Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Leiden (Half) Marathon

In late May I ran my first half marathon.  I don't know if it will be my last, but I do know that it will be a while until I do another one.  21 km or 13 miles.  2 hours (plus some).   It's like running from Hillsdale to Port Byron and then back to the farm (granted, there weren't any hills)   It was a lot of running.  

I was very happy to finish, but perhaps not as happy as the gentleman to my left.  

It was all part of the Leiden Marathon event.  They run the full and half marathon together in the morning.  After about 10 km there is a Y in the road.  The half marathoners go left and the full marathoners go right.  You can be sure that I was paying attention to that sign.  In the afternoon, they hold a 5k and 10k run.  All together there were over 10,000 runners.  The entire event was well organized and the townspeople really came out to support us.

I was part of a group from my office that did the 21 km run.  Obviously this photo was taken prior to the run

This was our competition.  Guess who won.  

Whenever you run for 2 hours with several thousand people some interesting things happen.  This day was no exception.  An example was the pre-race buffet.  They provided bananas, oranges and sandwiches.  Unbelievably some people actually ate a cheese or meat sandwich within an hour of the run.  I did see a few people barfing during the run, but I didn't ask if they had eaten a sandwich beforehand.  One poor guy didn't see an approaching temporary fence that was parallel to the route.  He ran right into the end of it.  Ooopf!  He simply bounced off and kept going.  It had to hurt.  Another man was holding his cell phone up and taking a movie of himself running through the country-side.  I hope that he had the anti-bounce turned on his camera.

The Leiden Running Club had several "pacers".    These folks ran with a ballon tied to their waist.  The balloon indicated the time they would run so you could follow them to meet your target.   If you look closely, this person will run the 21 km in 1hr 45 minutes.  Needless to say, I never saw that balloon during the race.  
There was a wide variety in the amount of clothing worn by runners.  Race time temperatures were in the 50's so I had on long pants, a winter running shirt and a windbreaker.  And it felt good to have all that on.  Some of my colleagues (and many other runners) had on only shorts and t-shirts.  I only took my windbreaker off at the end so the camera could recognize my race number for the pictures.
Here we are all queued up for the start. 

Leiden's a beautiful city to run through  
We ran through 3 or 4 small towns and they all had their "town brass band" out playing for us.  These bands are a Dutch tradition -- almost all towns have one.  It was very nice.  At one point our route had to cross a canal, but there was not permanent bridge.  No problem, the Dutch army had built a pontoon bridge for us to cross.   In a run like this, everyone is given a number to pin to their chest for record keeping.  For this event, the paper also had your first name on it.  As you approached the finish line, there was an announcer who would shout encouragement and announce people.  At least I think he was shouting encouragement ---  it was in Dutch so to me it was blah blah blah Mark blah blah blah.

Members of the Leiden (American) football team led the pack to start the run.  I have no idea why.    

Someone eating the sandwiches.  It looks like it is after his race. 

The Marathon is a nice party for the town of Leiden. 

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