Trying to keep warm in November
It began with an email I wrote out of the blue to a certain Jürgen Penthor in May 2013. I found his marathon blog simply by googling. It was very interesting to me. He replied the next day and we decided to meet at Luxembourg marathon and chat about our common hobby.
Isn’t the Internet the Greatest?
We ran the first half of Luxembourg together, and subsequently never lost contact. He always had something useful to say to me, answered my questions, and just has an inspiring mindset. In 2014, we both ran Warsaw and met again, in person. His wife Sonja was with him, too. She’s also a very positive, always smiling person. Again one year later, in 2015, I ran Bratislava and brought my family. Jürgen has a strict policy of never running the same marathon twice – he prefers to explore new races –, and had already done Bratislava back in 2007. But because it’s conveniently located not too far away from his place of living, Rauchwart, he, Sonja, and their two daughters decided to come visit us in Bratislava.
Little Alina and Bianca immediately hit it off with our then two daughters Julie and Vera. Running around a restaurant together, carrying each other through the place, laughing a lot. And we adults always have a lot to talk about.
Jürgen is putting the whole marathon thing to other extremes, compared to me. For example, he does things like running a marathon in Dubai on a Friday, hopping on a plane to China on the following Saturday, and running the Hongkong marathon on Sunday, just 2 days later. Incredible!
In 2014 he organized his first own marathon race. Right where he and his family live, in the town of Rauchwart, in Austria’s south eastern Burgenland state. Not too far from the Hungarian border. He asked me to come, but it didn’t fit our schedules. After the race, in which he himself participated as well, had been a success, he repeated organizing it in 2015. Again, conflicts of planning for us, unfortunately.
2016 is the Year
This November though, we weren’t vacating in other areas of the world, and Jürgen was about to hold the 3rd official Rauchwart Marathon on the 5th of the month. A week after my Dublin marathon though, but if Jürgen can do two marathons on a weekend, why shouldn’t I be able to do two of those within a timespan of 6 days?
I was one of the earliest registrants, I think. I was really looking forward to trying this rather small, but very cozy and friendly race.
After a successful but also quite challenging Dublin marathon on 30th of October, I needed to regenerate fast in order to not fail because of exhaustion in Rauchwart. How to do that?
First, eat proteins. When people hear “proteins”, they usually think “meat”, but as I live vegetarian this year as an experiment, dead animal pieces weren’t an option. Thankfully, the world’s flora is full of protein-rich plants. I basically inhaled the beans, peas, hummus, tofu, spinach, and what not. So far, so good.
Regenerative runs are also a thing I’ve never really tried. The idea: go on a very slow and not too long run very soon after the marathon race. That feels contradictory to what you probably would prefer to do, but it worked very well! Sore muscles were basically healed by Tuesday evening after Dublin.
So on Friday the 4th of November, Sophie, our 3 little ones, and I stepped onto a plane towards Vienna, got in a rental car and drove the remaining 150 kilometers down to the 459-soul village of Rauchwart. Arriving in the afternoon, we went straight for the site of the event.
The air was so fresh and clean, it felt great stepping out of the car. Next to this tent was a football field and a little sports club hut, where Jürgen and his helping family had set up the accrediting site for the marathon. The event was sold out!
3 Races, 90 People Each
A full marathon, a half marathon, and an 1/8th marathon race were supposed to happen tomorrow. We were all very happy to see each other again. The five girls immediately played with each other as if the last meeting was yesterday, and not, in fact, one and a half years behind us.
All the goodie bags containing the starting numbers were carefully prepared and neatly lined up. Jürgen’s daughter Alina gave me my bag and I was delighted to find I had the second most awesome starting number: 2!
Yes, there’s benefits of being friends with a race organizer. Since he knows I and my partners just started the business of selling this honey-based power gel for endurance athletes, Jürgen offered to put HoneyPower advertisements into the bags for free, and even bought a lot of HoneyPower to give out to the runners tomorrow during the race to make sure they finish. A great guy he is. Needless to say, I was very happy about that.
After chatting for a while and seeing some other runners coming in to collect their bags, we decided to call it a night and head off to our apartment and relax a bit. The whole day had a bit of an impact on me, in terms of energy usage. So I hoped for a long and uninterrupted night. And I got it.
In the morning we drove over again and parked our car next to a couple hundred on the football field next to the race.
The weather could have been better. It was just a bit over the freezing point and with a very grey sky. I was glad it wasn’t raining.
We walked around and talked to very busy Jürgen and Sonja for a very short while. Jürgen introduced me to Rauchwart’s mayor Michaela Raber. For me it’s really surreal meeting a mayor. But when you think about it, most mayors are bound to be mayors of small towns, so a lot of people are mayors, and it’s just another job. You don’t realize that when you live in a city of 1.7 million people, electing just this one person into office.
A short while later I casually walked over to the start just 4 minutes before 10 AM, when the race would start. Talk about the difference between huge marathons and small ones like these.
At 10 AM sharp, Mrs Raber, who also works as a kindergarten teacher in addition to running this town, shot off a gun. My 8th marathon race this year and 29th in total started.
As I’ve already said quite a few times, Rauchwart is small. That’s why the course was one loop of 5.275 kilometers, which was to be run 8 times for a complete marathon. You can guess how many laps the half marathoners and 1/8th marathons would have to do.
For me, 8 laps is a first. I did a 4 lap marathon in Sofia recently, and enjoyed the concept. But 8? Doesn’t that get boring? I was about to find out.
About 10 seconds after leaving the starting area, it got quiet. Just the noise of running shoes hitting the asphalt at a high frequency. I find that sound to be calming and even meditative.
No shouting family and friends, just the calm nature. Well, a little bit of wind. But that’s it. I like it. And the legs work, so I’ve got nothing to complain about so far.
After less than 3 kilometers, I already didn’t come across many other runners. It felt more like a well-organized training run, which is always appreciated. Lap 1 was quickly done at a good pace, and I was very happy to see the family right after the starting gate. The girls were happily helping to hand out medals to the 1/8th marathon finishers, who were just about to be done.
I gave them all kisses after I’ve learned my lesson during last weekend’s Dublin marathon and they were very happy about that. Off to the next lap!
Lap 2 and 3 were fine, I could increase the pace just by running how fast my body felt like. After the 3rd lap I noticed I didn’t have any drinks on the refreshment station so far – after almost 16 kilometers. I just forgot and didn’t miss it! But I made sure to remember to have some water at the half marathon mark.
The 4th lap was again a bit faster than the laps before, and I felt great after 1:45 hours. Just now I realized that I ran the race like I would have run a half marathon. Exactly at this point, half-way there, the energy is fading away. I thought about giving up because this is just a fun race for me, but then I remembered: no giving up. Also, I want to earn that cool medal Jürgen had designed! And I don’t want to go home defeated and sad. So I just kept on going, although I actively slowed down a lot. Because after all, who cares about my finishing time? I don’t!
Lap 5 wasn’t easy, but I got through. Every time I came by the starting/finishing gate, Julie was standing there talking to the other kids and parents, handing out medals. She was doing great! And I always got a kiss. The MC always announced me by name and city of birth, and commented on how I was probably about to collect kisses from the kids again.
Sophie, Emma, and Vera had gone into the nearby tent to warm up. After getting this announced kiss from Julie, I told her: “Just 3 laps left!” and then she pushed me away, meaning I should hurry up and finish the race so we could play sooner. The folks around us found this to be adorable and laughed. Some HoneyPower, and at least I was feeling awake and energetic again!
But as I suspected, lap 6 got even harder. The legs just were too exhausted from Dublin, I guess. I walked a little and even sat down on a bench for a minute.
The kids were at the start/finish again, which was a huge motivation. Just 2 laps left! But then it felt like it was getting colder and colder. I was shaking.
Again, some walking. I chatted to another guy who was not the fastest today. But I had the same experience I had with most other people here in the area: I could barely understand a word they were saying. Even though we’re officially speaking the same language, this southern Austrian dialect is almost not recognizable to me. Funnily enough, this is not at all the case with Jürgen and his family. This Austrian guy, Harald, was very nice, though. Even if we didn’t really understand each other, we were laughing and having a good time.
But soon, I had to slow down some more and he left. I needed 8 additional minutes on this 7th lap to complete the 5.275 kilometers.
I imagined I was playing one of the greatest games of all time, Mario Kart 64, and heard the specific sound, ringing in the final lap, in my head. As I got through the gate, the MC commented: “Here comes Tim Teege from Hamburg, and he’s still in the race!”
Well yes, I am. He made it sound like they were about to send out troops to go find me. Not today! – I thought.
The final lap was a lot easier than the one before, but I still walked for a good chunk of it. The last stretch I made sure to muster up the energy to run into the finish. No walking through the gate, that would’ve been not cool. The smile got wider and wider as I got closer and closer to the finish, and one of the other organizers held out his hand to give me a high-five right before I got through the finish. Happily slapping the hand, I was excited to have finished!
Julie got a medal out of the box and placed it over my head. How cool is that! And Sophie, Emma, and Vera were also there to congratulate. It was a great moment. Jürgen came over, too.
3:54:17 after all – not too bad! But look at these lap times:
|Lap||Elapsed Time||Elapsed Distance (km)||Lap Time||Lap Pace (min/km)|
And here are my Strava activity stats, if you’re a nerd like me, you can click it for more info.
Also, I’ve made some photos and got this nice certificate.
We chatted for a while, but it got cold very quickly. So I had a hot cup of tea and some food – it really was brilliantly organized. I couldn’t think of anything else missing. Walking around the area, Jürgen’s parents greeted me. I hadn’t seen them before, but they had seen me and knew me. That’s always a little weird, but also nice. They are lovely people. Jürgen’s brother Harald also greeted me out of the blue a bit later. I felt like a celebrity!
Back at our apartment I was enjoying a hot bath together with the kids. Relaxation is not possible this way, but it’s fun. In the afternoon we drove back to Rauchwart and visited Jürgen and his family, after they had taken care of closing up the event and venue and cleaning up the biggest parts of it.
Just a week ago, Jürgen had completed his 100th full marathon race in Nairobi, Kenya. Just 2 days before that, he ran number 99 in Amman, Jordan. And today, he had been honored with a commemorative plaque given to him by mayor Michaela Raber for this achievement in a short ceremony during the marathon race. What a nice thing.
We had a great evening together, during which the 5 girls ran about the house and played as much as they could, and we adults all made sure to get enough sweet calories into our bodies. You know, to regenerate.
It’s been a nice weekend experience in a cozy village I otherwise probably would not have visited. I’m very glad we have done that.
Now I’m contemplating what other races and events I shall do during the fall, winter, and spring. Waiting until the next EU marathon in October 2017 is way too long! But I’m sure there will be something. Contact me if you have a good suggestion.
Thanks for reading, everyone! By the way, some people have asked me to implement a RSS feed for this website. So I’ve done that. Just copy/paste the URL www.teesches-marathons.eu/feed into your feed reader of choice (I recommend feedly, but feedbin seems to be cool, too). A great looking tool to view the feeds is Reeder. That way you’ll get informed about new posts on this site whenever you choose to.