I first found out about this marathon when I participated in the Nacht van West-Vlaanderen (Night of Flanders) 100K walk in 2015. I did the 50K walk last year so for this year, I decided to do the 42K run.
We drove 114 kilometers (about an hour on the Belgian freeway with the 120K speed limit) immediately after work on June 16, 2017. We arrived in Torhout with time to rest and get ready for the race at 8:00 PM.
The hub for all race distances was located in an industrial hall of this Dutch-speaking city east of Brussels (Industrielaan 2, 8820 Torhout). We waited for a few minutes before the bib pick-up started at 5:30 PM. There were very few athletes at this time. No doubt resting to make their personal bests (PBs)!
We made our way to Hotel Roodhof in Oostkamp, a 17-minute drive from the starting line. The converted dairy farm was built in 1888 and located in a quiet countryside. The room was basic but the employees were very nice.
I had time to slowly get ready and eat an omelet at the restaurant before it was time to go back. The hotel was near but we did not anticipate the traffic jam; the road was full of cars heading to the starting line. I started to worry that I will miss the gun start. I forgot that the 100K walk and the 42K run started at the same time! Richard let me off as close as he could and I made it to the race start with two minutes to spare!
The marathon and the half-marathon started at the same time. The first 21K was a loop followed by three smaller loops of 7K each. We were mostly on the trails and the residential area. I was stressed out from almost missing the race that I resolved to just enjoy the race and did not stop to take photos. The race had a time limit of 5 hours and 30 minutes.
It was past 1:00 AM when I crossed the finish line, tired but happy with another marathon medal. The finish line was in the city center in front of the church, just a few meters away from the industrial hall where I picked up my finisher’s shirt.
Details for next year’s race can be found here.