Running a Race in France – Why You Must Have A Medical Certificate.

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When I was getting ready to run the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, I learned something really, really important. While I’m used to turning up to race registration with all manner of bits of signed bits of paper, photo ID and other bits, I’d never been asked for this before but is so important, I thought it deserved a blog post all to itself.

Image: Camhi

If you want to compete in a race in France – yes even one where you’re planning on pootling around taking pictures of Mickey Mouse – you HAVE to have a medical certificate signed by your doctor saying you are fit enough to take part in the run.

No certificate, no bib – no bib, means you just wasted a heck of a lot of money on plane fares and race entry.

I’m sure RunDisney will flag this up heavily (it is already mentioned in passing now in lots of places on the website, but if you didn’t read everything properly you could still not realise that it’s mandatory rather than optional), but as there’s a lot of stories of people arriving at huge events like the Paris Marathon not knowing that they need this magic bit of paper I figure the more places it mentioned the better.

There isn’t an official certificate you get, instead, you print out a template which you then take to your doctor who must sign it and stamp it in the surgery.

Exactly when it has to be done varies from race to race but as of today, Disney is saying the certificate must have been done within a year of race day. It’s important to check your race T&Cs so you get it done at the right time.

I don’t think I’d go a year in advance, but nor would I leave it to the last minute – maybe go a few month’s before the run just in case your doc wants more proof that all is good with your health/training.

A bit of googling reveals there is currently a template on the Run Disney website which you can print out and use – but, as things are changing so much on that site right now, I’d wait until entry day so that you know it’s completely accurate and confirmed as the one they will accept – but good to know they are providing one as the wording does have to be quite specific.

Normally a doctor will charge a fee for signing such certificate – yes, even here in the UK with the NHS – and it seems to cost about £20 to do it.

I have however heard about people being quoted £200 (check out Charlie from the Runner Beans’ story here) and told that they need to visit a private doctor to do it. This is another very good reason why you shouldn’t leave it to the last minute – you might need to shop around a bit. 

If you really get stuck, this site specifically provides certificates for runners taking part in international events – although it’s a bit more than £20 – but also a lot less than £200. 

Oh, and this isn’t clear on the Disney site right now – so hopefully they’ll clarify it – but from what I’ve read re French requirements for taking part in sport, it may not just be the half marathon you need one for –  anyone running just the 5k or kids races might also need one. BTW: some athletics association runners may not need the certificate as they are already verified as part of various affiliations – but do check.

France isn’t the only country that requires a medical certificate – Italy does, Moscow marathon does, The Bull Runner race in the Philipines does and the Marathon des Sables requires both a bit of a paper and an ECG (though that makes sense). If you know of any other events that need one pop them in the comments as you could be helping someone out.


Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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