An Urban Oasis and Runners' Paradise
When I exited there was less than a minute until the official start of the first group (sub 1:30). The approximately 6000 starters were divided into four groups and to my horror I discovered I had walked straight into the back of group #4 - first timers and those with a predicted time greater than 2 hours. With my target of sub 1:45 and a race plan not to do any of my patented zigzagging in the early stages I sought to improve my positioning. I started by worming my way forward. At this point the first group had already left and I wasn't getting anywhere so I took drastic action. I used a break in the barriers to get to the outside in order to at least move forward into Group 3 (1:45-2:00). I could see the sign for Group 3 but could not see a break in the barriers that would get me back in. I had visions of having to jump the fence but just in the nick of time I spotted a break near the rear of Group 3. Rather than push my luck I entered the chute there and went to my race Plan B: Zigzagging through the crowd. We were off roughly 10 minutes after the "gun" (there was no gun).
I had had visions of taking in the experience and admiring the scenery but with the cobblestone streets, narrow first stages and me on a mission to work my way through the large crowd of slower runners I was focussed only on the space in front of me. Truth be told that is my natural racing attitude so it all felt quite familiar.
In North America we love our schwag tech t-shirts as a race souvenir. In Germany they have a different purpose. Say a parent and the kids want to come out and cheer on mum or dad for their race. It has all been made very simple. They just have to look out for the athlete in the orange shirt. The same one 13,344 other athletes are wearing! And it's not just a fashion statement. If you're not wearing the shirt you don't get in the start chute or the post race area. Different strokes for different volks. So much for representing Triple Threat with my tri-top.
I passed a shedload of people for the first 12k. Wasn't making a lot of friends with some of my passes but those few folks ought to try an open water swim. And what is is it about people with headphones! Wear them in training at your risk. Where them in a race, ignore people coming up faster from behind you and expect to be "moved". At least I stayed anonymous in my orange shirt. Interesting that the 1:55 and slower people all had them on. Up near 1:45 and faster pace, almost no one. Please consider that a speed tip. After 12k I was still passing a lot of people but by then I would occasionally get passed. And I would still find myself boxed in until 18k or so.
OK, water stations. I\ve been doing this long enough that I know I want water in a race every 15 minutes. More is better, especially on a hot day. When I looked at the course map I saw 3 water stations for the Half. Call it one every 40 minutes or so. I think that's bordering dangerous territory. And they are not well set up. Just paper cups being filled by two guys and placed on quite a short table. Some empty, some still full. Imagine playing the shell game while trying to run past at a 5min/k pace and dodging other people. I guess we're spoiled in North America as I didn't hear any complaints.
Final result was an official chip time of 1:41:51 and a gun time of 1:52. 929th overall and 25/214 in my age category. Plenty of very fit Germans. Interestingly I wasn't even first Canadian, only second out of 6. I'm normally quite tough on myself with race results but I reminded myself that 8 months ago I was riding in the back of an ambulance with 8 broken ribs,and a fractured scapula and clavicle. So I'm pretty happy with the result and extremely positive about the experience.
|Post Race Area -|
Dress Code Strictly Enforced
Thanks for reading,