34th Rhein-Ruhr Marathon, Dusiburg, Germany – 11.6.17
Race report by Dave Phillips.
Well what a fabulous event this is for the c6,000 entrants in the Hand Bike, Inline Skating, Relay and Normal marathon (me) plus the half marathon (Rob and Michaela Eyley) and kids’ events. This is my 13th consecutive time over there and it has to take top place in the events’ rankings for every reason you can think of.
The HQ is at the huge Wedau Sports HQ (world canoeing and rowing events take place there), plus it’s a Sports College with all facilities, Ice Hockey arena and the HQ of Dusiburg Football Club ( better that the Ricoh) where the races start and finish, plus every sporting and social facility imaginable in hundreds of acres with lakes, woodlands and sports facilities. Now you know why we go back every year for 5 days fun.
So 466 started the marathon at 0940 hrs but in was ominous as it was already 28 degrees. The course is all on closed roads and goes through the industrial heartland of Germany (which is at the confluence of its 2 major rivers the Rhein and the Ruhr) and much of the course follows these massive rivers full of those huge barges (up to 100 metres long in some cases). Just fabulous running in such a place and crossing the rivers on bridges some almost a mile in length.
The support from the residents is fantastic as many hold garden parties and encourage the competitors, play music, hand out drinks and food and treat the occasion as a civic event and welcome everyone. No one moans that the roads are closed as it is accepted that such occasions help the community and also all shops are closed on Sundays so there is a real family atmosphere all around. Just like the Cov half eh with all the moaners saying “can’t get to Sainsburys for my 6 pack etc. because of all them runners!”
However by 1030 it was about 30 degrees and sweltering and with my breathing problems things were getting difficult. First the 5 hr lead runner passed me at 10 miles then in a beautiful parkland stretch on the banks of the Rhein the 5.30 marker man passed me and I knew I was in trouble.
There were not many of us left I thought and from 16 onwards I had to race walk it with the occasional jog but it was now in the low 30s, scorching and airless.
So I plodded on but from 17 onwards the clean-up brigade of sweepers and lorries and many staff were removing all the drink stations, road markers, km markers, route directions, road closure things and everything that you take for granted on a run. It transpires that they thought there were no runners behind them so they were cleaning up the route safely.
So with 9 miles still to go it was dodgy but at least some marshals and police were still there and some roads still closed so we knew where we were going. I had to cart round with me a large 2 litre bottle of Gizo (sort of Lucozade) and for the last 9 mile these cleaning and sweeper vehicles (about 20 of them) were with 4 of us all the time-plus the sweeper ambulance car asking if we wanted to pull out.
For the last 6 miles I was reduced to a brisk walk/jog at about a 15 minute mile pace and it was getting hotter all the time.
Finally the Wedau Sports HQ was in sight and I did manage to run into the football stadium to huge cheers from Robina, Rob and Michaela Eyley and Astrid our German friend who also did the half. I was officially last but got the biggest reception from the organisers and officials and many others who were still there, plus the local TV live TV team who interviewed me for their programme on the event.
So job done but never have I felt so bad and legless.
The good news was that for the 3rd year running I won a silver trophy large cup for coming 2nd in my 70+ age category. So that ended a great week as it added to my Midlands Masters Athletics Club’s Presidents Annual Award Trophy last Sunday.
So I guess I just have to keep going even if slower these days.
3/6/18 is the date for next year’s events in Duisburg so check it out.
Dave Phillips 6 hrs 14 mins (466th out of 466).
Bourton on the Water ½ this Sat 17/06 at 1800 hrs but very hilly so last again?