Race 62b: Copenhagen Half Marathon, Copenhagen, Denmark, 16 September 2019

World records are great. They really are. However, they really do make it quite hard for me to find reasons to argue why my race wasn’t as brilliant as I might have otherwise wanted it to be. Cool weather: check. Flat: check. Really really flat: check. Oh well.

As it happens, I wasn’t actually particularly disappointed with my time: 1h21 is a few minutes off my PB, but this is the first proper race I’ve done in almost 6 months (as opposed to the previous rhythm of one every few weeks in the UK) so it was good just to be back to “proper race fitness”.

Pretty fast for guys running in bin bags

Having already “crossed off” Copenhagen from my list last year, I’ll not make this review too long or count towards the 80 runs. This and 70-hour work weeks mean that, if I don’t finish this before we land, it’ll never get done.

Streets of Copenhagen

So, the course: I think it oscillated by about 4 metres across the whole race with some reasonably gentle corners which obviously helps explain how Kamworor obliterated the half marathon world record (58’01”, a.k.a 2’45”/km average (!!)).

The weather: cool, some drizzle, slightly overcast, though windy. Not as bad as the gale-force winds of the previous day, but enough to be a pain for tall people during races. I definitely understand now why “Copenhagen” stands for “to cope” (copen) and “hurricane” (hagen) in Danish…It doesn’t. But it should. For all intent and purposes, this was very much like being back in Scotland on one of those endless miserable Winter days. And Autumn days. And Spring. And some of the Summer.

Somewhere in the back.

The race: overall, it was very well organised, which you’d expect for a gold label event. Tons of fuelling stations, lots of marshals, really great support – one of the best races I’ve done for this, good freebie tops (though a bit of a thumbs down for blue tshirts for boys, pink for girls, but hey), free photos (such a rarity) and clearly a super-fast course. However. However.  I just can’t understand why, for such a big event with so many fast runners, their fastest “non-elite” category was sub 1h30. There were – quite literally – thousands of runners between 1h10 (elite cut-off) and 1h30 so it made the starting pen jumble a right frantic mess, and I had to use the best of my French-sharpened elbows to avoid getting shafted (I won).

My target was to try not to be too disappointed with my time which, broadly speaking, meant that anything over 1h24 would mean I’d be miffed. Anything under 1h20 would be exceptional. Anything around 1h22 would be OK. Such small margins. I was pretty sure that there’d be little chance of running a PB time (1h18) despite wearing the Nike Vaporfly Next% ‘cheat shoes’, so I targeted 1h20, which would mean 3’48” overall, or 19’00” flat per 5km.

One of many with bright green shoes. Nike’s marketing is very impressive.

My first 5k took 19’00”. My second 5k took 19’01”. So far, so very good! The legs felt like led but I was running okay, despite the hundreds of people overtaking me. For once, this wasn’t because I was slowing down mind you, it was just because so many much faster runners didn’t come out of the starting pen stampede as successfully as I did and were now making up for lost time.

The very very very very little mermaid

Knowing that I was still functioning okay despite not racing in so long gave me a bit of the needed confidence that I should be able, roughly speaking, to hold this pace out for a bit longer. At this stage, I would love to comment about which monuments we went past, but I really have no clue. There were lots of very nice-looking Danish buildings but not a scoobie what was what.

We didn’t go past the Little Mermaid – that is something that I’m sure of, though you wouldn’t have been able to see its gnome-sized body anyway even if we had.

The next 5k got a little slower: 19’20” and again a little slower for the next interval in 19’40”. Though even Kamworor could barely manage 13’55” for this last section, which says it all really. Right? Not really.

One last acceleration into the wind and that was me done: 1h21’09”, probably actually something like my sixth (I’d have to check) fastest half marathon in the end, so I was pretty happy, and certainly not disappointed.

It was good to have quite a few other friends who happened to be racing too, as it always adds a little bit of pre-race and post-race excitement. Lawrence in 71, Sean in 75, Tim in 75, Jack in 73, Peter in 1h25 (jogging), Katherine in 1h37 and Pippa, asthma-attack-affected, in 1h48. Most of them kept racing each other at downing pints after the race. True athletes.

And now my flight is landing. So I’ll need to stop before I can think of something witty. Until next time…

Free (yes, not €20/photo!) photos! Good work organisers!

Time: 1h21’09” (615th/22,809)




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