Monday, 10 November 2014

Zeiler Waldmarathon

The year was 1987 and i was running the "Scottish City Link" Glasgow Marathon at the age of 21, i had just finished in sub 4 hours, in those days i did not train properly, i was not in a club so it was basically an attitude of you will be fine, i remember  saying to myself as i waited at the bus stop (did not drive either) that i did not enjoy that and would never go back until i was a vet, at that time age 40 Cat, 40 came and went and before i knew it i would be 6 months from turning 50, how time flys, anyway i had been lured by the prospect of running a forest Marathon in Bavaria by my friend Sam Green, this was appealing as i have enjoyed the last 4 years running up and down some of the many trail runs in Scotland

It was thursday 6th November and i was sitting at my desk when i got the text message from Sam to say that the airline where advising to seek alternative routes on to your final destination on arrival at Munich due to the Deutsche Bhan (railway) who had just organised a 4 day strike, i can tell you it didn't half deflate me, i was so up for spending time running a forrest marathon, upon getting home it seemed as the day went on there was still signs of limited rail travel within the country so we made the decision still to be there, but we were unsure what to expect upon arrival.

The flight took off of time and we arrived just over a few hours later in Munich, the airport train arrived within minutes all was looking good and before we knew it we were in the main station, still needing a further 3 trains though, next we boarded the Nuremberg train, a longer journey but we were getting closer and could get some sleep, before we knew it we were on train three for Bamberg, we were in the station for 10 minutes before the announcement came that the train was cancelled due to industrial action, we made our way out and eventually got a taxi to Ziel Am Main, 50 euros lighter but at least we had arrived at our hotel.

After 12 hours on the go we went straight over to register,  the organisers were amazing we even had a beer with them, we tried to get an early kip but it is hard when your on the go all day and you mind does not want to shut down, thinking about the race,  i think it was about 02:30am before i nodded off then suddenly it was 7:30 time to prepare for the race, with breakfast out the way we headed to the start, the organisers lay on shuttle busses to take you back and forth from all the events taking place.

Course Profile
I immediately went for a jog up the first climb for around 800 mtrs and it was still climbing, so i about turned and headed back to the start line, we were all called forward just then Sam tells me the guy behind me won the event last year and one to my right is also a regular on the podium just then the countdown began and we were off, as we started to climb towards the first km, Adam Zahoran who is unknown to us running in the Red vest from local club Bamberg went to the front, i sat in behind as we continued to climb up for just over 2 kms, still no idea how close the other two runners are behind me, the forest path then opens out on to a dust path before descending slightly to 3 kms, where there is a section of grassy field section, this lasts for about 200 mtrs before turning left back on to the forest trail again which continues to climb up and down until 13.5 kms where you run on the road for 1 km, at this point i could not see Adam as i believed he had opened up a considerable gap on me and as i looked back up the hill, i could not see the third person either, i continued along knowing that i was 4 kms from the half way point, the course continued to twist and turn, i could now see half marathon runners, and nordic walkers from the 7.5 and 21 km events.

As i approached the 21 kms point i saw my time, it was 1:22:20, i knew that it was unlikely i could sustain this for a second time around the course, as i hit the 2nd km again i was starting to struggle and i still has 19 kms of course to go, i just kept working away on my own until i started to pull in the back markers for the half marathon, this in some way gave me a short boost but my legs were worse for wear on the hills so this meant a short walk up the climbs at around 32 kms, just then i was passed on the hill and had moved in to 3rd place, i just starting to wonder where and when i may get caught
with the next runner, i kept working away, trying to use the half marathoners as my focus to get me to the last feed station which is at 38kms from here there is a slight undulation but also the great downhill stretch back the the finish, as i came around the bend i could see the split in the path, i knew i had done enough to secure the third spot in 2:57:17, i waited for my Sam to cross the line but as it had passed the 3:30 mark i knew something had happened eventually i saw him come down to cross the finish line in 3:48:03 to tell me that he ran injured, the whole of the second half.

We headed back for the bus so we could get changed for the prize giving that takes place in the local school, i got talking to Adam Zahoran, the winner who had told us that he took a wrong turning somewhere in the forest but managed to get back on tack, not sure where he re emerged as apparently a local photographer who took the photograph above said that at 25 kms, i was in the lead. The organiser had advised Sam in advance that something was planned for the day  (hence the reason he had to finish) this left Sam wondering, the mystery was soon revealed during the Marathon awards when Hubert changed in to a kilt and had a piper booked who played on stage for around 10 minutes a very fitting end to what can only be described as my best marathon experience ever, maybe i wont wait another 27 years.

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