|Stornoway running club....and guests!|
We arrived in Munich early evening and went to find the train to get us from the airport to our hotel. Most of us managed to get off at the right stop but the doors to the trains didn’t seem to allow for unsure hesitant tourists and so three of our party were swiftly whisked away, an amusing look of horror on their faces as they departed…. Fortunately, they managed to get off at the next stop and made their way back to where the rest of us were waiting on the platform. Our hotel being a little way out of the centre of Munich required a second train journey on the underground system so it was all aboard the next one that came along. Until the sudden realisation that it was going in exactly the wrong direction. Off we piled off at the next stop before boarded the next train that went back to where we had just come from. Happily, this game of musical trains finished right outside our hotel which was good as it was late by then and I was weary and so looking forward to my bed. It was not to be. The hotel had botched up our booking so it was another 45 minutes and 300 euros before we could finally get into our room. A quick beer and it was time to collapse into bed.
|Trying to find the right train|
The following morning we made our way to the Olympic Stadium where the marathon expo and race registration was. You go in the main door and are directed past a huge variety of stalls selling all manner of running related items and assorted tat as well as stalls advertising exciting looking races in European mountains (not to mention your clothes bag and race t-shirt pick up point) before you reach the number collection. Once you reach the number collection point you are directed past all those stalls again until you reach the clothes bag and race t-shirt pick up points which you had already passed earlier on your way to race number collection thus maximising your chances of making some form of purchase. Crafty work by the organisers. It worked though, I succumbed to a new fleecy winter top.*sigh*
Obviously 40 is a big group and as moving around Munich as a herd wasn’t practical a splinter group of Rob, Cath, Ivor, Simon and I decided to head into Munich city centre to get some lunch of traditional Bavarian fare of sausage and sauerkraut in the open victuals market. This did the job before Ivor, led us all on a tour of Munich.
Dinner that night
was much of the same type of Bavarian dishes. When you are racing in another
country food can often be a challenge, different foods, less than hygienic
practices etc can cause issues but Germany isn’t a country I would theses associate
problems with food with and so I didn’t realise it at the time but I was soon
going to find the meat and heavy stodge based diet exactly that challenge. The
traditional diet as far as I could work out appeared to be all meat, and very large
portions at that usually accompanied by a big heavy stodgy potato or dumpling
concoction. Don’t get me wrong, its lovely and very tasty and high quality but
I did struggle with the sheer quantity of meat, it is not something I eat in
great quantities at home and it made me feel heavy, bloated and sluggish at
times. There was a noticeable lack of green vegetables served up too. One night
I admitted defeat and had a salad – but even that had strips of pork thrown
into it. God knows how the vegetarians and vegans fared.
|Al Fresco dining at the victuals market|
|Tour guide Ivor|
|Ivor leading the tour|
|Pre-race dinner and beers|
After a fitful nights’ sleep (the hotel air conditioning had one setting which seemed to be about 35 deg C) it was race day. While the marathon and 10k runners had the usual early start the half marathoners had a far more leisurely 1.30pm start and so we made our way to our subway stop alongside other runners with no train related navigational incidents.
|Looking forward to the race guys...?|
|That'll be a "no" then!|
We started out in the suburbs somewhere and I settled into my pace as Simon, Ross and Rob disappeared into the distance. For the most part the course was wide, flat and the weather was cool so pretty ideal conditions all in all. Things got a little more interesting as we ran into the city centre with bands playing and spectators cheering and we started to catch up with the tail enders of the marathon race that had started earlier that morning being careful not to run into the back of any of them especially when they stopped for a wee walk. I started to feel a bit weary around 7 miles so for the first time ever in a road half marathon I took a gel. Yes, I know, it’s not wise to do something in a race that hasn’t been tried and tested in training however I got progressively faster towards the end of the race so I can only conclude it might have given me the sugar boost I needed. My guts also got progressively grumblier so I can also conclude it was a caffeine containing gel and as such I might have been better taking it nearer the end of the race.
It didn’t seem long until I reached the outskirts of the Olympic stadium and then had the magical experience of running through the tunnel on to the track. I guess that’s about the only time I will have a taster of what an Olympic athlete experiences. The tunnel was dark and had some sort of atmospheric lighting and smoke thing going on and you only hear the sound of your own footsteps and the those of the runners around you and then you burst out into the light and noise of the stadium. I expect it fell a little short of the full Olympic experience as the stadium wasn’t packed with spectators and they weren’t all cheering me on but still, it was fun.
|Running through the tunnel into the Olympic stadium|
|Crossing the finish line together...awww sweet!|
I couldn’t find the stand serving water and Lucozade or similar but quickly located the beer stall (my excuse and I’m sticking to it – and so were quite a few others by the looks of it). After locating our bags Simon went to get his medal engraved and then we met up with the other runners and then headed back to the hotel for showers, beers and the usual post-race festivities and more traditional Bavarian food.
|Celebrating with a post race dinner|
Ethel was celebrating her 80th Birthday on this trip with a 10k race and a surprise special award from the Western isles local authority for her services to her sport.
|I hope i can still run 10k races when im 80!|
The following morning people started to head home and we headed to our new hotel for the rest of the week. Packing was a wee bit of a struggle with an immense hangover and the air conditioning temperature at the hotel seeming to be increasing be the hour but once outside of the hotel into the cool air I felt a bit better and after the days’ activities of a sight seeing bus tour and another trip to a beer hall I was right as rain again. Norman, Murdo and Shona also stayed on for the week and did a different set of sight-seeing activities to the ones that we did including a trip to Salzberg which I was very jealous about. There is a lot to see and do in Munich and the surrounding area and a wee surf of the internet indicates that there is also a mountain marathon in the mountains of Bavaria not too far away….I wonder how to break the news to Simon….I suppose I could always use a trip to the Audi museum as an incentive.
|Team photo at the finish|
|A leisurely bus tour. The perfect activity for sore legs and a thumping hangover|
|The Olympic stadium|
|The view from the top of the tower. BMW world and the BMW museum below|
|View of the Olympic stadium from the tower|
|The very sombre memorial to the Dachau Concentration camp.|
|The crematoria at the Dachau concentration camp|
|The Eagles nest, Hitlers tea house at Bertesgarten in the Bavarian Alps|
|No trip to Munich would be complete without a visit to a traditional beer hall|
|1 litre Stein glasses. The large portions of food they serve you in the beer hall mean that its a struggle to drink too many of these without your stomach feeling as though its about to burst!|