#276 - Amsterdam Marathon Race Report

Marathon #276 Amsterdam Marathon done! 3:58:54 so am pleased with that for a post 100 mile run (my best by 15+ minutes and 4th fastest ever), odd how somewhere along the way sub 4:00 has gone from being some vague goal to a recovery run! Long version of the marathon report. 1) Ran a bit 2) Got bored weaving through other runners 3) Filled up water bottle about mile 10 4) Ran a bit more 5) Got a bit bored 6) Finished! I fear out on some mountain somewhere or on some lonely trail I've fallen very out of love with big city marathons... too many people... too much shoving... too much rubbush... oh and short version of marathon report. 1) Ran for a bit. 2) Finished! lol


We'd been looking for an overseas marathon during the half-term period to go run a race with some of the Maidstone Harriers, 2011 it was Cologne, 2012 Palma and 2013 it was the turn of Amsterdam. So soon after the long trip to the US wasn't ideal as still rather jet lagged and unable to sleep much and in truth an easy weekend might have done me better, but off we went on the 0600 ferry from Dover to Dunkirk, we'd decided to drive as live so close to the port and although over a 200 mile drive on the other side does mean an awful lot less hassle than flying, no worries about packing, liquids and all that sort of fun stuff!

First job of the day after arriving was rolling along to the expo, ah the joy of big city marathons as of course 10000 other people had the same idea and as is often the way with European cities, they're really not terribly car friendly, huge expo location, 29 parking spaces or thereabouts! Luckily someone was just pulling out as we approached them which was very handy as could have been very hard work. Expo was stunningly unexciting, bit too busy to have much of a look and as have too much gear anyway these things have long since become nothing but hassle. Did find another running belt mind you so not all bad, just the same as the one I have, which is beginning to show some signs of wear as must have been on over 200 marathons and ultras I should think by now.

That job done anyway it was find the hotel, grab some food and the first decent nights sleep for 10 days or so!


We were off maybe 2.5 hours before the marathon start to find somewhere to park, Rachel had identified a road on an industrial estate quite close and we arrived there with one or two others who had the exact same idea and within half an hour it was pretty full of runners leaving their cars, we half messed around for a little while and then wandered the 1000 yards or so to the Olympic Stadium, by chance we ran in to a couple of runners we knew so had a chat with them and then made our way to the start are inside the Stadium. With 10000 other runners all shuffling along and 1 yard an hour…

We were in the green pen which was for 4:00-4:30 runners which when we signed up was probably accurate but if I was going to have any kind of decent run I'd need to be setting off a bit quicker than that and as the start took place I noticed some runners sneaking into the pen in front, so we followed them and got in to the 3:30-4:00 area… and ten or fifteen minutes later we eventually got over the start line and off we went.

Took me about 30 yards to get frustrated as runners endlessly got in my way, stopped, swerved or were obviously far, far too forward in the pens, seriously within half a mile there are groups of three or four just walking. Weave, weave, watch your feet as you're always two feet behind someone and can't see where you're going or the line I want to be on.

I'd say it must have taken me the best part of ten miles before I eventually found enough clear space that I was happy to run in and didn't have the seemingly near constant weaving in and out. (Which no doubt contributed to a 26.50 Garmin measurement). I couldn't really find a rhythm or constant tempo and frankly just found the whole experience frustrating and annoying. I strongly suspected that before the event I wouldn't enjoy it and I was right. I was running OK, 8:20 to 8:45 type miles and feeling not too bad. Had a steady intake of Clif Shot Bloks, a few S!Caps as was rather humid and was sweating a lot. Music on, head down…

Listening to others afterwards I do wonder if I ran the same race! I seemed pretty oblivious to most things I must say, the route seemed pretty unexciting, very flat as you might expect, didn't go anywhere near down town which was a disappointment. Roads, a park, more road, another park… that sort of thing, really nothing stuck in my mind.

Filled my water bottle up at about mile 10, all was good, off I went again, unless you like bananas or oranges there was nothing else at the aid stations so didn't worry about them and just bopped along on my merry way.

Pace started to slow a little from 10 to 20 miles as I finally kind of settled in to it, half was about 1:53 I think and hadn't worked that hard for that so a reasonable second half should see me to a sub 4:00 which I'd be pleased with. Was sweating a lot, but no real struggle.

Other runners continually annoyed me. What it is with European runners and shoving? Must have had a dozen runners just (tried to!) shove me out of the way. If I can pass 1000 runners without touching them then why can't everyone do that? Does seem to be a European thing, never encountered it in the UK or US. Its just plain rude, who cares at that pace if you gain one seconds advantage?! One day I am going to start shoving back! Especially those who clip by heals… or overtake and then dive in front of you so you have to slow down! By mile 20 I was really just bored and fed up. Figured out anything sub 10:00 would see me home before 4:00 so just let legs and pace sort themselves out to achieve that.

The Olympic Stadium was supposed to be an inspiring finish, perhaps if it had just been me rather than 300 runners at the same time? Meant nothing to me and rolled in 3:58:54. Exactly what I would have hoped for, my 5 th sub 4:00 marathon and my most straightforward by far.

Nothing wrong with the marathon, I just don't see the attraction at all of sharing a running event with 15000 other runners, spent the entire time in traffic, barely ever ran more than a few hundred yards without some kind of adjustment because of other runners and just don't see the appeal. The whole exercise just seems to be a huge amount of hassle from the expo, to the having to get there hours in advance, to the crowds, just even trying to get out of the stadium, a sea of humanity… grrr!

Maybe its just having spent so long out on wild lonely trails recently, but I am absolutely off these sorts of events. I like the smaller city marathons, 1000, 2000 runners, you don't get any of the “sea of humanity” issues there, but these big ones? Really, really, really not for me any longer I think. I want to be out in the wilds, having some sense of adventure, this meant nothing to me. Don't wish to belittle marathons really, but this was just a recovery run. See how the legs were after the 100s, wasn't even speed work or a tempo run as could never get going, so just a long recovery run. In which case it was a success I suppose, feet were a bit sore, but nothing serious, might have been something in my shoe or sock, but when I noticed it at mile 12 or so, it was like, not worth stopping to check, its only 14 left till home…

Funnily enough I think these sorts of marathons were actually better when I was slower, 4:00 is very average and probably around the busiest time, roll around in 5:30 and you've got lots of space… if you're doing 2:45 I suspect you'd love it too, but for those terribly average runners like myself, mmm…..

Things I Learnt

home | about me | wise words? | race reports | contact Copyright © Traviss Willcox. All rights reserved