When in Copenhagen… go running!
In May, 13 harriers travelled to Copenhagen to run and watch the marathon.
Plans began last year when Kev and I worked out the Copenhagen marathon would be on his 30th birthday this year. We were wrong, it ended up being the week before but happily that didn't stop us!
We had a great mixed group of runners and supporters. The runners were: Hannah Brierley, Kev Foster, Richard Brierley, Chris March, Emma Elmerhebi, Craig Jones, Zulma Edmondson. We were also joined by a few non-harriers: Richard Wyers (Chorlton Runners), Paul 'Kermit' Murphy (unattached) and Andrew Brierley (unattached).
Providing the support team were Jen Delaney, Jill Guthrie, Gail Brierley, Tony Brierley, Sarah Donohoe and Jonny Lavery along with Andy's partner, Katharine, Richard W's partner Simon and Kev's family, Tony, Pauline and Nicola.
Sunday 13th May dawned bright and warm... VERY WARM! As we made our way to the start we knew it was going to be a tough, hot race. Some of us were not well prepared. A few had run good times at Manchester and partied a little too hard since, others had been blighted with injury or training had been derailed.
The course is a figure of 8 with the runners doing one of the loops twice. Although this means you have to repeat some of the course but the advantage is it keeps the race very central. Unlike a lot of marathons where you find yourself running through deserted industrial estates the whole of the race was within the central Copenhagen area. It's also excellent for spectators who can move around to lots of crossing points and see your runners a number of times.
Having got a PB at the Manchester marathon and done nothing but booze since, I planned to run the race conservatively and try to enjoy it. (Is there such a thing as enjoying a marathon?) Andy and I decided to stick together and resolved to set out at 3.35 pace.
Within 8 miles it was obvious we were not going to maintain that pace and we eased off, trying to run comfortably and enjoying the support from our fabulous friends and the people of Copenhagen. Great weather and central location meant lots of support.
At 14 miles Andy started to slow down. I eased off to stay with him and we were rewarded with seeing Mum and Dad a couple of miles later. After we passed Mum and Dad I heard them cheering for Zulma so I knew she wasn't far behind. Sure enough, just after 16 miles Zulma passed us. She called to me it was feeling easy and I replied she was doing it right then!
We then hit the party bridge (I don't know what it's actually called) which was MEGA! Flares, people cheering, loud music – it was mental. Apparently, we are assured by Craig, Rick, Andrew and Katharine who stayed nearby, this is a famous bridge in Copenhagen where there is always a party. We weren't convinced when they took us back and we were just the sad Brits drinking tins, alone, on a bridge. But I can confirm the party was there during the marathon!
At 20 miles we hit the Faelledparken for the second time. Despite throwing a cup of water over myself at every water stop, I felt hot, horrible and exhausted. Everyone in the park looked like they were having an amazing time drinking, eating ice creams and enjoying the sun and I just wanted to join them. I stopped to walk at the next water stop and ushered Andy on his way as I didn't want to hold him back.
The next few miles were tough; I stopped and walked at each water stop grabbing as many orange segments as I could along the way (love this about European marathons, why don't they do this at home?) but just before 24 miles I started to feel better. I knew I'd cracked it, I would get back. Shortly after, I caught up with Andy who had hit the wall. I thought about staying with him but I couldn't - sorry bro, I just had to get to the end at that point!
The last mile we crossed over the river and suddenly I was met by a wall of cheering people willing all the runners to the finish line. I made it in 3:45:02. A couple of minutes later Kermit arrived. He had set out at a really good pace but a knee injury got to him at the end. Andy crossed the line a few minutes later.
All in all, we had some good performance in some very tough conditions. Craig bagged another sub 2:50 making it look easy as always, Rick sneaked under 3:10, Kev and Chris supported each other to 3:20, Emma battled through to 4:25 and Richard W completed his first ever marathon in 5:15:57.
A special mention has to go to Zulma who absolutely smashed it. She has trained really hard and consistently and was rewarded on the day with an amazing first marathon time of 3:39:05. Not only a first marathon but also a Boston Qualifier – surely a shoe-in for the Benidorm trophy next year?
We were greeted at the finish with beer and snacks from our supporters and spent the next few hours enjoying the sun, the atmosphere and the well-deserved beers. In true Harriers style, we partied hard that evening... but the less said about that the better!
All in all, a fab weekend in a brilliant city. If anyone wants to go back, Jonny is threatening to move there or at least do the marathon next year.
We're thinking about our next adventure, if you've got any suggestions – just let us know!
— Hannah Brierley