How to get a Medical Certificate for an international race

As you may know, I’m signed up for the Annecy Half Marathon in April and I have been training hard for it. However there was one potential stumbling block. French races require a medical certificate signed by your GP to confirm that you’re fit enough to run the race.

I mean, that’s rubbish, isn’t it. Our hard-working GPs do NOT need hobby-joggers queueing up at reception to get signed approval to run half-marathons. They are busy people. In addition, it puts them in a horrible position – if anything DID go wrong, and they’d gaily signed us off to run, they’d be horribly liable for legal action. And what’s more…we’re all grown-ups, we can make our own decisions and take our own risks.

See? I ran up Tam and didn’t die! My choice, my risk!


But whatever! I printed off certificates for my husband and I. I translated the document so the poor doctor would know what he was signing and I dropped them at reception. And then I got a phone call the next day. Nope. Our medical practice has a blanket policy NOT to sign these certificates.

I was a little concerned. The flights are booked. The Airbnb is booked. My long runs are up to 15 miles. I have dreams, people!

So I did some crowd-sourcing. I spoke to people in my running club, I spoke to my coach and I put a post on a local running Facebook group I’m part of and I got some solid suggestions.

In the hope that this might be useful…this is what you can do to get those pesky certificates signed.

Try your GP first

I’d say about 50% of people I spoke to had no issues with their GP. Some doctors insisted on a basic medical test. Most of them charged for the certificate (generally about 20 quid). So start there.

Fake it

Several (unnamed) people told me they’d just faked theirs. They got a stamp made up via eBay for a fake medical centre and signed and stamped it themselves. I can’t deny this was horribly tempting. But I’m trying to teach my son that the right way to handle a problem isn’t always the easy way but it’s important to be honest, so DARN IT, I HAD TO WALK THE WALK!

parkrun batemans bay oz me dude


There was one story online of a guy who got to a French race (not Annecy) without a signed certificate and basically begged/yelled until the organizer shrugged and handed over the bib. This sounded a) obnoxious and b) horribly stressful so I was keen to avoid this route.

CycloSport Medical Certificates

This was the route I ended up going, thanks to a couple of recommendations. This company organise trip to various sporting events round the world but they have a Medical Certificate business which issues medical certificates for all events. It’s not cheap, it’s £65 per certificate, but it was otherwise painless. Here’s the link.

(Not an affiliate, I’m making no money). 

I filled in a thorough online questionnaire asking about my health, medication, family history, my running history and my training. I have a heart condition and I filled it in honestly and frankly. I expected some issues as a result of the information I gave. Despite the fact that my condition is stable and well-managed, that I don’t take any medication and that I run the 13 mile distance pretty much weekly,  I expected additional questions at the very least and half-expected a refusal to issue a certificate.  I would have understood! However less than 24 hours after I put in my request and paid my money, the certificate arrived in my inbox.

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

So there you go. If you want to run (honestly) in a French race, this is my best recommendation on how to get round the Medical Certificate problem!

Bonne chance!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. ErinAMG says:

    This is really fascinating. What’s the back story? Why do (all?) French races require it? Is the course you’re running especially challenging (elevation, altitude, weather…?). I have never heard of this before!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I believe it’s common for races in Italy, France and Spain but don’t know if it’s all of them. I know the Paris Marathon definitely requires one. It’s enough to put me off racing in France again, got to be honest.
      Annecy should be fine. It’s at 1000 ft (I live at about 500 ft), it’s flat and lakeside…should be basically like running the Bay Trail but a little higher up.

  2. Angela says:

    Arrrgh, how annoying! Glad you were able to taken that care of relatively easily!

  3. Michaela says:

    Wow! I had no idea this was a thing, and Layla and I have been thinking about running the Marathon du Medoc at some point. Good to know!

    1. Cathryn says:

      It was very simple via that agency so don’t let it put you off.

  4. Amy says:

    This is really helpful! I’ve looked into the Medoc Marathon and I’ve always wondered about the certificate requirement. I feel like American doctors would be more willing to sign off on something like that, but good to know that there are options. Hope you are doing well!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I entirely agree that American doctors would be happier to sign this. I REALLY missed Kaiser during this whole kerfuffle, I know my Kaiser GP would have done it happily. One of the perks of private medicine, eh?

  5. Jen says:

    Filing this away for future reference, but it does really put me off from French races! (Not that I was planning on any…haha)

    1. Cathryn says:

      The option I eventually used made it pretty simple but $100 is a lot of extra dosh!

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