It’s marathon season. You need not look any further than your Facebook feed for proof of that. Seeing several of my friends post photos of themselves or their friends basking in their own marathon or half-marathon completions made me wish that I had gone through with one this year. I came close, actually. Back in the spring when I was starting to log some decent mileage, Katie and I found out about the Munich Marathon and thought it would be perfect. But the reality of our travel schedule (and visitors) eventually made me think I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to training. (And there’s nothing worse than running a marathon without the right training.)
But I digress …. The point of this post is to show a few pictures from today’s Munich Marathon that Katie and I, while not official participants, decided to check out as fans. The weather and course could not have been more ideal for long distance runners. The Munich course is very flat and takes runners through the picturesque English Gardens, the famous Marienplatz and ends by passing through Olympic Park. Coupled with a runner-friendly 55-degree day — a perfect Autumn day, if you ask us — it probably made for an ideal marathon. I mean, if you’re going to run 26+ miles, you might as well do it on a flat course with cool temperatures.
All runners — for the full marathon, the half marathon and the 10K — finished in the Olympic Stadium with their final 400 meters taking place around the same track that once hosted the finale of the Olympic marathon.
Katie and I shared a brat and radler (half beer, half lemonade) and sat in the sun-soaked stands as we watched the three-hour finishers (the race started at 10 a.m. and we got there around 1 p.m.). We stayed for an hour in order to see the finishers of the half-marathon. That race began at 1 p.m. and the winner sprinted by — darting in and out of marathon finishers — at about 2:10 p.m. So the runner was going at a pace just over five minutes per mile. Not too bad.
One moment that stuck out for both of us was seeing a man stumble with about 200 meters to go. He had to be helped to the sideline by his three co-runners. As he was in the process of being laid down on the ground, the female runner he was with quickly — without missing a beat — unsnapped the time chips from the shoes of her friends and went on to finish the race while her two friends tended to the fallen runner. This meant that the three runners who didn’t technically cross the finish line would still have a registered finishing time — and that all four of their times would be equal. About 10 minutes after this happened we watched as the woman returned with three medals — one for each of her friends. It was a cool thing to see.
You know what else was cool to see? All of the marathon finishers with pretzels and weiss beer. That made me wish even more that I had run the race.
There was one other thing that stood out today. Later on, after we left Olympic Park, I biked into the Marienplatz to meet a friend of mine for a beer who recently moved to Munich. I rode down the traffic-free Leopoldstrasse because it was still blocked off for the race. But the only runners I saw were the back-of-the-pack few who were struggling to finish the race. The crowds were more or less gone and in the distance you could see big trucks beginning to pick up the street dividers. But here these runners were, still chugging along, determined to meet their goal of a completed race. I found myself shouting words of encouragement, knowing that the path ahead of them likely seemed uphill and long. I admired their strength and determination. It reminded me that most runners in these races run them to finish them. Their race time isn’t as important as crossing that finish line.
I hope all of the runners from today’s race feel proud of what they accomplished. And if nothing else, I think they’ve officially convinced me to give marathon #3 a go next year!