From Campus to 21K at HEC Paris

The swathes of gorgeous forest that the HEC campus boasts of have always seemed, at first glance, somewhat mysterious to incoming students. Yet these wooded roads, which are populated by deer who make fleeting blink-and-you-miss-’em cameos, are the perfect place to release your inner runner.

Nitin in the semi marathon

The campus has three marked running trails of 3 km, 6 km and 7.5 km. For inveterate runners like myself, every warm-weather day brings the temptation to sprint away from my MBA homework and take on the challenge of the daunting slopes leading up from the lake. The longest trail winds through the woods to the rugby and football pitches that our talented athletes use in preparation for their medal-winning heroics at the annual MBA Tournament.

Every run at HEC is just a bit different. Some of my runs across these 340 acres have been accompanied by the chimes of Jouy’s church bells; during others I’ve watched France’s famed fighter planes trace out beautiful grey lines while conducting exercises in the clear blue skies overhead. Our beloved flock of ducks and swans are forever in attendance motivating me from the sidelines, meticulously pedaling away in the lake. Once, when I was especially lucky, a rainbow leaned down over HEC’s Chateau.

It was my exposure to these facilities that encouraged me to join some of my MBA cohort (and 40,000 Parisians) in running the 21 km Fitbit Semi De Paris, despite the fact that my last half marathon had been 8 years before.

The HEC Paris campus features forested running trails

HEC campus features forested running trails

As I set out on the big day, the ratio of runners to tourists in our train compartment seemed to increase with every passing station. By the time our group of HEC Paris MBA students arrived at Vincennes, the stream of passengers from my train had joined a veritable sea of half-marathoners heading straight for the starting line.

The route followed the Seine into Paris, weaved its way to Notre Dame, then went back along the river towards the Chateau De Vincennes. The day was wet and dull, and while this made the run less tiring, we would all doubtless have preferred to bask in some sunshine at the finish line.

While representing the HEC Paris MBA in our natty blue running gear was fulfilling, the most memorable part for me was the opportunity to run through Paris without being greeted by the usual bustling crowds.

We learned later that Professor Henrotte, our finance instructor, had not only run in the elite category, but had also put in an extraordinary timing, after which he proceeded to sprint without a moment of rest from the finish line to the metro station, annoyed by the day’s inclement weather!

Text by Nitin Antony Thomas

Nitin Antony Thomas (MBA ’18) spent five years working in audit and risk at Deloitte in Bombay, India, before starting his coursework at the HEC Paris MBA. As a member of the January 2017 MBA intake, he has served as the Vice President of Events for the Finance Club, and has helped organize the MBA Tournament as its Director of Finance. Along with running, Nitin loves to write.