A Dutch view on British sport

Thanks, Remco.

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Berlin post-script

Thank god it is over! Berlin was yet again a wonderful backdrop for the 35th marathon; with brilliant weather, excellent organisation, one million spectators, 60 bands and a new world record, what is not to like about an event like this?

My own race plan, or lack thereof, brilliantly thought out en route, consisted of tagging on to a fast, unsuspecting Swede, who ploughed his way through the runners ahead at breakneck pace, along with my brother. He did probably wonder why his shadows were a) multiple; b) blue, red, white, and black; and c) sweaty and huffing and puffing, but nevertheless he did not charge us for his services. At the outset, we thought we would stay somewhere in between the 3:15-3:30-hour ‘balloons’ (there are pacers running at a fixed speed, and they come with a big, orange balloon attached to them), but the Swede overtook the faster of them after a couple of minutes only.

Thinking and running like a terrier rather than a (clever) owl, I should probably have let go of the postman’s Swede’s leg a bit earlier, but at the 30-kilometre-mark I started to feel a bit like a snowman in late July. So, for lack of legs to keep up with Eeeemil, my next ‘strategy’ centred on identifying the ‘weakest’ looking runners, getting behind them, and repeating, ad nauseum, the mantra: “If s/he can do it, so can you” (R.I.P. Scatman John). And, of course, even the 70-year-old-prosthesis-wearing-fibre-androids would outpace me in a matter of minutes.

My deep-felt gratitude goes out to the guy who at 38 kilometres shouted at me: “Christian, du musst laufen!” I do not know what he was sinking about, but the remark was spot on.

In conclusion, I would not recommend anyone to follow this ‘plan.’ In fact, in most cases, I think it is a jolly good idea to invest a few seconds of thought before doing silly stuff or, um, speaking in public.

Lastly, I think Murakami’s and Stuff White People Like’s thoughts are utterly brilliant and strangely complementary takes on the same topic; Murakami describes in clear, unassuming prose why running is as much an intellectual endeavour as a physical one, whereas Stuff White People Like had me chuckling about the ridiculousness of the whole thing (the comments make it even more hilarious).

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On choosing your own fights


Please, please, please.

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On running for a very long time

A great author, Haruki Murakami, writes an entire book about a fascinating albeit slightly geeky topic, ultra distance running – it is bound to be good.

Usually when I approach the end of a marathon, all I want to do is get it over with and finish the race as soon as possible. That’s all I can think of. But as I drew near the end of this ultramarathon, I wasn’t really thinking about this. The end of the race is just a temporary marker without much significance. It’s the same with our lives. Just because there’s an end doesn’t mean existence has meaning. An end point is simply set up as a temporary marker, or perhaps as an indirect metaphor for the fleeting nature of existence. It’s very philosophical – not that at this point I’m thinking how philosophical it is. I just vaguely experience this idea, not with words, but as a physical sensation.

Excerpt taken from here.

PS. It reminds me of the time I encountered a serial runner on a Dutch beach. Slightly proud of my training for the marathon, as one is during the honeymoon days, I told him, lungs in my mouth, I was preparing for a 42km run. As he gradually, i.e. as gradual as it gets over the course of 30 seconds, outpaced me, he managed to tell me that he was out on his 40km “Sunday jog” in preparation for a 200km race:

Me: How do you feel after a race like that?
Dutch runner: Dead.
Me: How do you prepare for it?
Dutch runner: You run. A lot.

And there he was, a mythical creature, gone with the wind…

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Summer Eights


This time of year everything fades into the background; when all the hours spent on the river and the erg must be converted into bumps; when eating becomes obsessive; when hundreds of students feel, for a few minutes only, that the universe revolves around them.

It is the feeling of listening to your own heartbeat as you count down the seconds to what will inevitably feel like a controlled demolition of your lungs, legs, arms, and back.

Luckily, ‘my’ boat is blessed with some very mean machines in the engine room and a skilled captain on the bridge.

It is, of course, pure pleasure.

Picture courtesy of Anu Dudhia.

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Blades in the water

Celebrating the outcome
Possibly the only thing that puts a smile on my face at 6am.

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My day in a few words

Torpids. Thank God for insurance.

PS. There is a reason why it is called a bumps race.

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Berlin Marathon – postscript

With my legs gradually returning to working order, it is time to conclude that running the Berlin Marathon was very worthwhile. Everyone in the group, including my mum, sister, step-dad, brother, auntie, uncle, and my cousin, made it through in style.

The historical city centre of Berlin and the million-strong crowd provided the perfect atmosphere for this very special race, which explains why, perhaps, Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie managed to set a new world record at 2:04:26. On the other hand, Gebrselassie ran his first marathon at age 15 in 2:48 – if anyone, this guy has managed to transgress the boundary between humans and phenomena in a very assertive manner. One day I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I was only 300 metres behind this legend (just before the start of the race, but let us not get into details).

What I find most fantastic, though, was the sheer enthusiasm of the crowd, who cheered for everyone, no matter the pace and level of fitness. For an amateur like me, it was unbelievable to feel the roar from the tribune when running through the ‘gates’ of Brandenburger Tor. Under normal circumstances, I would have given up/died/donated my body to science – especially the legs – many miles earlier, I am sure.

A great special thanks to those who made a donation to MSF. The link is open for another couple of weeks. I should clarify that everything goes to the charity, so when I say ‘please sponsor me’, you will not end up covering any of my expenses whatsoever – that is not why I set it up.

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What a difference a new pair of trainers make…


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Torpids 2006

Tomorrow is the big day. I have not felt like this since I was a little boy who could not sleep the night before basketball tournaments.

[Update day one] The women needed 5 strokes to bumb, we needed a couple of hundred metres, and the same goes for the men’s first. That is an incredibly good start. Pictures from the warm up.

[Update day three] Picture 1, picture 2, picture 3 – thanks, Anu. The Catz crews are doing better than we could ever have anticipated, all boats having bumped consecutively for three days in a row. Tomorrow is the last day, and it is going to be nerve wrecking.

[Update day four] And yet another over bump, adding to the mighty fine overall statistic. Anu’s pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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