On starting this blog, I made a pact not to include detailed race reports – it’s just not my style.
But on reflection… I’m going to tell you about Munich Marathon back in October 2013. This was never going to be a fast-paced race for me. Coming off the back of the 230km Al Andalus Ultra Trail in July and an unbearably hot desert summer when long distance runs are impossible, I’d not penciled in a speedy time. Munich was the chance to run in cooler climes and make the most of the annual Eid Al Hada break, which sees us shutting up shop in Qatar for three days, so I offered to pace for a fellow runner.
I’m not going to lie, the start was freezing cold for us desert dwellers. Hanging on to as many layers of clothes until as late as we could, we literally huddled on the start line and were glad of the warmth from the X thousand other runners.
The gun fired and we were off. Plenty of pushing and shoving, it was a hold-your-line start for the first five km, before the pack thinned. Entering the EnglishGardens, I had to rein my compatriot back. He was clicking the kms far too quickly and needed to regulate his pace. We cruised through half way in around 1:46 and then the wheels fell off. Unfortunately my running colleague was having ITB issues and every little slope became a mountain. He really labored around the last half of the marathon. I wasn’t going to leave him though as I know what could happen; he would have stopped and he’d struggle to finish the marathon distance in future races.
And so I settled in to enjoy the sights and sounds of Munich. It’s a lovely compact city. I found the EnglishGardens route a little boring but I enjoyed the old city and ‘platz’ system of market squares.
There are a few cobbles but the route it flat and potentially quick. And yes,
it’s true, there are a few ‘unofficial’ beer stops past the halfway point, although don’t expect free gels unless you’re in the first hundred or so runners. My hubby had tasked me with collecting some freebies but the gel stops had been all cleared out and packed up by the time we rolled past.
On tootling back into the stadium, through the dry ice – yep, you read right
– I put my foot down and sprinted to the finish. It was sad that only the last 50m was track. The former Olympic stadium has lost its full 400m track, but
it was still an atmospheric finish.
Finding water wasn’t so easy in the recovery area, but there was plenty of
non-alcoholic beer, chocolate and berry-flavoured milk, plus bananas and giant pretzels.
So would I do Munich again? You bet… it’s a fast course, well-marked, there are plenty of electrolyte and water stations, and just enough crowd participation. I find wall-to-wall spectators a little oppressive.
The German championships are held there so there’s the push and pace of a city marathon, especially as the race is hot on heels of Berlin, and Munich is a great city. Expect keen competition. On striking up a conversation in a pub the day before the marathon with two fellow number-collection-bag-clutchers we were interrogated on our expectations.
“You will finish the marathon?!” The guy asked.
“Well that’s the general idea,” I replied. “I’m lacking a little on distance,” I added, explaining where we live.
“Start slowly,” he dubiously advised, looking me up and down and quite clearly doubting my abilities.
Aside from our marathon, we took a bike tour in Munich (Mike’s Bikes comes highly recommended), which was a good way to spin the legs out, ate too much bread, bought too much shopping, rode the trams, and generally had a good time.
Oh, and we survived the autumnal German weather.