It was a good day for a marathon — maybe a little humid, but the temperatures were cool to start and the heavy rains of the previous week were gone, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Marathon yesterday.
It is a nice, small race — less than a thousand runners for the full and half marathons combined. The distinctly Bavarian theme starts with registration and parking at the Cannstatter Volksfest Verein German Club in Northeast Philadelphia and a short bus ride to the start in Pennypack Park.
The course itself runs along the Pennypack Creek on a shady asphalt path about 5.5 miles to a 2-mile lolly-pop loop mostly on a narrow, technical path up and down Mount Cuckoo — not a big hill, but the up and downhill just add to the rocks and roots and, after the rainy week, deep mud to make it difficult to pass and easy to tumble. I did manage to pass a couple of runners on my first traverse and avoided falling both times. After the loop the course doubles back to the start to finish the half marathon or make a quick U-turn (mere tantalizing steps away from the finish line) to repeat the course for the full marathon. No, I was not tempted.
The path along the creek sounds like it should be flat, but there are lots of short hills up and down along the bank to keep things interesting. The music at the start was traditional German, each water stop was staffed with dirndl-clad lasses and lederhosen-ed lads, and runners were serenaded by accordion just past mile 3.
All-in-all the course is really pretty and hard to believe it is entirely within the city. There are only two spots on the course where you run a few yards along a city street — all road crossings are underpasses like the photo below — almost like we were running through a German forest. And, at the end, back at the German club, a free beer was waiting.
The highlight for me yesterday was running for the first time as a Marathon Maniac, wearing the jersey, and meeting many more Maniacs. Unfortunately, I got to the start line too late to get in the “official” group Maniac photo, but the event photographer did take a shot of quite a few of us before the start, and I managed to get a shot of me with two 10-star Maniacs — Pascal Radley (left) and Steve “Thunder” Lee (right). Pascal has run well over 100 marathons and Steve is quickly closing in on 100. Another Maniac, Tracey (from NJ) Newenhouse completed her 100th marathon yesterday along with a large support contingent.
This was my 7th overall marathon and 4th so far this year. I took it easy and wasn’t trying for time, and it was probably a good thing. Although it started out cool enough, it was warm when I finished and the humidity was definitely a factor. Although I thought I managed my hydration and fueling well, I still slowed down in the last few miles and recorded my slowest time yet — 5:18. The good news is, even though my feet were sore last night and I didn’t get a chance to take a nap or soak in the tub (went out with friends last night, instead), today I feel as good as I have after any marathon — almost no lingering issues at all. Maybe it was because I took it easy, or maybe it was due to the excellent recovery beer after finishing.
Next Up: I’ll be doing a few shorter races — Media 5 Mile Race this coming Friday, the Broomall Firecracker 5K on the Fourth, then the Midnight Madness on July 20 as part of the Back on My Feet 20 in 24 event. But I have another marathon coming up on July 28 — the inaugural PA Grand Canyon Marathon in Wellsboro, PA. So I have a lot of races in the next several weeks. I hope I can maintain my training enough to be ready for the PA Grand Canyon Marathon although I won’t be worrying about my finish time for that one, either. Although it should be a bit cooler and less humid in the mountains, it will still be in the middle of the summer.
Teaser Alert: Expect a very interesting photo posted following the Media 5 Mile Race next week…