Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bratislava Half Marathon - Race Report

I always believe the best way to see a city is to run in it's half marathon or marathon. You run through the most scenic areas of town, pass all the major monuments and cover a fair amount of ground in a short amount of time (for some of us). With this in mind, I signed up for the Bratislava half marathon. Sightseeing and completing a training run with a large running group - excellent!

The registration was at the Primacialny Palace (how else), and was extremely well staffed and organised. I was handed a shoe box, but much to my disappointment, no brand-new shoes inside, just my race bib and souvenir t-shirt. Afterwards I took a quick tour of the start located at Hviezdoslavovo Square and right in front of the National Theater. It was everything you would expect of a city like Bratislava - stately buildings facing onto an impressive square, all under the gaze of a large castle. The organizers, Be Cool Ltd. could be seen rushing around and erecting final barricades and blowing up the large balloon arc through which we would be running tomorrow.

On the day of the race, I arrived early into the city centre after over-calculating my travel time (public transport in Bratislava is just too efficient). At one of the only cafes open, I found good espresso coffee and almost all tables occupied by lean, short-shorts clad runners. Outside, the amount of runners passing steadily increased, each marked by the drink bottle in one hand, some sucking on a gel, others finishing a banana. At the square the first competitors were lining up - the in-line skaters for the inline race:

The view back to the start:

Then it was time for the marathon and half marathon runners to line up. At the front, the Elite runners can be seen:

Edwin Kebowen (Kenya) shaking hands with Glyva Evgenii (Ukraine). Kebowen would go on to win the Marathon in an easy 2:27:39, barely breaking a sweat in the final kilometre:

Runners waiting for the start shown on one of the large screens in the square:

Runners coming through the old town, having just passed through Michael's Gate:

(I can be seen behind the yellow-shirted runner):

At the finish line, very happy with my run:

Overall, the run took me through the many areas of Bratislava - from the old town to the foreshore of the Danube, over the New Bridge and through the biggest residential suburb, Petrzalka (here I encountered 8km of monotonous road running). The camaraderie was great amongst runners, and I ended up unofficially running with one Slovakian "Mr Red Shorts." Although we did not talk once, he stuck with me the whole time, increasing his pace whenever I would. Our brief relationship ended with a firm handshake at the finish line! So, with medal around my neck and a "recovery beer" in hand, my tour of Bratislava ended!

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