Budapest Marathon

Stephanie and I have been traveling for a few weeks now, and we have been having a fantastic time.  I have been trying my best to prepare for the Budapest Marathon, but I will admit that I have only been able to squeeze in a handful of runs of 30 minutes or less.  I have also been fighting a bit of a cold ever since leaving home.  I think it is an understatement to say that I was going to be depending heavily on my experience and mental toughness to get through this one. 

On our first day in Budapest, we took a free walking tour and covered many of the main tourist attractions.  We started to get our bearings for the city and I was getting myself in the right mindset for the run. 

We were staying in a backpacker’s hostel, which was located right across the street from the Start/Finish area.  This made it really convenient for picking up my race kit as well as getting to and from on race day.  We checked out the pasta dinner, which was free for all participants, which included a free beer!  I chose to save the beer for post-race. 

I was feeling confident on race morning, with a plan to start out running at five minutes per kilometer pace and see how long I could hold on.  Shortly after the race started, I came across a fellow Canadian runner and we chatted for a bit as we ran.  He was traveling with his wife and the marathon was his last stop.  He had already spent a couple weeks in Croatia, which was supposed to be where we were headed next.  After a half hour of running together, I pulled ahead and continued on with my pace feeling quite comfortable. 

I was feeling really good until just before 30k, where I started to feel the consequences of not training properly.  I knew the last third of the race would be a struggle.  The sun was beaming down on us, and there were several long stretches of road ahead that didn’t help make things seem any easier. 

I ran solo for most of the second half of the race, and was finding it hard to keep motivated.  I kept taking walk breaks, but tried to run at least a kilometer before walking again.  I had to dig really deep in order to keep myself running all the way to the finish line.  I crossed the line in just over three hours and forty-five minutes; pretty close to the time it took for my first marathon back in 2005. 

It took me a few minutes to find Stephanie at our meeting point after the race.  She had been cleaning up on free give-a-ways from some of the race sponsors while I had been running.  We returned to the hostel so I could clean up and get into some dry clothes.  There were a couple other runners staying in our hostel, so of course we chatted a bit about the race. 

After a post-race snack and beer, Steph and I headed out across the street to check out the famous Hungarian Bath-houses, which were said to have healing waters.  We spent a couple hours in the baths before calling it a night and heading back to the hostel.

The next day, I was a little stiff and sore, but nothing too bad.  The pain of not training is usually worst while actually running.  Nothing can compare to the muscle damaged and recovery after some of the lengthier ultras I have done over the last couple years. 

Overall, I had a great experience at this race.  It would have been nice to be in a little better shape for it and run a better time, but there was nothing I could do at that point but try and enjoy the route.  The course offered a nice variety of sights, both in Buda and Pest, with an awesome start and finish at Hero’s Square. 

The pasta meal was included in the race fee, along with lots of goodies in the race-kit, not to mention the beer.  I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking to do a marathon in Eastern Europe.  It was really well organized.    

© Brian Groot 2020