Every year in October, Béziers is invaded by thousands of sporties during the Béziers Urban Trail. This yearly event first started in 2019, and the 2023 fourth edition attracted over 5,000 participants. Of which mostly women (56%, just saying). There were three running trails: 9, 15 and 22 kilometres, and one walking trail of 8 kilometres. Whichever course you did, you could be sure it would be full of surprises. And stairs, a lot of stairs…
Following Nîmes Urban Trail and the Veni Vici (to name a few), the Occitan region has another cool course in the lineup. Since 2019, Béziers also has its Urban Trail. To enter, you simply have to subscribe online (starting at 24 euros per person), which you can do a couple of months prior to the trail. Everyone above the age of 7 (the hike), 15 (the 9k run), 16 (the 15k run) or 18 years old (the 22k run) can join. However, you do need a certain level of fitness as the courses will lead you up and down (literally and figuratively) town. And the runs obviously require training. Once you have subscribed, including a medical certificate if you’re not part of an athletic club, you can pick up your ‘dossard’ (jersey number) the day before the race, check the route and departing time, and you’re good to go!
On my first Béziers Urban Trail, I did the walk with a couple of friends. It was good fun, and this year another friend and I decided to join for the smallest run. The organisation knows how to build up the tension via its socials and emails and asked to come in disguise. So that’s what we did, including tattoos, a Mexican Day of the Dead mask and a headpiece. Showing up in full regalia, we had a ‘Bridget Jones’ moment, as hardly anyone on the 9k went along with the disguise request… Every course has its own starting time and they all leave in waves to avoid too big a crowd in one go. The ambience was great from the start at Les Allées Paul Riquet, with cheering and music. The crowd warmer dared us to wear our masks the whole race and called us seriously crazy. Bet taken…
And then the race began. As soon as we started running, I got rid of my jitters and just followed the crowd. All the courses show you a different side of Béziers and take you from the labyrinth of little streets to the outskirts. We even ran through some of the town’s well-known buildings like the school Pic La Salle, Lycée Henry IV, and the Saint-Aphrodise church (including Saint-Aphrodise himself, with his decapitated head in his hands, just like the legend). Volunteers and bright orange signs showed us the way while a cheering crowd and live music animated parts of the track. It helped lift our spirits, although the many stairs remained challenging… Running over the Pont Vieux with the famous view of Béziers was glorious, even though we had to go up the passageway to reach the cathedral.
By this time, we were over halfway, and some fun surprises still awaited us. Like the cheerful brass band ‘Banda Mescladis’ at the cathedral and the street organ of La Boîte à Musique in the historic house of Les Ostals. Of course, Les Halles and the Townhall were part of the game, and so were the bar Beer District and many others I’ve forgotten. Even locals get to see another side of town, and the streets buzzed with vitality. With the finish in sight, we had to take one last set of stairs (downwards, thank goodness) before reaching the Place Jean Jaurès. Although there was no time limit, my friend and I managed to finish within the first… thousand. And yes, we had kept our masks on during the race! Boosted with energy, we have already started planning for next year’s edition of Béziers Urban Trial. Are you coming too?