This is a blog from the middle of the pack and will detail races from my point of view. i.e. a very average runner.
Monday, 20 October 2014
Marathon #71 Amsterdam 4:28:24
Ready to go
It is the World Broadband Forum time in Amsterdam and I had managed again to blag a speaking gig which much helps in financing a running trip. Unlike last year I was injury free so was up for this marathon. Unlike previous years this was also my 39th marathon or longer in the last 12 months and as a direct result I have slowed significantly but that is just the way. It was also my 7th weekend in a row running. I was really looking forward to this one as I have had an office in Amsterdam for the last 10 years and been there every few months for a long time. I love the city and its parks and canals and culture. This would be my 3rd Gold label IIAF standard race this year. This status is only granted to a maximum of 30 races globally a year. Surely this would be a good one.
finding my way at the expo
It was an early start on a 6am flight out of Dublin. At the airport I ran into Bob Manson from Crusaders who was doing the first of three big city marathons on consecutive weekends in Amsterdam, Dublin and New York. This all in preparation for the MDS next year. Bob is a great runner so I knew he would do well. Everything was on time. I was staying at an airport hotel so decided to see if I could offload my baggage early before going and registering for the race. Luckily they had some spare rooms and were able to check me in immediately at 8am (result). 3 hours later I woke up.
I knew Amsterdam pretty well (particularly its transport system) and headed off. The Olympic Stadium was walkable distance from Amsterdam Zuid or you could change to the Metro and get marginally closer via one of its stations. 20 minutes later I was there. The exhibition was a lot smaller than I expected and I quickly picked up my bib and Tee. Recently I ran out of gels so would wait and pick some up at the expo. I was shocked to find that only clothing and shoes and limited accessories were on sale. No gels or anything like that. So I would have to run tomorrow with no gels, something I wasn't that comfortable with.
Busy in Dam Sq
I headed into town for a while. There was the normal autumnal fun fare in Dam Square and there was a huge dance festival on in town which made it absolutely packed. It was a beautiful day and one of those balmy European evenings. A very pleasant day all together. It was off to bed early.
The race started at 9:30 and I had arranged to meet some people at 8:30 at the bib 10000
Some familiar faces
baggage drop. I was shocked to find when I got there that this concept didn't exist and it was a matter of randomly walking up and down hoping to bump into people. Luckily I happened to run into Lucy Foley who was running her 99th marathon. We also met some of the Fil-Irish (Namely Mike Gonda). More of Mike later. The toilet situation was disgraceful with not even close to enough toilets. I had to wait
Ultimate relaxation from the FIl-Irish
till on the course in my own time (not good). I took a quick look inside the stands of the stadium. More of the Fil-Irish were caught asleep inside, relaxing before the start (nice to see you Celso and friends). I then entered the main stadium ready for the start. It was spectacular in the stadium but it really was bedlam with toilets again being a big issue.
We were off. The start was great with 200m on the track before exiting onto the streets. The next 41km were not great. Unfortunately the course designers didn't bring the route
In the Stadium
into old Amsterdam at all, and we only skirted the canals for a few km. The race seemed to be very out and back with us passing each other quite a few times en-route. There were also a lot of tram tracks to avoid and I seen a few miss their footing. The only landmark of note that we came across was the Rijksmeseum tunnel which was cool.
From about 12K to 25K we were taken along an out and back on the Amstel river. I know that we passed by some beautiful parks on this route but didn't see them. For example we ran along the outside of the fantastic Amstel Park with its many many public sculptures and its famous "midget golf" course. That would have been more interesting.
The weather though forecast hot was actually OK with a reasonable breeze around.
The rest of the route pretty much retraced our way back to the stadium. Gels for me became a problem from half way. AA gels were
Tok Tok time
given out at 30K and 38K (which was a waste of time). These did however help, and my last 5K was my fastest.I met Mike Gonda again at the 40km mark. He was running strong and we had a quick chat and even got a shaky photo in.
And we are home
As far as my run went it was pretty uneventful. I had a "technical break" during the first 5K and a very very slow first half of the marathon coming through in 2:08 (well down on recent runs). But I came back stronger in the second half. I was very vigilant of sponsored runners in sponge suits. But as the marathon was sponsored by a consultancy firm I guess they havn't invented a fancy dress running outfit for a tosser yet so I was safe.
The marathon really only came to life as we entered the Stadium again for the finish. It was special and I came in with my fastest last 2Km to finish in 4:28:24. Pretty slow really. I am definitely taking a week off after Dublin next weekend.
Overall apart from the start and the finish I was disappointed overall with this marathon. It didn't live up to the Gold Label status and the route did not show off Amsterdam as much as it should. It was still relatively affordable and easy to get into and flights and accommodation was reasonable. But not for me again.
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