Tuesday 6 January 2015


#79  Coburg Winter Marathon    Germany/Bavaria

Permanent marathon course

Starting center
I was on some family business in Germany staying in the quaint town of Erfurt that was right in the centre of Germany.  I had noticed that about 1hr south on the Sunday was to be held the 11th running of the Coburg Winter marathon. This was the first designated marathon route in Germany and is permanently marked (including Kilometers markers every 5K) Being the winter in Germany the weather was a lottery and over the years there have been some challenging conditions.

Temperatures were forecast as low as -21 during the week and there
RD briefing
had been significant snow. Fortunately it had warmed up considerably but it was still below zero and with wind chill significantly below that. The snow had stayed and indeed it was to snow through large portions of the race.

Freezing at the start
With RD Jürgen Lesch
I left Erfurt around 7am for the drive to Coburg following my trusty GPS. On the 120K journey it wound its way higher and higher and traversed some of the longest road tunnels in Germany. One was approx 9km long. As we got higher, it got colder and colder, with more and more snow. Getting close to Coburg the GPS brought me down some boreens that had been untreated and it was tough
driving but eventually we ended up at the  race start in great time.

This was a free event (I'm not quite sure why) that seemed to rely on corporate sponsorship and voluntary contributions. That said, it had changing rooms with showers, well stocked aid stations with warm drinks every 7K, an option to get a bus back to the start every 7K and a fully stocked bar and food with massages at the end. Not bad for
Good practice for NP marathon

About 195 took part in this annual event and it had long been over
Huddled together
subscribed. When I arrived I was waiting around when I was paged by the race organiser. I introduced myself and he told me the local press wanted to get an interview.

Article:  Coburg Local Press Article

I guess they were fascinated by why a small, fat middle aged guy from Ireland had travelled over for the race. The RD's daughter Svenja (who had studied in the US) did translation
for me and the interview and photos were complete. After a rousing RD briefing in which I again got a mention and a round of applause we huddled outside ready for the off.

Quick selfie
Spectacular skies
I have to say I was made feel very welcome and even during the race many people chatted to me all the way round. It was way more welcoming than any other race I have done in Europe by far.

It was freezing at the start and it had started to snow. So quickly we were off.

Fantatsic aid stations
The race route wandered in and around the byways, parks, forests and villages around Coburg. It was very hilly at around 2000ft climb. At times we were running through the quaintest of German villages that was soon followed by open tundra as well as winter wonderland vistas through snow covered forests. Conditions underfoot were snowy and icy as well as muddy in the sheltered areas. I believe conditions have been worse in the past but I cant imagine mush worse.

Up the hill at 20m
I had at the last minute packed a pair of trail runners which turned out to be good and bad. Good in that they kept my feet fairly dry and gave good grip but bad in that they were new and needed breaking in. After only 5K I felt my toes rubbing on the right foot. By 10K the left foot had joined in. I knew if I stopped that would be it so I kept going. Fortunately the cold somewhat numbed the toes and it was just bearable.  After the race and even as I write this they are not a pretty sight.

The course itself was surprisingly hilly with one particular climb at around 20 miles that was huge and crested and overlooked Coburg. This was really for me a survival event making it between aid stops and was very slow. I think this was mainly because it was my 4th in the last 2 weeks and my feet were in bits from the new shoes. It was also freezing, wet, muddy and hilly.

The Garmin wasnt great today again and I finished in just under 5hrs
Fantastic forest section
And we are done

After finishing I had a coffee and a Bratwurst and got quickly into the car to warm up. By the time I got back to Erfurt I was back to normal and enjoyed a very nice night out in the town with our German hosts.

It was a great experience. With free entry , reasonable flights and hotels it was also surprisingly affordable and I would strongly recommend it.

I've added someone elses route map for illustrative purposes

Coburg route and elevation profile

Nice Gallery of photos

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