Cold cold Sülldorfer Feldmark-Marathon

19th of November

Looking through the list of marathon races during Germany’s colder months you won’t find much. But a few races you can always count on are the ones organized by members of the notorious German 100 Marathon Club

After all, they somehow all made it to 100+ marathons by running marathons. If there aren’t any, you’ll have to make them yourself. 

Hans Joachim Meyer used to be the first chairman of Germany’s 100 Marathon Club
Hans Joachim Meyer used to be the first chairman of Germany’s 100 Marathon Club

This man has not only exceeded the 100 marathons in his lifetime, but even 1,000.

1,618 is his current and probably final marathon count as he has given up the running at age 78, which was a few years ago. Now, he still makes marathons happen for others. That’s someone to look up to. 

The race center is his backyard in the Hamburg-Sülldorf neighboorhood, just at the northwestern border of the city. There are maybe 50 people who showed up to take on his challenge and collect another marathon (or halfmarathon) finish. Me included.

A week after Ultra Steinhart 666, I felt up for another long run after having done three short and easy ones during the week. 

Hajo had a bunch of volunteers helping him to set up this race, which he does three to four times per year. It’s the 14th edition today. The race is open for anyone to register and the fee is 5 Euros in cash. It’s more of a community service he’s doing here. So I gave him 10. 

A huge percentage of today’s participants are members of his 100 Marathon Club. I am aware of them but never had any tighter connection to them. From what I’ve seen from afar, is they are usually older and slower runners. I aspire to be an older runner, too, but I’d like to keep being fast or maybe even getting faster, so there were some conversations I overheard which sounded weird to me. For example, some were planning on walking the marathon. Others packed their headlights because they were planning on finishing after it would have gotten dark again. That’s in about eight hours from now. 

Still, that’s a lot better than spending a November Sunday on the couch watching mindless TV or scrolling social media. Kudos to them all for showing up.

November 17, 2019

Almost frozen
Almost frozen

It’s somewhere around zero degrees Celsius, and I have trouble keeping warm. Being slightly too cold right before a marathon race is recommended, but this is a bit extreme. Usually, my clothing is smart enough, but today’s weak point were the shoes and socks combination. I didn’t anticipate that and also didn’t have anything warmer at home. Which led to numb feet. Completely numb, insensitive to anything. Well, it’s just a few minutes, I thought while jumping around, and during the first few kilometers they will surely warm up.

Start!
Start!
Hajo giving the race briefing – 5 laps of 7.3 km and 1 shortened lap, directions are on the back of our bib numbers
Hajo giving the race briefing – 5 laps of 7.3 km and 1 shortened lap, directions are on the back of our bib numbers
In case you get lost and no one else is still on the course. And your phone has given up.
In case you get lost and no one else is still on the course. And your phone has given up.

And go!

I saw a handful of runners going fast to the front. These days, at tiny races like the one today, the chances of me reaching a good position in the end are rather high. I didn’t want to win today, though, because I didn’t have any time to spend after the finish for a bit of socializing. Prior plans had been made and I was supposed to pick up Julie from her friend Linda’s place and be home on time to prepare for some family guests we were expecting. So I had to hurry up!

Which is why I chose a somewhat fast 5:00 minute per kilometer pace. I reckoned I would be able to keep the pace today without exerting myself too much. It would lead to a 3:30 hour marathon, which would align perfectly with today’s schedule. 

Off I went on the numb feet. That felt weird. Like two foreign objects attached to my legs. Gotta get some sort of thermal running socks for future situations like these.

Even the ponies need clothes today
Even the ponies need clothes today

At some point during the first few kilometers I noticed a physical impact on my right foot. Looking down, I saw a stone the size of a medium potato bounce off to the front. A heavy one. It must have hit my foot but I couldn’t feel it. Okay, doesn’t matter probably. 

After around five kilometers my feet finally had their feel-good temperature again. Nothing from the stone, so I forgot about it and kept running. 

Just like last weekend in Steinfurt, today turned out to be a good and calm, sunny but cold fall’s day
Just like last weekend in Steinfurt, today turned out to be a good and calm, sunny but cold fall’s day

Fifth position is what I was at. I overtook a slightly slower guy soon, and after another half lap I came by two other runners who had to pause for a natural call’s break. Third place. Good enough. I couldn’t see anyone in front ever and I also had no ambition to change that. Just enjoy today’s run and try to keep the same pace.

While the day got better and better
While the day got better and better

After every 7.3 kilometer lap I had to pass by the aid station and get my number written down. They had a great buffet of food and multiple drinking options. Best of all, and very smart, there was a wooden board with cup sized holes in it, marked with the bib numbers of the runners. Next to it, reusable strong plastic cups. So you took a cup, filled it with Coke, in my case, drank, and put it into your bib number’s hole to save for next time. 

I slowly but steadily increased my lap pace from 5:03 min/km (first shortened lap) to 4:58, 4:51, 4:46, and even 4:44 min/km on the fifth lap. Then, I got a bit tired and fell back to 4:53 min/km for the final lap. Between each of the laps I had half a cup of Coke, adding to about 0.3 liters of it in total for the whole marathon. No food at all. That’s a very efficient marathon, nutrition-wise!

Surprisingly, I came in 2nd place. One of the two front runners must have given up somewhere. Or maybe he was initially signed up for the halfmarathon distance option.

2nd place is the perfect result for today for me.

ZIEL – that went well!
ZIEL – that went well!

I could quickly congratulate the winner, who came in four minutes ahead of me, thank Hajo, grab an Erdinger Alkoholfrei beer, and head to my car while being happy about my result of 3:26:11 hours

That’s my third best marathon result ever, and all three of them happened in this year. It’s being going well. 

For my right foot, though, not so much. About half an hour after the race’s adrenaline wore off, I noticed strong pain in it. Nothing’s broken, fortunately, but it’s swollen and hurts and has been for a few days now. Probably it’ll just go away in a week. Unlucky. I missed my standard 10-15 km recovery run on Monday because of that, but fortunately I had absolutely no sore muscles after this marathon and therefore didn’t really need it. 

Scored 2nd place out of 27 male finishers. Buuut, I actually was the youngest male participant at 35. Slight advantage, as no older person ever fails to tell me.

Fun race, good course, organization was flawless, especially the food and drinks. Thanks, Hajo! Hoping for a bunch more of these.

Bib number. No medal today, and you wouldn’t expect one for just 5 bucks.
Bib number. No medal today, and you wouldn’t expect one for just 5 bucks.

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