Report by Richard Slack on his customary Easter European half marathon trip.
Following Vienna and Berlin, Budapest was this year’s Easter destination. I was last in this beautiful city in 1991, just after the collapse of communism in 1989, so was looking forward to a run around it.
The half marathon forms part of a weekend of running and took place on the Sunday, with a relatively small field of around 7,000 runners. After mega crowded half marathons this was very welcome with ease of number pick up, orderly start zones and plenty of space during the race and also meeting up at the end by the finish gates.
The Sunday dawned bright with blue sky and sunshine. We made our way for the 10am start arriving at Heroes Square and the People’s Park around 9am for the bag drop. Whiling away an hour we made our way to respective start zones. The run itself first follows the length of Andrassy Utca, a wide boulevard, and notably a Unesco world heritage site, running from Heroes Square down towards the river Danube. On reaching the river we crossed over the Chain Bridge and onto the Buda side, marking the first 5km. There followed a run along the river past the National Gallery and the elevated Castle district before a loop back around to run back towards the Chain Bridge.
The run along the Buda side river was stunning with superb views of the Parliament on the Pest side. However, there’s not much shade running along a wide riverbank road in the late morning sunshine so energy levels were somewhat sapped. Indeed, just as I had started the switch back, I saw Marie who was feeling a bit out of sorts and having a real struggle between 10km and 15km. However after a stop and giving herself a good talking to she battled back, determined to keep going!
We re-crossed the Danube over the Liberty Bridge and following a run along the Pest side of the river, we headed back into the City at around the 15km mark. The route then passed St Stephen’s Basilica before heading back towards Heroes Square and the finish. The sun kept shining and then after 17km of running pretty much on the flat we had to go up an over a fly-over – not much of a hill granted but it was a an unwelcome test towards the end.
We met up at the finish area on what had been a beautiful run and despite the relatively low numbers, on fully closed roads throughout with six refreshment/water stops on route. The event was really well organized, well supported and at the same time very relaxed – a real pleasure to run. I was pleased with my final time of 1.48.47 although at one point had hoped for near to 1.45. Marie came though at 2.25 and whilst disappointed with the time was pleased to get round in one piece. Looking forward to keeping the sky blue flag proud and flying at our next European city in 2018.