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2012-10-07 09:00:00 GMT+01:00

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Sunday, 1 April 2012

RunningDutch Review: Rotterdam Marathon

logo and some of the elite runners
(source site Rotterdam marathon)
Within two weeks we will see another edition of one of the fastest marathons in the world: The Rotterdam Marathon.

The Location
Rotterdam is one of the bigger cities in the Netherlands but to international standards it is a relatively modest city with over 600.000 inhabitants. It has however one of the biggest ports of Europe if not in the world. The harbour once in the hart of the city is now located well outside the city and partly on artificial land build into the North sea. One can take a boat tour to see the harbour. The boats from Spido leave from the Erasmusbrug. Close to the bridge you can also find the maritime museum. Two nice excursions to relax the day before the marathon?

The city heart itself was destroyed in world war two so old parts of town are hard to find and mostly outside the centre. Instead along the river one can find modern office building. Dutch skyscrapers up to 100 meters high. It is close to Amsterdam and Schiphol airport. It has its own airport with several connection to various European cities.

The route: Fast, fast and ...eh....fast
The course map
The bridge packed with runners
shortly after the start 
The route is fast. Rotterdam ended first on the world ranking in 2009 and 2010 and the fastest marathon city after Berlin with its world record. The start and finish is in the heart of the city on the Coolsingel. A wide road leading up to the Erasmus Bridge and across the river Maas. The bridge is a modest climb and the after the wide roads leading up to the bridge somewhat narrow. Specially the turn at the other end of the bridge.

The marathon is popular. 2011 saw 24.000 participants. So even on the wide roads it can become crowded every now and then. A couple of years ago the organisation made the loop on the south bank a clockwise loop (instead of counter clockwise). Some of the less wide stretches now come after the 20k mark instead after 4 or 5k. This improved the flow a lot (I speak from personal experience on this point as I have run Rotterdam multiple times.
Another improvement is that another modest climb across the railroads which is now before the 5k mark instead of around the 20k mark.
The second time you pass the Erasmusbridge is after the 25k mark. This time you'll feel the climb probably more than the first time. After the bridge you have a twist and turn and a 'dive' trough a little tunnel heading towards the loop around the Kralingse Plas. Back towards the finish on the Coolsingel packed with spectators who will cheer you on.
Beside the bridge and the little tunnel the route is flat and packed with public. Only between 30 and 33k you are on your own as spectators are far and few between on this stretch.

It is a route laid out for record and personal bests if the weather cooperates. In 2007 the marathon was cancelled some 3 hours into the race due to the heat after several people were taken to hospital and tow received CPR. But this is an exception in April.


The organisation: Professional
The organisation of the marathon is run by Like2run also responsible for the CityPierCity run that I covered a few week ago and some smaller venues. The event is very well organised, the infrastructure around the start en finish area is OK, although dressing facilities are a couple of 100 meters away from the finish. On a colder April day this can mean you can get a little bit cold before you can change you wet running apparel. You'll get a plastic blanket after the finish line to stay warm.
The route (see above for more details) is free of cars and spectators, refreshing posts are with water and sports drinks at every 5k. No complaints on this front.


The entourage: OK
Don't run the marathon for sightseeing purposes. Beside the start and finish in the city centre and some of the architecture around the Erasmus and immediate area there are not that many interesting view.
The spectators make it definitely worth wile! Sometimes packed in rows, always cheering you on. Sometimes offering extra refreshments up to an orange or a cold beer. Realy fantastic.and according to the organization close to 1.000.000 people strong!

The verdict
OK, Rotterdam is no London, Berlin, New York, Rome or Paris as a city offering you very special views along the route. However the waterfront and some of the architecture is special. It is the very fast course and the great public that should persuade you to run Rotterdam and go for your best time ever!

Wanna read more on Rotterdam? Hit the Rotterdam label and see my otherpostings on Rotterdam.

Below a promotional film of the marathon:
   

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