Bonn Marathon: 26 April 2009

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Pos arrow Name arrow Time arrow Cat arrow Club arrow Graded arrow Pace arrow
1 1 Karsten Buecker 3:06:06 V40 Serpentine 68.8% 7:06


One of many small-city marathons around Germany, this race in the former capital attracted about 1500 marathoners on the same day as London and Hamburg (including me, because my parents live nearby). Bonn isn't the continent's most vibrating centre, but it's a pleasant town, with several national museums including Beethoven's birthplace.

The general standard of runners was reasonably serious - the median time was below four hours, only a handful of people took over five hours, and although the weather was as warm as London, I don't think there were any hospitalisations. On the other hand, despite half a dozen Kenyans competing for the men's prize, the field looked extremely thin below 2:50. Winning times were 2:15M / 2:42W.

The marathon consists of two laps, up and down both sides of the river Rhine (there's a one-lap half-marathon taking place two hours earlier). Apart from a few minor ramps, the course is very flat and consists mostly of long straights. Roads were all car-free and spacious, with smooth tarmac, except for about a mile through the city centre on decent paving stones. There is a nice long stretch alongside the river, a leafy suburb, and a slightly yawning ex-government district (still, old villas beats industrial estates). Many people on forums complained that a cost-saving switch to a two-lap course had cut out some of the liveliest suburbs, but I found the laps psychologically quite comforting.

The one big problem I had were the drinks stations - only six per lap, and irregularly spaced, with the longest gap almost 5km. Also, all drinks (water, tea, red bull, lucozade-equivalent) were served in plastic cups. This setup appears to be the norm around Germany, but I really struggled to get enough liquid inside me. However the organisers did offer everyone the opportunity to supply your own drinks, which I would definitely take up next time.

There was quite a hullaballoo at the start and finish, but for most of the route the atmosphere was fairly relaxed, maybe similar to your local half-marathon. People were a bit baffled by my club top - "Ser-pen-ti-ne" is a hairpin bend in German; and the colours were interpreted as Spanish! Special treats at the finish included access to an indoor swimming pool, free drinks and pasta, and a free beer. Start, finish and expo are all slap-bang in the town centre by the market square: a nice place to soak in the sun afterwards.

If you can't be asked to sign up to London a year in advance, and are looking for a small-scale, well-organised race, I would certainly recommend this - provided you can cope with the drinks issue. PB definitely perfectly possible. Weather is likely to be marginally warmer than London.

Report by K Buecker

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