You learn something new every time you run a marathon and as I made a beeline for the Portaloos at kilometre 12 of Budapest, I wondered what it was that I should avoid eating next time around.
It could have been the pre-race pasta party at the expo the day before, where a choice of sweet or salty pasta topped with runny cottage cheese and deep fried bacon pieces was offered (it tasted as good as it sounds, really). There was also complimentary beer, which I don’t normally indulge in the day before a marathon. But I wasn’t really running for a time, rather, as a sightseeing tour of the city, so made an exception.
And the route didn’t disappoint either. It was predominantly along the Danube with the autumnal hues of the Buda hills and the city’s architecture to marvel at. From the gothic parliament building, castle turrets and something that looked like London’s Gherkin on its side, it was stunning and exactly what you need to make 26.2 miles fly past.
Except the race was marked in kilometres, which made for what seemed like a much longer experience. Kilometre makings are a great thing when a race is going well and it feels like the distance is ticking by nicely. But after about 30 kilometres they really started to drag. Not even the scenery swathed in glorious sunshine, frequent water stops and support from locals and tourists could detract from the fact that running on concrete felt tougher than the softer trails of my previous marathons and ultras.
But come 42 and a bit kilometres and passing under a sign which read ‘you are all heroes!’ (cue emotional fighting back tears moment), I was pleased I’d dug deep and made it round in roughly my target time (3 hours, 31 minutes and seven seconds). A post-race goody bag full of local snacks and chocolate milk (how did they guess…?) and a trip to the local thermal baths was the icing on the cake. Soaking my tired legs and feet while drinking beer really was the perfect finish to a day which involves running a marathon. Whether it’s 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometres, you just can’t beat the atmosphere at a big city race. Budapest, you didn’t disappoint me at all.
Big thanks to the organisers of the Budapest marathon who gave me a complimentary place and put on a great race. Full e-race guide to follow.