Beautiful weather, a great course, and an impressive city. Frankfurt marathon is possibly one of my new favourites.
After finally clearing all of my debts this summer I decided it was time to treat myself after years of scraping by. So I booked a beautiful hotel at the top of one of Frankfurt's biggest skyscrapers and signed up for the marathon at the top of my "to-do" list. I remember at the expo to my first marathon in London 3 years ago, I talked to one of the guys who organised the Frankfurt marathon. He told me of this amazing finish line inside a concert arena where you run along a red carpet in front of live bands, with smoke machines a cheerleaders. At that moment I know it had to run it.... and I hadn't ever run my first marathon yet.
I arrived in Frankfurt 2 days early, I wanted to give myself a day spare to get lost in the city and relax. After arriving on the friday morning I took advantage of the early opening of the expo to go and register and check out who was there. I was also on the lookout for potential sponsors for America. I won't lie, I was a little underwhelmed by the expo, it wasn't overly large like the ones in London and Berlin, but there were still all of the usual branded stands around. Adidas, Asics, Brooks, CEP etc. Nothing really caught my eye this time around so I settled for my usual expo routine of a massage followed by a frankfurter breakfast (Couldn't resist a having a frankfurter in Frankfurt!). After a nice slow hours walk around the expo I decided that my 16 hours of traveling was catching up to me and headed for my luxury top floor apartment. I won't go on to much about the hotel, but I will share these awesome photos from there for you to get jelous over!
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The saturday cleared up beautifully and was a great sign of the coming weekend weather. I made a quick blog post on this day about the race build up which you can read here if you haven't already.
Race day morning I woke to my view over frankfurt city with the sunrise coming up over the horizon. Thankfully I had benefited from the clocks going back an hour so I was plenty rested. I had my usual pasta salad breakfast followed by far too many bananas on the way to the start line. My hotel was fairly close, just a 15 minute walk to get in my warm ups and get my brain in the right place for the next 5 hours! My last race was the 100km ultra marathon in September and my lack of training in between the 2 races made me slightly unsure of how quickly I would be finishing. My personal best was just over 5 hours in Berlin a few years previous, if I could beat this then I would be equal parts impressed and ecstatic. I took my place in my usual starting block... the last one, I let all the actual "marathon runners" head off fast first so I don't get in their way! The first 6km were through the main financial district of Frankfurt before moving on into the old town with its old buildings, huge courtyards and markets before traveling on a look to one on the main bridges crossing the Main River coming from North-West Germany. This first half of the race was nice and flat, and the streets lined with musicians and interesting buildings and scenery to admire. The next stage was on the south side of the river and was the part I was expecting to be mentally the hardest. Most of this stage was out of the city and was so straight I remember very little about it until we crossed back over the river along the main motorway!
After passing the half marathon mark I felt that I was surprisingly feeling good, now huge aches or pains, but still that constanty niggle in my ankles to remind me of the injuries 6 months previous! My time was on track for a new PB, which I had previously thought was unachievable with my current fitness, so I pushed myself on still with a good pace around the final suburb loop and then headed back into the city center. There is a beautiful 3 or 4km stretch as you come back into the city center where you see all of the small residential houses slowly disappear into industrial areas then again into big open shopping areas before hitting the skyscrapers in the city center. It gives you a nice big boost as it reminds you that you are nearly at the finish line. For those who don't really study the route before hand, I can imagine them having a nice surprise when they have to wiggle through the financial district again, almost to the point where you can lose your bearings. By now I had slowed my pace down as I could feel my knees start to tighten up, Id quite like to walk away from this race unlike the last one. It was about at the 40th KM mark the the five hour pacer ran past me! I had managed to keep a good distance ahead of them for the whole race just to be passed 2km before the finish line. But, I plowed on knowing that I would not be far off my PB time either way.
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Then, suddenly I was on the final straight again back to the messe, with the red carpet clad finish line. A you run into the opening of the huge hall, your eyes struggle to adjust after spending 5 hours in the beautiful sunlight, all you see as you run in is the finishing arch at the end of a huge red carpet which is lined by cheerleaders and a mountain of smoke. You cannot even see the stands full of spectators that are filling the arena the masses of cheers of encouragement! This was by far the best race ending I have seen and also the main reason for coming to run this marathon.
I spent the next half an hour in the stands watching the other runners finish and wondering if I looked just a surprised and amazed when I entered as they did! All in all I would highly recommend the Frankfurt marathon, it's flat enough for beginners and in a beautiful city with the best finishing line of any race which I now of! I have no races now in the pipeline, although I am considering re-attempting the 50-mile ultra which broke me this year. First up, battling through the winter cold in the mountains!
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