Race Report by Michaela Eyley
Thanks toDave Phillips and our friend Astrid, Rob and I both entered this race for the first time. It was our first half “abroad” and it has not been any more exotic for us than Germany, but it was really worth travelling back to the Vaterland for this.
We arrived on Thursday, explored the industrial city of Duisburg and also Duesseldorf on the Friday. Saturday we picked up the race packs at the stadium, where there was a bit of a kerfuffle regarding Rob’s number. We first needed to pay our €31 Euro deposit each (of which €25 got returned after the race) for a timing chip, then they would hand out the numbers. The chap had already picked out Rob’s number but sent us over to the payment desk for the chips. We turned round and two minutes later, the chap had managed to lose Rob’s number. The girl issued him a new number, but it wasn’t really his (i.e. no name) which was a bit annoying. I kept on checking if the number might have been located later but no such luck.
That was a bit of a running theme as the hotel reception confused our and Dave and Robina’s rooms and brekkie/no brekkie plus the final bills, but it all got sorted in the end.
On race day, we met up nice and early as we wanted to make use of the free transport offered. Atmosphere on the bus was lovely as the Germans responded to my “Guten Morgen” greeting and off we went. Even the bus driver wished us good luck, which was nice. Warm up was done not by super fit aerobics instructors shouting their commands but by three lovely Samba dancers and a Samba drumming band – many of them dotted around the course by the way. Well, that certainly got people’s hearts beating a bit faster whilst I enjoyed the music and was fascinated by the girls’ outfits.
The course was nice and flat and well supported. People shouted out my name and one nearly broke into song which made me smile. The weather was a tad too hot for running at around 25 degrees centigrade it was a bit of a struggle and I was running with a cold which did not help either. However, it meant that there was lots of encouragement on the way. The Duisburger people are a friendly, welcoming bunch who struck me as down to earth with a good sense of humour. I took it all in, thanked people for coming out which made it all an enjoyable race for me. I was stunned how much we were given: a medal, technical t-shirt, free entry to the Duisburger Zoo (usually €16), free transport for runners on the day and a ½ price ticket to a spa which we ran out of time to use. You could also get your medal engraved for free and inside the stadium was free beer (as many as you wanted) and free massages after the race which, for once, I took advantage of.
The finish made me feel like an athlete, like a winner as “Hells Bells” by AC/DC was belting out of the PA system, and as you enter the stadium, you run through a tunnel of flashing lights before you do half a lap of the stadium to cross the finish line. Many congrats from the helpers who handed out roses, plastic sheets and medals.
What I found different and missed at this race compared to British races however is the “the fun runners” in fancy dress. Those rhinos, fridges, men in tutus etc were nowhere to be seen, bar one runner dressed as a clown and another as “Schumi” Michael Schumacher. The Germans take it all very seriously and I very much doubt I would be running had I been living in Germany but then again you never know.
In a nutshell: A fantastic, well organised event, friendly people and a flat but picturesque course. I think we will be back.
Special thanks go to Dave and Robina Phillips for the great company and sharing the experience.
Rob Eyley got a Half PB with 1.39.05, 27th in his age category
Michaela Eyley ran 2.50.44 despite a nasty head cold