Sunday, August 07, 2005

Race Report: 25K Bellheimer Summer Nights Run

On Saturday, August 6, 2005 I ran the Bellheimer 25K (15.5 miles) Summer Nights Run for the first time. Bellheim is located in the Rhineland-Pfalz area of Germany, approximately mid-way between the cities of Mannheim and Karlsruhe, and about 40 minutes from the Town of Stutensee where we live.

This year was the 22nd year that the event has been offered. As is typical during this time of year the event was offered in the evening, partially to beat the summer heat, and partially to allow the Bellheim Sports Club time for it’s members to set up for the approximately 1300 participants. The course is 100% flat, consisting of asphalt or concrete surfaced roads and bike paths. The first 5-6 kilometers wind through the streets of Bellheim.

The race was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., so we left about 4:45, as we wanted to pick up our friend Eva on the way to the race. Eva lives in Rulzheim, a neighboring town of Bellheim. As I expected to be running for up to 2 ½ hours, we invited Eva along to keep my wife company while I was gone.

We arrived ahead of schedule in Bellheim, about 5:35 p.m., which turned out to be quite positive as we found a parking place right next to the fest hall (luck!). After orienting ourselves I went over to the sports hall where the start packets were being passed out and received my number bib and a transponder.

The transponder is worn on the right wrist by each runner and past over a scanner as we cross the finish line. At first the Velcro strap holding the transponder felt a bit awkward, but after awhile I forgot it was there. As this was my first time racing in Bellheim, I elected to purchase the bright orange T-shirt that was being offered by the club. In a lot of races the T-Shirt is included in the entrance fee, apparently this race costs more to organize, so was not included in the 8 Euro fee.

We made our way over to fest area where the ladies quickly found a cup of coffee and I a piece of cake. We sat and caught up with the latest news from Eva as we watched the other runners arrive. About a half hour before the race I made my way to the toilet for the last time and was relieved to see that I didn’t have to wait in a typical long line. From here I headed over to the start area and warmed up a bit.

About 10 minutes before the race I worked my way over to the Start. I noticed that there were a lot of people wearing T-Shirts from various marathons in Germany, obviously this run was not for the new runner, I humbly found a spot towards the rear of the group. I did notice a number of familiar faces, people I have seen at various running events. This race had a time limit of 2 ½ hours, however participants had to complete the first 12K (7.5M) in 1 hour 15 minutes and the first 19K (11.8M) in 2 hours. According to the race description anyone who didn’t meet these goals would be removed from the race. I don’t know if they actually did this or not. My race goal was a 5:45/K (9:15/M) pace, which would bring me back in just under 2 ½ hours.

Promptly at 7:30 p.m. the race began, I tiptoed slowly forward passing the Start line about 20 seconds after the official starting time, not bad considering the amount of runners. I ran the first kilometer with a time of 5:40/K (9:07/M), the second kilometer in about 5:20/K (8:35/M) then gradually settled into a pace of about 5:30/K (8:51/M). Approximately the first 5.5K was through the town of Bellheim, it felt like the whole town was out supporting us, every street was lined with cheering people.

After leaving Bellheim we ran on the highway (closed for the race) to the neighboring town of Westheim. I latched onto a group of three that seemed to be going about the pace I wanted to. The two slightly taller males and the female were probably about 15 years younger than I, my strategy was that they would help me keep my pace up. The female runner seemed to have the most energy, she kept running ahead of her two companions.

At about the 7K point I had to stop and answer the call of nature – but I lost only about 20 seconds. I increased my pace slightly and after about 5-6 minutes succeeded in catching up with the threesome. Around the 9K point one of the guys broke off to answer his call of nature. We passed the 10K point with a time of about 53:45, which is a pace of 5:22/K (8:39/M). When I consider that the average pace for my record half-marathon was 5:23, I was doing pretty well!

Shortly after this came a service point, I grabbed a cup of water, but kept running. It was here that I lost the three I had been following, they stopped and walked through the station. I kept up the pace thinking they would probably catch up, but I never saw them again.

I passed the 12K point with a time of approximately 1:04:45, well under the required time. I was feeling really good, my pace was strong, still around 5:30/K (8:51/M). We ran through the town of Westheim, again the streets were filled with cheering fans, I guess we were the big event for the area. I think the weather had a big influence on the crowds An hour before the race it was dark and gray, looking like a serious storm would arrive at any minute, however shortly after the race started the clouds dissipated and the sun peeked out the last hour or two of daylight. Through our initial run through Bellheim I noticed at the local bank that the temperature was 22C/72F, pleasantly cool for this time of year. In any case the crowds were enjoying the weather and giving their support.

As I wound the last street out of Westheim, I latched onto two “around 50” dudes wearing matching belts with 4 little water bottles. They passed me really slowly and I decided to see if I could keep up with them. As we made our way out of town the sun was slowly sinking behind the distant mountains, kind of pretty really, wish I had remembered to bring my camera (yeah, forgot it again). As we headed down an open road to the next town (Lustadt) the “dudes” were complaining to each other that we were running against the wind. As near as I can figure the wind was coming from the southwest. Based on the map above Lustadt is almost due south of Westheim, so we had been feeling the wind effect for almost the whole way since leaving Bellheim.

We ran through Lustadt, passing a water station, I ran and drank at least getting some water in me without pouring it all over myself. The dudes ran through without drinking, I guess they had enough of their own with them. I was having an increasingly hard time keeping up with them, either they were speeding up or I was slowing down. It was somewhere around Lustadt that we passed the 15K point, I remember someone on the sidelines yelling “10 more to go.” By this time my calfs were getting a little tight, I evaluated whether I needed to slow down or not, but elected to keep up the pace.

I kept up with the dudes until the next town, Zeiskam, as I was leaving the town a car came out of nowhere (side street) right onto the road where we were racing. Unfortunately I had to move to the side and lost my stride. After beaming a few choice thoughts at the driver I tried to catch up to the dudes but they got a head start and were pouring it on. I glanced back and noticed that a police officer on a bicycle was dealing with the car that was blocking the raceway. All right, give em’ hell Harry!

The dudes most have gotten a second wind, they pulled way ahead of me. As it was getting dark by this time I was having trouble seeing my watch, so I finally just settled into a comfortable pace and stopped worrying about my time. We ran along a narrow road for a couple kilometers, finally turning left onto a bike path paralleling the main highway to Bellheim. I guessed right that we had about 4-5K to go so did my best to pick up the pace. My legs were getting a little tired, but I tried to shut these thoughts off – I tried to remember some of the cadences from my army days – they always help me maintain my pace.

Luckily this last path was along a smooth bike path, it was pretty dark outside, and whenever a car came from the opposite direction I was momentarily blinded from their headlights. I tried to look away whenever a car came, but it didn’t help much. Phooey!

It was along this stretch that we passed the 23K point, I remember a youngster passing out sponges yelling “2 more, you can do it” to everyone who passed by. A few minutes later I reached to outskirts of the Bellheim. According to the description of the race the last 1.5K were to be lighted by “torches”. I guess I was too slow, most of the torches had burned out and I had to pick my way carefully along a couple dark paths the first few hundred meters going into town. Finally I turned left onto a main street and passed the 24K marker, 1 kilometer to go! I did my best to pick up the pace, but was kind of pooped by this time. But as I hear the crowds ahead I broke into my interpretation of a sprint and round the last corner and onto the street towards the finish line. After what seemed like an eternity I past under the finish and ran my right arm by the scanner. I hit my stopwatch as a club members collected the transponder as I exited the finish shoot and was directed to the finish area. Grabbing a couple cups of sport drink I glanced at my watch, 2:15:15. Wow, good time!

My legs were tight and sore so I walked up and down the street for awhile, grabbing another sports drink than found a spot to stretch a little. I then made my way over to the fest area to join the ladies. Although sore, I was feeling remarkably good, no cramps or pain, overall very satisfied. I collected the car key, picked up my sports bag and head to the sport hall for a quick shower. After some food, a couple beers and some good conversation I finally let them drag me home. What a great summer’s night!

A few stat's:

Total number of finishers: 1333
Fastest male: 1:28:04 (1959)
Fastest female: 1:42:43 (1972)
Last male: 2:58:15 (1969)
Last female: 3:06:55 (1983)

My time: 2:15:08.
Overall placement: 888th out of 1333.
Age group placement (M45) 155th out of 203

It is interesting to note that the oldest male, 70 years old, beat me by 14 1/2 minutes. Urgh!

Well done Jack!! Sounds like a fun race! You surpassed your goal and felt strong at the end - successful race, I'd say!
Great race, Jack! You have the wildest races, Another one at night in the dark? I think I'd feel like heading to bed for that one. Cool that the town's folk were out for it. The belts in the "around 50" dudes sound like Fuel Belts. I wear mine for training but you'd think you wouldn't want to deal with them in a race. Maybe they have a super secret sports drink or something. They weren't wearing Nike's were they? ;)
Thanks, that was fun to read! I was totally thinking of that Bill Murray move, Stripes, when you talked about the army cadences. Wasn't it just like that, in the military? Just like Stripes? Awesome time and it sounds like a fun race!
I guess you could say "the oldest guy beat me by 14 minutes" or you could say "I beat my goal by 15 minutes!" WTG Jack!
Great Jack! You beat that cut-off easily with a good, strong pace throughout!
I get beat by 70 year olds all the time. I can't wait til I'm 70 and can do the
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?