to get closer to my record (1h01′21′').
I have very good memories of Paris because I ran my first half there in 2015 and I had done a good 1h01′42′'.
And then, just over a year from the Games, it's good to show up in Paris.
The French will rub shoulders with the Kenyans Roncer Kipkorir (59′38, in Lille in 2022) Collins Koros (1h0′01′', in December 2021), Edwin Yator (1h0′43′') as well as Wesley Kimutai ( 1h0′45′').