The Dutch chapter of Carnethy was (unofficially) established at the end of January when I moved to Amsterdam to study for a year. Despite an active recruitment drive, involving dashing into various drinking establishments wearing my Whiteside inspired inappropriately short shorts and sweaty running t-shirt and loudly asking for a pint of the weakest, flattest beer while striking up friendly conversation about the joys of running in the hills with the confused clientele, membership has remained limited to one. I therefore decided it was time to dig out my Carnethy vest and promote the club at a race. The Leiden Marathon was selected due to its ‘hilly’ nature (15m of vertical over 26.2 miles according to Strava).
The race started in warm, still and humid conditions. From the photos of the start it looks like the local American Football team were drafted in to control the start line. I quickly settled into my planned race pace and as the kilometers ticked by I began to overtake some fast starters. After 11km the field split with the majority of runners who were taking part in the half heading off to the north while the select few entered into the marathon heading east along country lanes. I overtook the lead women just before the half way mark and felt not too bad at this point. At around 27 km as we made the turn back to Leiden we climbed onto the Dutch equivalent of a high and exposed ridge (a 2 m high levee) which provided an excellent view of gathering black clouds. I resigned myself to the fact that the thunder storm that was forecast for 2 hours into the race was on its way. Thankfully it never broke. The weather front did bring a welcome drop in temperature and a most unwelcome brisk headwind. The route passed through two villages on its way back to town with the inhabitants of the second welcoming runners dressed in some form of holy robes while performing what looked like a ritual dance while their wild haired, bearded leader extorted greater effort from the runners and dancers alike, while thuribles dispensing holy smoke were waved around, before the gathered ensemble burst into song as I passed through what I assume was a specially decorated arch. This proved a most welcome distraction from the wind, my increasingly tired legs and my slowing pace. The last few miles were carefully paced to avoid full blown cramp and I was grateful to reach Leiden and the finish in 2:49 (for Bob Johnson’s list 02:49:20, Leiden, 2016, at the age of 33).
Overall a friendly marathon event but not as much fun as a hill race. Next up I am heading to running country in Kenya where I will do my best to find a race in which to represent Carnethy.
Results are available at: http://www.marathon.nl/uitslagen-2016/