On 20th October 2019 I took part in the Amsterdam Marathon. Just a week after Chicago Marathon (see blog review HERE), I still don’t feel like I’ve caught up with my sleep, and my body was still aching at the start. However, I know as soon as I get moving I’m fine. This is the second time I’ve paced Amsterdam Marathon, after pacing the sub 4 funbus last year (see blog review HERE). Today was my 52nd marathon, 61st towards the 100 marathon club. Amsterdam Marathon is the 81st event I have taken part in as an official pacer, and 25th marathon I have paced.
As always I got my kit ready the night before, a #flatlay helps me prepare mysef before the big day. I knew I would be wearing my new top on race day once I got to the start, but this is what I would wear there.
I met all the Amsterdam Marathon pacers before the start where we got ready and had a small brief. There were a couple of other English pacers with me this year, but on the whole it is a Dutch pacing team.
It was nice seeing Tim with me this year, whilst I would be pacing 4 hours, he was leading the 4:40 group. We made our way to the Olympic Stadium which was both the race start and finish.
It is a fantastic start, and great to see all the spectators filling up the stadium.
It is such a relaxed start. There are toilets in each waved start, this year the queue was bigger than last, but there are urinals so for a guy who just needs a wee, it is quick. I had forgotten how local this event is. We were told at the start there were 5.5k runners from UK. However, it is not as multicultural as events like Berlin. Unfortunately I don’t know Dutch, and the group is not as engaged as normal. I had 2 Dutch pacers with me, and I think a lot of English people came around me.
I gave a brief talk as I usually would, but it was much more brief, as only a few were engaged. Most came and asked me my target pace (which is in kilometres in Europe), and whether I would be running consistent pace. That is really all people need to know.
It is waved starts, and we got over the line after about 15 minutes. Straight away it felt more congested than last year, but I told everyone not to worry, and I just stuck with the pace, slowly buidling up. It then slowed, and all of a sudden we stopped, I mean completely stopped. There were roadworks which halved an already narrow section. Some runners were jumping over barriers to keep running, I couldn’t do this and leave my runners. Of course inside I was very worried, but this is where my job kicks in. So I started telling people not to worry, that we would make it up gradually and not to try and run around as would waste energy. We passed 1 km just over a minute behind target, this is not good. I told everyone I would make up the time slowly, 5 to 10 seconds a km to get is back in track.
It was congested for the first few km, then it eased off. Its always a bit narrow, but last year we were not delayed, the roadworks all over Amsterdam did impact the experience, and I’m glad I ran last year, otherwise I think I would have had a different view of the course. Because we were still congested I changed my target of 5k to be on track to 10k. At 5k, we were now 25 seconds behind target. Each km I told everyone how much behind were were, I was very vocal to try and fill everyone with confidence. We worked hard and at 10k we were about 3 second ahead of schedule, perfect.
The first 10k we are in the streets of Amsterdam, we then run around the river for about 20km, before heading back. The river section has far less crowd support, but it’s nice seeing the rural parts. Party boats and DJ in minis are present throughout.
There are also people with high powered water jets who do tricks flipping and all sorts in the water. I mosty ran with a large group of about 40 runners, and between the 3 pacers we had about 80 around us. I ran a lot with Dale who has ran Amsterdam many times.
It feels like a long run around the river, but when we get to the turn point it is 20km, and we know we are heading back.
At half way we still had a good group with us and many were still smiling. Dale was really engaging with everyone which was great, on the countdown he shouted “who wants to know” “we have x km to go”.
The km started to disappear quickly in the countdown, although there are more than miles, we go through them quicker. I had a lot of runners struggling today and I really pushed them to keep going. We lost some, kept some, and picked up others.
With a final push through the park we kept going. A fantastic flat course, that suffered today from a little congestion. The aid stations were every 2-3 km, with iso, bars, water (in paper cups) and bananas.
It’s a busy race, and a fantastic finish. We counted down from 1km and got everyone to get ahead of us. It is so rewarding to push someone who is struggling to then watch them run off, thn wait for a great big sweaty hug at the end. An Olympic Stadium to finish in and a traditional medal.
With an official time of 3:59:45 I’m very happy. It was a challenging start, but then a lovely run. I’m very talkative and try to be supportive, and I don’t get the same response here. Many appreciated the support and came to say thank you at the end, but the English language isn’t as prevalent here. It doesn’t matter though. Many came through at sub 4, there were smiles, there were sweaty hugs, there were PB’s and that’s what matters.
Next up is the main event for the year, New York Marathon, what are you running next?