Hamburg Marathon as told by Ben Mayhew

Ben Mayhew 3Many of our Waverley Harriers took part in Spring marathons this year and we wanted to share some of the stories. One of these is from Ben Mayhew who ran the Hamburg marathon in an amazing time of 3 hours 22 minutes and 6 seconds. Here’s Ben’s story:

The Hamburg Marathon – Ben Mayhew

Completing a marathon a couple of years ago I got chatting to another runner who had collapsed next to me over the finish line. We were both exhausted having really struggled over the final few miles, and agreed neither of us would attempt this again. I’d been pleased to get around in just under 4 hours but, to be honest, hadn’t enjoyed the race and had no greater running ambitions beyond this.

I still had no plans to run a marathon again when, on moving to the area and looking to meet people, I joined Waverly Harriers. Going out regularly with a group and getting a few track sessions under my belt I was soon bitten by the running bug. Hearing others talk of ambitious plans for a spring marathon I decided to give it one more go and, having left it too late to get into Brighton or London, settled on the Hamburg marathon after reading how the course was flat and the crowds supportive.

It really helped being around other runners; getting advice about building up the miles gradually and not getting despondent after a bad run. The latter had been a big thing for me in the past where I’d fall into thinking my efforts were pointless, even a bit ridiculous, and running really wasn’t for me. This time though I’d simply put it down to tiredness, all part of the training process, and, as running was something I was enjoying more often than not, decide to keep going.

Fast forward to race day and I was feeling in pretty good shape, although a few stag and hen parties outside the hotel had done their best to keep me up the previous night. Starting nearer the front than I am used to and being surrounded by, what looked to me, proper athletes was a bit intimidating. This all faded once we got under way and I was running with others at a comfortable pace. The race itself is a bit of a blur and largely went to plan (although, after a quick toilet stop, I had to force open a stiff portaloo door and almost took out a runner coming by!). The course was, indeed, flat and the weather (10 degrees and drizzle) perfect for running. I kept waiting to ‘hit the wall’ and for the cramps I experienced on the previous marathon to return. I was still waiting on reaching 25 miles when the orchestra for Rocky the Musical, which happened to be in town, struck up with Eye of the Tiger. I know it’s cheesy, but it helped get just about everyone over the line with a smile.

Without wishing to further any stereotypes about German efficiency, the marathon was incredibly well organised. Despite there being nearly 20,000 runners not once, through registration to getting a shower at the end, was there a single queue. The crowds were great; with a healthy rivalry, among runners and supporters, between the Germans and the Danes from just over the border. You even got free beer at the end.


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