well, actually it's now Neuilly sur Marne to Kaysersburg Vignoble (previously Ribeauville)
Potted history... from 1926
The first edition was in 1926 starting in Paris and finished in Strasbourg - a total of 504km
in 1933 the distance went up to 535km.
No races were held during the war years 1938-1948 and the Paris Strasbourg resumed in 1949. These early years saw up to 77 participants in each race.
Change of direction...
In 1952, the race changed direction starting in Strasbourg and then in 1976 it reverted to Paris - Strasbourg.
During the years 1977-1980, the race once more started in Strasbourg. In 1981, on the 55th anniversary, the town of Colmar was the finish venue, some 513.5km from Paris.
And so the Paris - Colmar was born.
In 1988 the first edition of the ladies race started. By this time, the race had a "prologue" race in the centre of Paris, but the "main" race (men) started in the Paris suburbs, initially Montreuil.
Whilst the mens race was 533km, the ladies raced 368km.In brief:
- The following year, 1989, the ladies started in Epernay (when the first man arrived) and covered the 376km to Colmar.
- Three Centurions took part in this edition: Ad Leermakers (NED), Jean Cecillion (FRA) and Sandra Brown (GBR). Sandra did not finish. Also invited but did not start was Ed Shillabeer (GBR)
- The following year was a better result for Sandra when she came in 2nd lady. 1990 was also Richard Brown's first attempt at 522km and he finished a successful 9th.
- In 1991, Ad Leermakers and Jean Cecillon finished the 523km and Sandra, once more, came in second.
- 1992: Sandra Brown came in 2nd lady and Richard Brown moved up to 6th place in the mens race. Also competing was British Centurion, Ann Sayer who completed 200km - just 133km short of Colmar. Invited, but did not start, was British Centurion Kathy Crilley.
- 1993 Jean Cecillon continued his successful Paris Colmar career finishing 7th. British Centurion, Alexei Rodionov (RUS) was 8th man and Ivo Majetic (TCZ) - US and Australian Centurion, finished in 10th place. Competing in the women's race was British Centurion Jill Green who came in 8th
- Centurions competing in 1994 were Rodionov (2nd), Cecillon (5th) Leermakers (11th) and Jill Green placing 4th in the ladies race. 1994 was quite significant, in that one of the selective races was the 200km de Londres organised by Surrey Walking Club.
- British Centurion, Ann Sayer completed 266km in the 1995 race. Rodionov placed 4th in the mens race and walkers from 9 countries participated. Truly international.
- More successes for Centurions in 1996: Ivo Majetic was 3rd man and Jill Green was 8th in the ladies race
- 1997 when Rodionov was 2nd man with Majetic placing 3rd. Once more, British Centurion Kathy Crilley was selected to compete but did not start.
- 1998 saw Rodionov come in 2nd man and the following year he was placed 3rd man, followed by Majetic in 10th place.
- 2000 saw the retun of Jean Cecillon (6th place)
- 2001 Cecillon was 7th man. Marleen Radder-Williams (NED) was 1st lady and again in 2002 with Cecillion finishing 3rd man.
- These last three years saw a jump to 535km for the men and 360km for women.
- 2002 saw the introduction of a new race the "Promotion" which meant there were now 3 races involved.
- 2003 - the mens race reduced to 515km and the distance for the ladies race went up to 366.5km
- 2005 saw the mens race further shortened to 440km and similarly 291.5km for the women.
- No race in 2004
Plans are now going ahead to reconfigure the race for 2021 and also to create a new Paris Alsace website. (at December 2020)
2020 will see the race finish in the lovely town of Kaysersberg Vignoble. The route will be the same as 2019 until Orbis and then slightly altered - no final route description yet.
Well this was the plan but the Coronavirus pandemic had other ideas and the race was cancelled.
Paris (Neuilly sur Marne ) - Ribeauville
For many years the town of Colmar welcomed this classic race on its final stage. In 2015 a new organisation and a new race was born: the MMO - Marche Mythique Organisation which has sought to replicate the magic of the Paris Colmar of old.
So, now the race heads towards the pleasant town of Ribeauville instead. Well, that was until 2020....
All these races rely on the good will of the local authorities, police and sponsors and so the arrangement with Ribeauville has come to an end.
Video footage from the 2017 edition in which Centurion Tony Mackintosh competed. watch here - Paris Alsace 2017
No matter where the start and finish are - the elements and magic of the race remain: it's a stage race with cut off times and the comeptitor needs a support team!
Everything you need to know if you want to take part in the Paris Alsace (well almost everything!)
Over the years qualifying races have been held in a variety of towns (and countries) and have grown in number and now reduced to 7 races, although some are only held on alternate years.
As ever, athletes will be invited to participate dependent on their performances over the qualifying races during the racing season. The qualifying races start in August of the preceding year:
- Wadelincourt 24H (BEL) alternating with Vallorbe 24H (SUI) (August) however, then very often the Vallorbe race is cancelled so the first race will then be Roubaix)
- Roubaix 28 hours (September)
- Bourges 24H (Feb/March)
- Chateau Thierry 24H (March)
- Le Grand Est (March/April)
- Dijon 24H (April)
The race: now in three distinct categories
The 2018-19 season saw another new departure, in that anyone who wanted to compete in the 2019 race (and had taken part in the previous qualifying races) did not necessarily need an actual invite.
The Noceene was introduced for male walkers who wanted to experience the race but not necessarily wanted (or was invited to the Mytique - the men's race) but in 2019 (after a bit of a protest!) women are now allowed to participate....
The Vosgeenne is the original womens race but in 2019 men are now included!
La Mythique - 426 km : (Men)
Circuit Neuilly-sur-Marne, 9,200 km, start: 5 June 16 h
Château-Thierry - Epinal, 360,500 km, Start: 5 June from 20 h
Plainfaing à Ribeauvillé, 56,300 km, Start: 8- June from 9h to 10h
La Vosgéenne - 303,100 km : (Men/Women)
Circuit à Neuilly-sur-Marne, 9,200 km, Start: 16 h
Château-Thierry à Château-Thierry, 34,800 km, Start: 5 June from 20 h
Vitry-le-François à Epinal, 202,800 km, Start: 6 June from 16 h, [2 hours rest at Bar-le-Duc.]
Plainfaing à Ribeauvillé, 56,300 km, Start: 8 June from 9 h to 10h.
La Nocéenne - 227,200 km : (Men/Women)
Circuit à Neuilly-sur-Marne, 9,200 km, Start: 5- June 16 h,
Château-Thierry à Vitry-le-François, 161,700 km, Start: 5 JUne from 20 h
Plainfaing à Ribeauvillé, 56,300 km, Start: 8 June from 9h45.
Paris Alsace stages (2018)
The race is now broken down to stages where the race is "neutrsalised" at each stage finish. Within the stages there are control points (PCS) whihc the athlete must reach before it closes to avoid being dq'd.
- Stage 1 Neuilly sur Marne (all) 2018 saw a new stage 1 which consisted of 8 laps of 1050 meters around the Mairie. Previously, Stage 1 has started in Neuilly and finished in St Thibault.
- Stage 2 Chateau Thierry (all) Once again 2018 saw a new departure for the race:a 34.8km loop heading back towards Paris, going south of the river Marne to Charly sur Marne (19.9km) and then north of the river back to Chateau Thierry - 14.9km. The women stopped here (transfer to Vitry le Francois for the start stage 3) but the men continued to the stage finish in Epinal.
- Stage 3 (Men): Chateau Thierry - Epinal. This stage includes a compulsory 2 hour stop in Bar le Duc. A stop en route (often for a medical check) has been a feature of the race for many years.
- Stage 3 (Men & Women): Vitry le Francois - Epinal This follows the same route as the mens race from Vitry. 2018 saw another change of the actual route - missing out a lot of hills!
- Stage 4 Plainfang - Ribeauville (All) This stage hasn't change much since the race first finished in Ribeauville. Slight deviation in 2019.
The organisers do tweak the route every year for safety reasons - 20 plus camper vans on small roads can be difficult to manage!