My Tech Support & World’s Greatest Husband added another achievement to his list this weekend. He went out and ran a marathon! You can (and probably should) go check out his blog for all the pertinent details. Needless to say, I’m pretty damn proud.
First off, the marathon was in Luxembourg. It was to be a night time run; “lit by torches” said the promotional material. TS&WGH was actually hoping for a “villagers coming after Frankenstein” kind of aesthetic, but alas, it was more along the lines of hurricane lamps the last 50 yards of the race. We’ve been to Luxembourg twice before, so we knew it would be scenic, and the night element sounded unique, even without the torches. We arrived Friday evening to find that our hotel was located in the exact same neighborhood as the last time we were there. Last time, we couldn’t find our hotel and took one, out of desperation, in the titty bar area near the train station. This time TS&WGH found us the Best Western, but two days before we left I checked the address, and lo and behold, it was across from the train station. Never mind, it was very convenient, and as long as you stayed off the side streets it wasn’t seedy at all.
Saturday could have been a touristy day, but it didn’t seem right to walk all over the Centre Ville just a few hours before TS&WGH had to run it — and the rest of the Grand Duchy while he was at it. So, we checked him in and gathered his kit. This is the new fancy schmancy sports complex. The kids and I wouldn’t be watching the finish here as it would be between 10 pm and midnight, so I took a picture of it empty:
There was all kinds of entertainment prepared for the day: a sponsor “mall” at the complex, bands and musicians along the route, plenty of food and drink, and excellent people watching:
As an aside, TS&WGH and I usually rate the cool-factor of a trip by the amount of English we overhear when people watching. More English usually means tourist trap; little to no English (or at least not American English) means we’re off the beaten track, experiencing something like the locals do. (Either that or we’re masquerading as German tourists, which I may not want to admit to.) Anyways, we heard little American English on race day, although there seemed to be American runners at the hotel Sunday morning. I love making up stories based on what I can tell just by looking at or listening to people. If I were a spy, my report from breakfast today would say that the group of four twenty-somethings with UCSB sweatshirts ran the team race and will now have a unique “we backpacked across Europe after graduation” story. We also saw Seargent X and his german wife who, like us, traveled from somewhere in Germany for the weekend. Fourty-something Colonel-looking guy and his wife and kids probably came down from NATO HQ in Belgium. Why? I don’t know, but he looked like brass and the wife spoke no French or German (both of which work in Luxembourg) and Belgium is a shorter drive.
Anyways, we wasted some time in the middle of the day and then worked our way back to d’Coque (the sports complex) for the race. By then they were handing out giant inflatable hands and noisemakers. Yeah, kids with noisemakers — just what a nervous racer wants to hear! The hands are great for butt-smacking though:
The photo above looks pretty empty, but within an hour the street was packed. I think I heard that 7,846 people had signed in for the race. About 2,000 were running the whole marathon; I think 3,000 something were doing the team race; and the rest were half marathon runners. Here’s what maybe a quarter of that many people and their supporters looked like at the start of the race:
After the start (TS&WGH did find us and waved quickly as he was swept past in a wave of runners) the kids and I hopped on a shuttle bus to the first team run trade-off point. By kilometer 12 or so, the runners had spread out enough that we spotted our guy pretty easily. I also took note of the runners directly ahead of him so we could spot him easier at the next point. First was a guy in a kilt, then a guy with a chef hat, then came guys with balloons and their names and best times printed on their shirts, then a guy with a cape advertising a run through Beaujolais country, then older guy with beer bottle caps or coins on his hat and some other get-up. My tip for runners– wear a flashy hat or shirt so your family can spot you in time to get the camera out. The kids were bored waiting, even though the street was packed with families cheering everyone on. The ice cream truck came just in time. The kids had barely started eating when TS&WGH came by to steal a few licks. The route made a 5K loop at that point, so we walked across a small parking lot and waited for him to come by again. Kilt guy was quick. Then came chef hat guy with balloon guys not far behind. Long pause until Beaujolais guy came and then guy in a sequined vest (how did we miss him the first time around?) but now the kids were getting into giving high fives with their big orange hands. Then we spotted daddy:
This was almost the half way point and he was doing well. We hopped back on the shuttle and headed back to the hotel area to get a döner kebap for dinner. The ride took much longer than our earlier one since the bus had to stop five times along the way to let runners pass. I kept looking out the window but didn’t see anyone we recognized. When we finally got our döner kebaps they had to be the worst we’ve ever eaten. I have heretofore been under the assumption that there is no such thing as a bad doner, but I was proven wrong. However, it was now dusk and I estimated that TS&WGH could be nearing the part of the route just up the street, so off we went to see if we recognized anyone. The crowd was much thinner and the runners were working hard (well, except for the bouncy, fresh ones running the last leg of the team run). I was very excited when chef hat guy ran past withing a few minutes of our arrival! Then came Bernd and Werner with their balloons (now I could actually read their shirts). Then we waited. The kids slumped. No kilt guy, shiny vest guy or Beaujolais guy. The kids were bored and tired, so I had to succumb and take them to the hotel and put them to bed. When TS&WGH finally made it back to the hotel after the race he said he did pass our area before nightfall, and though he had passed bottle cap hat guy earlier, he hadn’t caught up to chef hat guy, so we probably missed seeing him a third time by mere minutes. (There was some confusion as to whether Bernd and Werner were the same balloon guys as earlier in the day. Apparently there were several small groups in the same get-up — probably part of the same running club.) Oh well, there is a limit to how much the kids can stand in one day.
Now I wonder where the next one will be. Frankfurt is nearby, and then there’s one in a valley in the Swiss Alps that sounds pretty scenic to me…