Kraków Marathon || Cracovia Marathon

Today: I need to open with a pity party. Come on I haven’t had one on one single blog where I moan a bit. So please.

Can I ? May I let myself have my moment ok?

Hi my name is Heiko, and Thanks for reading!  and allowing me to share with you my experience of the krakow marathon wet, and cold krakow marathon

Welcome. The party has started.

Usually it’s big City marathon names that catch our attention. And the 28th of April 2019 was a day where you really could select where you wanted to go, pick and choose. many races held on exactly the same date.

Just in Europe alone here’s a few

Antwerp Marathon in Belgium

Albi Marathon, France

Dusseldorf

Hamburg,

Dresden.. all in Germany

Maraton de Padova, Italy

Madrid Marathon

Zurich just to name a few.

Oh, if you want to go further, there is the Benoni Marathon too being held on that date. Shout out BENONI, ek se!

So why would you or perhaps, or should you go and run in Poland? 

In krakow for that matter?

Ok so here are the running reasons. :

It is actually so they say, the most important running event in Poland. And it is one of the biggest events. Held since 2002, 2019 saw runners’ from over 50 nations participating. 

For Polish runners’ it’s one of the big 5 you need to run in order to be awarded the Crown of Polish Marathons. And, this is a part I really looked forward to: there are some parts of the course where you run up and down the same route, which means you get to see the elite runners, which is always so inspiring to me.

Plus Krakow is a city worth visiting and it’s an easy place to visit because English is such a common language and the city has good vibes, good food please don’t just eat Pierogi. There’s plenty of good restaurants in town to choose from.  

I had already gotten to know the city quite well during my swim coach training and have jogged along the Vistula river. It is 1000 kilometers long, and if you find a good strava route, you can see all the city sites without getting lost, and plenty of bridges. 

OK, now back to the marathon.

You know, on this Blog I always give an opinion. An honest one. And it’s mine. You don’t need to share it, like or agree with it. But nothing worse than reading or watching these “I don’t want to take a stance” where everything is fine, I dare not say how it really was. 

So here goes. 

I was full of optimism, full of eagerness and determination really looking forward to the run.

End result you don’t need to skip to the end, I will tell you now:

I didn’t enjoy it.

Sucked.

There. That sums it up.

But let me tell you why

Seeing that I had to be in krakow on Monday, I thought why not drive up on Saturday, and do my first full marathon after this.. (insert photo broken ankle).

Nearly 1 year of not running, and walking either with a cast, or on crutches I was two months into officially being healed, and I wanted to run so badly.

To get back on track. To show myself, yes, I can still run and a marathon.. perfect place to start.

Can you imagine the thoughts going through my head as I was driving there, not not that the guy in front of me can’t drive, other thoughts related to me running the marathon. 

I was excited, and also a little nervous. 

As usual, I didn’t know anything about the route, or the race itself. Just show up and run, and that was the strategy. Time? 

Yes, I had a specific time in mind. I wanted to put no pressure whatsoever on the cured ankle. So, it was going to be an easy 4:00 hour run. Just relaxing and taking in the sights of krakow. 

Arriving at the Expo, I understood this was a serious event. Everything was set up so that you could get all your questions answered ready to collect your BiB and plenty of shops in case you forgot some gear. 

I had a hotel just 400 meters from the start, and two things were pretty high on my irritability scale.

  1. The outside air temperature.
  2. The rain.

To those of you that love cold rainy weather. This would have been your day in heaven. To those of you who prefer dry, warm to hot you will understand why my mood was not the best.

Anyway, I had driven there, 10 hours is a long journey so I will have to run and who knows maybe the weather will improve or at least it will stop raining.

Next morning. I take a breath and hold it. Look outside the window and I see beautiful puddles of water in the streets, people with umbrellas, low hanging clouds, and suddenly running this marathon was already feeling like not a great decision. This race could only be completed with perseverance, and a good mindset. Let’s see which of the two I have, and how much thereof.

The Gothic and Baroque buildings seemed even more intense as I walked over to the Start. First time ever that I started right at the back with a bunch of extremely fit and tough looking soldiers. I asked them whether this is just a warm-up for them. They looked so fit. Good spirits all round.   

Generally I was the warmest dressed guy around. Polish men, T Shirts and Shorts. Me, I wish I had brought my warmer Jacket along. In case you look at some YouTube videos it’s me and I think one other guy wearing bin liners with cut edges for our arms. 

So apparently it’s 6.000 participants and yes, it’s nice because it’s not too big a crowd, but the support.. They stood there waving and cheering. Amazing. I would’ve stayed in bed. See you later.

Now if you look at the course, you will see that it’s got a lot of tight turns, and runs close to the river. 

A close up of a mapDescription automatically generated

Surprisingly it’s a fast marathon for the pro’s. The 2019 winner Kotut Cyprian won in a time of 2:09. Obviously he didn’t have any issues with the weather. What an incredible sight, I just missed him as he was on fire, but managed to see the other elite runners’ speeding past me, an impressive display of force and power.

Now what made the race a challenge for me, was that you had to watch out not to step into these huge lake sized puddles that formed since the day before. Under the bridges, the under paths, or at the side of the river, the river bank.

Now there is one section where I made a bit of an error. At approximately 19 Km, I was so positive to be on my way towards the arena. Here it was a tough stretch to run as it is a tight crowd, the road is narrow.

Basically you are stuck like a sardine

And I was pretty sure this was the way out to the Arena.

Which means, once there it’s all one way west, straight back down to the river, and then into the old city.

This thought lifted my spirits. But something didn’t add up. I could put my finger on it. Until I realized we are heading north again and now this is the real stretch out east.

This stretch out-and-back to the Arena was a real slog. Here it was struggling even more than before.

Now you pass 30KM and the next few KM lead you down to the Vistula, the largest river in Poland. Was I happy to reach that.

Ah, before I forget to mention, the aid stations are aplenty so I can’t blame my deteriorating attitude on that either. Friendly crowds are still standing in the rain, cheering us runners’ along. And I needed the race to end soon. at the 39KM mark you see the Church towers in the distance, which means the market square and finish line are somewhere back there. Now, adding a bit of wind at the 40Km mark, felt like I might have to walk up this slightest of slopes. 

Then the last KM must be one of the nicest marathon finish lines. You run through the city streets, cobblestones and you can hear the music of the announcer but you don’t see anything yet so you just need to keep your head down and focus, concentrate on making every step count.

Then finally the finish line. Whow. My first marathon after my broken ankle. I should have been happy, proud. But you know what, I just mumbled “dziekuje” for my medal, and looking down walked straight to my hotel. That’s it. I was drained from the rain, the cold, and from running too fast. I had a pace of 5 ’25 per minute, sub 4:00. But it was an unnecessary speed. 

Now overall, is it worth the trip? Yes. It’s a nice city to spend time in. Of course, for me personally, if the weather is great, it’s nicer. 

If you are a runner in that best age group over 40+, you know that completing such tough races requires a certain mindset. And achieving this cannot be done in a hurry. It usually takes many failures, or close calls, to ascertain what you need to do to pull through such a hard race. The sad part is there are hardly any reliable programs out there to enable runners to train their brain. Until now. Welcome to Hypno-running. Where it’s all about running tools for your brain, making you a better, faster, and sometimes even prettier runner. Why prettier, you need to become a regular reader, and it will be revealed to you. 

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