Frankfurt Marathon Weekend 25th-27th Oct 2013
By Paul Cleasby
Sat in a Berlin bar after the marathon last autumn, fellows from the Runners World forums decided Frankfurt was the destination for this years October Marathon. Advertised as fast and flat it’s Germany’s second fastest marathon. In a city renowned for commercial excellence, transport was easy and hotel rooms for all budgets were in plentiful supply. There was no problem with the language as yet again out continental neighbours put us to shame with their command of the English Language.
Straight-forward flight from Teesside (yes it’s still open), changing in Amsterdam and then on to Frankfurt. 11 minute train journey into the centre and then a 10 minute walk to the hotel which was directly opposite the marathon expo and the start/finish area. Quick tour of the expo and time for some sight seeing and beer drinking.
Saturday morning saw the Pretzel Run, a 5k jog around part of the route finishing back at the Expo followed by free pretzels and apple juice. Usually these things are fantastic fun, runners often get their other halves to run this with them and there ware plenty of children who also joined their parents in a very leisurely jaunt. This one however was a little tedious. The route was torturous with many bollards and other pieces of street furniture needing avoiding as the paranoid marathon runners tried to make sure they did not do themselves an injury the day before the big event. With that in mind whichever parent allowed their little cherub to scooter amongst the thousand or so runners needs to have a word with themselves!
Marathon day itself, the wind had become much stronger, it was warm and wet, peculiar conditions that never settled. The start was crammed and the starting pens could have been better policed. Once the gun went off I was hoping the congestion would ease, it didn’t. This was compounded by a route full of twists and turns. I struggled to get up to pace from the off and it set the tone for my whole run. In the end I had to accept it was just going to be one of those days. Knee pain struck from mile 11 and I thought ‘if I pulled out now the coaches would say well done you did the right thing’ but I just couldn’t bring myself to. As it had poured down I would have been soaking wet, cold and miles away from where I needed to be so I ploughed on with the splits looking bleaker and bleaker. One advantage of running in kilometres though is that they come round a whole lot quicker than miles. Never have I been more grateful to just finish.
The finish area itself is indoors, there are cheerleaders, bands, indoor fireworks, big screens, loud music and I missed the lot of it.
For me it was probably a marathon too far, my training had been interrupted by summer holidays and had lacked the real focus of previous efforts. In marathon running there is no fooling yourself. It will find you out.
It would be wrong though to dismiss Frankfurt as a viable marathon option for the future. It’s cheaper than Berlin and there’s not the frantic scramble to sign up for places (Are you listening Brass Monkey?) as it does not sell out. Many other runners we met afterwards ran very impressive pb’s and had very positive perspectives of their runs and of Frankfurt.
In fact probably the highlight of my day was going to a traditional German bar after the race for some post race analysis and as we walked in we received loud and warm applause from the customers and staff.
Now it’s definitely time to rest and recover. As for an Autumn marathon in 2014 the canvass is blank…..