Thursday, January 27, 2011

Racing Awards

Here are "awards" for races that I have run:

1. Most Fun Atmosphere: The Neumarkter Stadtlauf (Neumarkt City Run) 10.5 km and half-marathon runs. Before the run there is lots of music and crowd support. The announcers get excited and that carries over to the runners. After the race it's like a big street fest with music, refreshments, and a good crowd. One of the things that I miss about living in Parsberg was running Neumarkt. Every one of my friends who ran Neumarkt also enjoyed it.

2. Most Scenic Course: The San Diego Half-Marathon, which was held in Carlsbad, CA when I ran it in 1991, went along the Pacific Ocean. There were nice ocean views going out and back. For those who prefer greenery, 18 of the 21.1 kilometers of the Muenchener Stadtlauf (Munich City Run) half-marathon are in the English Garden.

3. Most Varied Course: The Neumarkter Stadtlauf has everything: roads, dirt paths, grass, gravel paths, a wooden bridge, and even cobblestones.

4. Most Labyrinthine Course: The Munich Marathon from km 31 to about km 39. That's the part which goes through the Old City. Every time I've run that course, I felt like I was in the middle of a big maze because there are so many twists and turns. I just followed everyone else and hoped that they were all going the right way.

5. Hilliest Course: The San Dieguito Half-Marathon is 21.1 km of rolling hills. I don't think that there's a flat spot anywhere on the course. When I ran it back in 1992, I felt like I was either going uphill or downhill. The Garmisch Cross-Country Challenge 5K is also very hilly, though there are a couple of flat sections. The Eibsee Herbstlauf (Autumn Run) has a 350 meter climb and then about a 100 meter drop. The first uphill and last downhill sections are fairly steep. On the climbing sections, there are several long, grinding hills.

6. Best Crowd Support: The Neumarkter Stadtlauf and the Berlin Marathon had lots of people along the course to cheer on the runners. There were lots of people lining the streeets in the last kilometer to give a final energy boost to the tired runners.

7. Coldest Race: The Seubersdorf 9.6 km Silvesterlauf (New Year's Eve Run). When I ran it in 2002, it was just above freezing. At around the 8 km mark, it started to rain. There's nothing like freezing rain to motivate a runner to get to the finish line faster. When the freezing rain started to fall during that race, my first thought was, "Now I know why so many great runners come from the British Isles. They run in this all the time and want to finish their workouts as quickly as possible so they can get warm and dry." The race organizers served hot tea at the finish line. I usually don't drink tea after a race (tea at races is a German thing), but that time it really helped me to warm back up.

8. Hottest Race: Tie between the 2000 and 2001 Regensburg Half-Marathon and the 1992 America's Finest City Half-Marathon. When I ran those races, the weather was very hot and humid. Both of those courses had a lot of sun and very little shade. Fortunately, there were plenty of water/sports drink stops. It was also warm at the 2008 Munich Stadtlauf. But it didn't feel quite so hot because a lot of the race was in the shade.

9. Steepest Hill: The Seubersdorf Silvesterlauf. The last 500 meters of that race are all uphill. It's not a nice, gradual uphill, but a very steep one. Just when you think you're going to get a personal record because the rest of the course was flat, you hit the hill. It seems even steeper because it's at the very end of the race.

10. Most Ironic Sense of Humor: The final turn of the 1994 Berlin Marathon was at the 40 km mark. On the corner where the runners turned, there was a group of about 20 men from Denmark wearing "Music Man" style band uniforms. They were singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's "Life of Brian."

11. Most Personal Races: The Amberg Half-Marathon and Velburg Osterlauf (Easter Run) have small fields. As the runners approach the finish line, an announcer calls out their names and where they're from. All of the runners, from the winner to the last place finisher, have their names announced. Even if you finish at the back of the pack, you feel like a winner when you hear your name as you cross the finish line.

12. Best Finish: The Munich Marathon finishes in the Olympic Stadium. After running just under 42 km, the runners go through a tunnel to the Olympic Stadium track. There are colored lights flashing and music playing in the tunnel. Whenever I've gone through the tunnel (three times for the marathon and once for the half-marathon), I had a brief moment when I thought about how the marathon runners in the 1972 Olympics must have felt when they came through the tunnel and onto the track. I love the Olympic Stadium track. It's made of high-tech material that's very springy and feels heavenly after pounding the pavement for all of those kilometers. Every time I ran on it, I wished that the whole course was made of the same material as the track.

13. Best Post-Race Refreshments: The Neumarkter Stadtlauf hands down. The race organizers in Neumarkt have anything that a runner could want: fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, lemons), different types of rolls, cookies, cakes, pretzels, energy bars, water, sports drink, and tea. Those are all free. There are also booths set up where people can buy soup, sausages, beer, and sandwiches. The 1992 Rainforest Run 5K in San Diego gets a special mention. I don't remember the post-race refreshments there except for the ice cream. Ben and Jerry's was a sponsor and gave out free ice cream to the runners.

14. Best Prize Drawing:  The Eibsee Herbstlauf. One of the best things about the Eibsee race is the drawing after the award ceremony. Nobody goes home empty-handed. The three grand prizes are pairs of running shoes. There are other nice prizes like: T-shirts, technical clothing, special coffee mugs, discount coupons for the sport shop where one of the organizers works, and much more. The one year where I was able to stay for the prize drawing I won a high-quality pair of warm mittens and a calendar.

15. Best Post-Race Memory: The 2005 Hohenfels Box Run 10K, where the team that I was on won the team title. That was the year of my 1-2-3-4 finish: 1st place team, 2nd in my age group, 3rd woman overall, and 4th place member of my team. Getting individual awards in that race was nice, but winning the team title was even better. The year before, my team was 2nd place by 20 seconds. In 2005 every member of the team was determined to win the team competition. Charlie, Lee, Frank, Jack, and I all gave our best and carried our team to victory by a large margin. It was a real thrill to stand on the stage with my teammates, get a 1st place team medal, and hold the team trophy.

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