This time I returned to take part in my first 'foreign' Marathon as I ran all 29 of them so far in Ireland. This was also to be a bit of a celebratory race as I had completed my 12 Marathons in 12 Months challenge for Gorta Self Help Africa 2 weeks ago in Tullaroan and 3 months early. I have decided to keep running Marathons this year for the Charity to keep the funds they need coming in. And Brussels was the first of those.
The place for registration on Saturday and race start on Sunday is a spectacular building called the 'Cinquantenaire' in the 'Jubelpark'. It was built to commemorate Belgium's 50th Anniversary of it's Independence.
Cinquantenaire in JubelPark is the start place.
The race is littered with 16th to 18th century buildings, runs through the Grand Place, tree covered Avenues and beautiful parks such as the 'Ter Kameren Bos' and 'Park van Tervuren'. It is a truly stunning course.
Brussels Grand Place is at Mile 25.5!
Another great plus of this Marathon is the military style organisation. I could not find fault with anything. I did not use the baggage drop so can't vouch for that but the rest was very well organised and marshalled. No queues for anything. Very friendly and efficient registration. Plenty of toilets on the course and 15 water stations with water, energy drinks, gels, bananas and figs. Excellent. And for the benefit of those who want to try it in coming years English is spoken by most in the organisation, including the volunteers.
The only thing I want to mention is the lack of support by the Brussels citizens. The course was virtually devoid of atmosphere and people except for some small pockets. And it affected the runners who were all very serious throughout the race. There was a lack of banter and fun. Or else I am simply spoilt with all the 'craic' and fun at Irish Marathons :)
Personally I thoroughly enjoyed the race. It is quite undulating with some 1 & 2 mile long drags especially those at kms 18 to 20, a short hill at km 28, a drag at km 30 to 31 and a killer drag from km 35 to 38 that made quite a few people crack. I have discovered before these kind of courses are my favourites and the same happened yesterday.
After an even paced first 10K in the excellent company of 2 runners from Teignbridge Trotters from Devon, I decided to pick up the pace a bit and surprisingly I lasted through to the finish in my second fastest Marathon ever and fastest of the Challenge in 4h03m53. Funny thing is my PB is only 9 seconds less and I wasn't aware at any stage I was this close! Funny how my 13th in the same year was one of the fastest. More does mean stronger if you do it right!
So that's it! Number 13 done this year and 30 overall. Flying back to Dublin tomorrow morning and then on to Limerick by road. I am working on some big projects I love right now and will be busy straight through to next year!
Running wise October Bank Holiday Monday is a tradition in Marathon running in Ireland and it will be my 7th time taking part in Dublin Marathon. This is 21 days away and will be Number 14 of the Challenge for Gorta Self Help Africa. You can donate to the Challenge for Gorta Self Help Africa at http://www.mycharity.ie/event/patrick_mercies_12marathonsin12monthsin2015
Talk to you Friday for my next blog post!
Do what you love on purpose with purpose!!