While in Germany on holiday, Murdo Macleod took the opportunity to take part in this local event. A small city marathon, very friendly and well organized. The weather on the day was still and very hot but which didn’t detract from what was an excellent and fun event. Free beer at the end as well!
Why: We had visited southern Germany (Munich) in February and liked it to the extent that we decided to take a fortnight’s holiday in May/June to drive around and explore the country further. Had a look at the events on during the period and the Wurzburg marathon fitted the bill being held on our first Sunday away and previous web reviews were favourable.
Where: Wurzburg is a small City of around 130k people (Edinburgh is 450k) located on the Main river and lies about 75 miles East of Frankfurt. A university city, Wurzburg is also the capital of the Fanconian wine region famous for its white wines – the vineyards creep into the city suburbs! Würzburger brewery is also a popular pilsner beer worldwide. It also houses the Residence World Heritage Site and the Fortress Marienberg. In essence, a brilliant place for a marathon!
During World War II, on March 16, 1945, Wurzburg was visited by the RAF and about 90% of the city was destroyed by some 225 Lancaster bombers in 17 minutes. Most of the city’s churches, cathedrals, and other monuments did not survive, while the city centre, dating from medieval times, was totally destroyed in a firestorm in which some 5,000 people perished. During the next 20 years, the buildings of historical importance were painstakingly and accurately replicated. The citizens who rebuilt the city immediately after the end of the war were mostly women (Trummerfrauen = Rubblewomen) – men were either dead or POW. Relatively, Wurzburg was destroyed more completely than was Dresden in a firebombing the previous month.
How: There is a good event website at www.wuerzburg-marathon.de and I entered on line. Cost was €30; T-shirt was an extra €8. As with most European events, since most runners own their own, you have to hire a chip if you want to have your time registered (€5). You could also sign up on the day up till 30 mins before the event. Uniquely, you could also choose and change what distance you wanted to run during the event! You came back through the start point at half-way and there were two gates; one to stop at half-marathon and one to continue the full distance. If you dropped-out in the second half, you would still be credited with a half marathon time and get your HM medal etc. Good in theory but an awful temptation after 13 miles….
What (was it like): Well the expo was interesting to begin with? You registered and collected your number, chip etc at the city centre conference centre (which was also the start/finish area so no travelling miles out of town to some obscure site) either on Friday, Saturday or even Sunday morning. This is a relatively small event; by the previous week there were 1,200 in the marathon, 2,900 in the half marathon and there would have been a few more signed on at the weekend.
When we arrived there was a good spread of stalls with the usual kit, drinks, gels, other event details etc. There was also a stage where some lithe young women dressed in bras and shorts were throwing a ball about. There was apparently some link to one of the sponsors (support bra manufacturer) but this got a bit tenuous when they started parading in high heels and lingerie…
Because the numbers were relatively small, the start area was immediately outside on the main road. Plenty of room and people seemed to line up in groups behind pacemakers (who were well signed and had balloons etc). The elite runners were sent off first and we went off in the second group 10 minutes later. The route is like an elongated/squished four leafed clover which allowed you to return to the city centre every 10km although the only time you repeated any section was the 21st and the 42nd km. This allowed any supporters to see you at a number of different locations without having to travel far.
The route was relatively flat, a few drags but nothing major, and kept to the riverside valley as much as practical. Plenty of room, water every 2.5 or 3kms with banana/orange segments or dextrose tablets/drinks at the latter stops. There were single loos placed at each stop which seemed to be just right. Plenty of vocal support in the centre (roads were all closed) but understandably quieter on the bits further away. There were also plenty of bands (most I’ve seem), apparently 28 of them on about 10-12 separate stages, ranging from Mullet 80’s rock type bands to German oompha bands.
Had a good run doing the first half in around 1.50 but the heat got to me in the second half and I needed to take a comfort break at about 26km and just took it sensibly thereafter finishing in just under 4.05. Remembered to use sunblock this time (unlike Vienna!) so was pretty comfortable all the way round. It was hot, damn hot. I noticed a sign above a chemist in the first half that said that it was 25°C and the race website said it was 30°C in the shade by the end! There wasn’t a breeze worth talking about so it felt very dry. Saying that, I didn’t notice anyone in any great trouble but the finishing numbers were a lot lower than the numbers registered. Don’t know if this was because of drop-outs or if more people chose to do the Half on the day. When you finished, you were shepherded back into the centre to return your chip, pick up kit etc and they also gave you a pint of beer which was very welcome. After you were finished with your admin, you got another pint!
In summary, a really good local race in the best possible sense. Well organized, friendly and fun. Highly recommended and not only for the lingerie show, bands and the beer!