It was still dark at 6:30 AM when Richard and I got into our car to drive from our house in Belgium to the starting line of the 14.LLG Kevelaer Marathon 2016 in Kevelaer, Germany. Kevelaer is right by the border of The Netherlands; the trip took two hours and 40 minutes covering a little less than 250 kilometers one way.
We arrived at the Sporthaus der DJK Twisteden a tad past 9:00 AM. There was just a short line of runners queuing to get their bibs so getting mine was a breeze. They were also selling running gear so people who forgot theirs can easily buy replacements for all things essential for a successful race: beanies, gloves, vests, jackets, chip and music holders, gels and hydration bottles. They did not sell shoes, but they did have socks available for purchase.
I haven’t done a run longer than 10 miles after the Puglia Marathon in Italy in December last year. This marathon would just be a practice run with a medal at the end and a way to maintain my endurance. This was definitely a small-town race with only 385 registered runners. Most of them belonged to the 100 Marathon Club Deutschland, the exclusive club for runners who have finished 100 or more marathons. They also looked like they’ve been hitting the road regularly. They had the long and lean look of the hardcore runners. Hmmm. . . it seemed like I will be pounding the pavement by my lonesome.
The race started at 10:15 AM, 15 minutes later than the published time. It was a nippy 7 degrees Celsius so I was completely bundled up. The route was a six-kilometer loop that we all ran seven times. Most runners do not like a route like this. It was not an issue for me; at least I got to see the same fast runners several times during the race. I did not have to rent a chip because I brought the Champion chip I used for the Berlin Marathon. They used the Mika timing systems and they timed us at the end of each loop.
Richard took some photos just as we started the race while I took the photos of the kilometer markers. The crowd of runners very quickly thinned out as the faster ones immediately took off.
There were only two aid stations at this six-kilometer loop. There was one at the beginning and another at the halfway point. They served hot tea, water, Coke, apples, bananas, and cake. Runners also had the choice to bring their own preferred nutrition and hydration. I liked this setup because that meant aid was available every three kilometers compared to bigger marathons which are spaced five kilometers apart. There were also plenty of porta potties at the start line and one at the second aid station.
The course was completely flat and paved. We ran by fields and stables, farms and houses. While not closed, the road was only open to local residents so we didn’t have to dodge cars at all. The kilometer markers were great visuals, and corners were manned by volunteers. There were a couple of roving Red Cross vehicles, available to any runner who needed help. There were only few spectators but they were nice and cheered every one on.
I was weary by the time I finished the race, but fulfilled I got another marathon done. I do need to remind myself to run during the week so that I won’t be a mess after a marathon. Richard, as always, patiently waited for me at the finish line.