It was a Wednesday afternoon when I heard that my presence in Amsterdam was requested for the following Monday. Last-minute travel is always a panicked affair, but I still tried to see if I could find a marathon to run. As luck would have it, the Amsterdam Marathon was on the weekend I was in town, but as luck wouldn’t have it, they had closed their entries several weeks beforehand.
Undeterred I sent an imploring email to the contacts listed on the website, politely requesting a last-minute entry. As this is a ‘big city’ race with thousands of competitors, my expectation for a positive response (or any response at all) was not high. It was therefore a very pleasant surprise when I received a reply just over an hour later, stating that if I was willing to part with 69 Euros, then a marathon entry was mine.
A year after the Dutch summer sun beat me up, I was back in Amsterdam to speak at a conference. To satisfy my insatiable hunger for marathons, I was faced with a repeat visit to Leiden or a 150km drive to the extreme north of the Netherlands. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me… so the saying goes. I wasn’t going to chance another midday massacre in the middle of summer and therefore decided to head north to Leeuwarden, with just over 100,000 residents the largest city in the province of Friesland.
It is often very entertaining to read the English section of foreign marathon websites, which tend to be full of unintentionally funny translations. The Leeuwarden Marathon avoided this problem by having no English section. Google translate had not yet been invented, so this tested the limits of my rudimentary Afrikaans taal skills, as I had to translate what appeared to be Dutch text.
I managed to figure out the important details – like the race date and start time – and also that this was a pre-entry only race, and I had missed the deadline. I wrote a passionate, imploring letter to the organisers in my best Afrikaans to plead for a late entry, and a reply came back a short while later in English to say they would accommodate my petition.
If you ever want to run at marathon in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of summer in the middle of a heat wave, then the Leiden Marathon in South Holland is the one to do. European summers can be something of an oxymoron, but the organisers managed to time the 2006 edition of the race to be run in the middle of a genuine heat wave. Fifteen years later and I can still vividly remember the four-and-a-bit hours I spent slogging it out in the sweltering mid-30s, and this is still the hottest of the 241 marathons I’ve run (to date), even beating out the Two Countries Marathon in Musina for the honour!
Copenhagen is located on the island of Sealand and is the largest city in Scandinavia, and it was the venue for my coming of age (21st) international marathon. That’s not a bad achievement just under three years after completing my first foreign race in Prague, especially considering that only two of the 21 were planned more than a few weeks in advance. (Ah, the joys of last-minute work travel.) Continue reading “Kobenhaven Marathon, Denmark (Marathoning with Mermaids)”
(Marathon #67 / International Marathon #13 / 2 March 2008)
My standard process for entering US marathons involves looking at marathonguide.com’s calendar and figuring out (a) which marathons are still open for entry and (b) can be reached fairly easily with a flight re-routing. For this trip to the US, I had to do the marathon planning whilst on holiday in Japan, so I did my best navigating of the web that I could on a Japanese keyboard. I managed to get onto the marathonguide site and found the Little Rock Marathon, and saw that I could still enter and easily route my flights via “Little Rock, AR.”
Not being completely up to speed on American postal codes and state acronyms, I thought AR meant Arizona, so there I was thinking this would mean running in what I assumed would be distinctive desert terrain. I had never run in Arizona before and was really looking forward to the experience, and it therefore came as a bit of a shock to me when the pilot announced our imminent arrival in Little Rock, Arkansas! Continue reading “Little Rock Marathon, Arkansas, USA (A Little ‘Lost’ in the USA)”
[Marathon #195 / Unique Marathon #107 / 7 October 2018]
I’ve been trying to get more proactive about running marathons in neighbouring countries. One of the countries I have been scouting is the small, landlocked, mountain kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) and my investigations uncovered the Imbube Marathon. Run on the first Sunday in October, this proved the perfect opportunity to notch one more country onto the marathon list.
In Eswatini, everything revolves around the king – and the marathon is no different. The word ‘Imbube’ means ‘King’ in the local siSwati tongue and the event is personally signed off by King Mswati III himself.
[MARATHON #189 / UNIQUE MARATHON #103 / 13 May 2018]
With the South African marathon running scene on Comrades hiatus from 1 May until the end of July, I had to look further afield to find a marathon to keep my “marathon-a-week” training program going. Luckily one of our sub-Saharan neighbours obliged with the Diacore Gaborone Marathon on 13 May.
[MARATHON #167 / UNIQUE MARATHON #85 / 7 OCTOBER 2017]
In my opinion, the best way to get a good night’s sleep on a long-haul transatlantic flight is to run a marathon: A marathon (combined with a few “nightcap” beers) is the perfect recipe for a blissful flight!
The first challenge was a logistical one – find a marathon close enough to my hotel in central London to get there, run, get back, shower and make my flight (plus have enough time to rehydrate with a beer or two before boarding).
[marathon #166 / unique marathon #84 / 1 October 2017]
The best thing about work travel is hunting down obscure marathons to run. A short trip to London and the hunt was on… After whittling down the options, Clarendon Marathon was selected as the potential prey to be conquered.