Despite being awake again at the ungodly hour of 7am, I was still the last one up, as Adam, Dave and Kerry had been up for breakfast by about 6am, so as to be in prime condition for running by the start time of 9am.
Fighting Will for the mirror in the apartment the next morning was a new experience and in my tired state I didn’t put up much of a battle. I now had less than 20 minutes to wake up, throw some clothes on and be out of the door.
We took a leisurely walk to the tube station only a couple of minutes away and made the two changes that finally delivered us to our destination along with the myriad of other neon and lycra-clad nutters (our plan had been to take the single tram to the start but, unsurprisingly they weren’t running on race day as the roads were closed.)
As we exited the station with the other masses, we were struck with their ominous music choices coming from the speakers!
We’d realised the night before that all three of them were going to be in separate pens, and that Adam was going to have to get there early and fight to the front of his, as he hadn’t been allocated the right place for his intended time. Before long, we bid adue to them and made our way to the start line.
Now, I have attended (far more than) my fair share of races, and this was my fourth marathon, but it was by far my favourite one for spectating.
I’ve never been so close to the start line- in London you aren’t even able to go with them to the start area. Likewise, they had set up impressive, complimentary viewing platforms right at the finish line.
A further two tubes took us to both the mid-way point and the finish (only a slight walk between them), in the museum quarter, where we made our base for the remainder of the race. We came across “Bellaria”, which looked innocuous from the outside, but once we stepped through the doors we realised how beautiful and grand it was: golden chandeliers, waiters in black tie, and plush red velvet décor.
This place was the very definition of ‘don’t trust a book by its cover’
I thought they weren’t going to let us in!
Another thing that puts Vienna at the very top of my list (so far) for spectator marathons is the fact that they had a brilliant phone app that allowed us to track the racers at least every 5k and therefore see if they were making good time and also when approximately we needed to make it to the different viewing points.
When Adam told me about this, I was sceptical to say the least: I knew how well phones worked at places like gigs or festivals- anywhere where a large group of people were congregated, so I was not convinced.
The truth is, it was amazing.
It gave me peace of mind, as Adam wasn’t taking his phone with him (he wasn’t having ANY extra weight slowing him down!) so was incontestable if anything went wrong, and made an event that by very definition isn’t very viewer-friendly, far more exciting as we watched to see if Adam could make up the 15 minute head start that Dave had on him.
My positive impression of the race continued when we saw two medics helping a man on the final straight- who was struggling- to cross the finish line. We also saw several helping another runner who wasn’t looking well and heard from Kerry of some who had made to check her out at one point when she wasn’t looking so great. This, to me, is the most important aspect of any race, and where you can tell the quality of the organisation. Safety measures and how quickly medics are able to respond to those in distress is paramount and, from what I saw, VCM ticked those boxes.
Aside from the wind, conditions were perfect and Adam managed to knock 20 minutes of his pb, dropping down to sub 3.20, and creeping ever closer to the ‘infamous’ 3.05 that automatically qualifies you to several prestigious marathons, including Boston and London.
Another positive element to the Vienna marathon is that it is a notoriously quick and flat course, which certainly worked in Adam’s favour. Ultimately, his incorrect placing did impact his time, as he ended up running another half a kilometre, just from having to weave around competitors, adding a potential three minutes to his time. Overall, we were all thrilled, with Dave achieving a sub-4 hours for his first marathon and Kerry a sub-5 hours for her first.
Before heading back to the apartment to clean off, Adam picked up a ‘slice’ of spinach and goats cheese pizza from one of the subway’s vendors. They were E3 for two HUGE slices- the ones we received were only luke warm, but still great value for money if you fancy a decent-sized snack or cheap lunch on-the-go.
Later that evening, Figlmüller rocked our world once again, and to boot, as we’d booked so far ahead we had no queue (we’d had to wait about 40 minutes in the stifling heat and heels last summer) and our large group (two marathon runners short) made our way down to the beautiful basement, which for the most part we had all to ourselves.
To drink I had sparkling wine and apricot (E6), which made for a mimosa-style medley with the rest going for beers all round. Despite not having eaten masses that day, I still couldn’t finish my incredible Emmentaler gebacken mit Sauce Tartare (Pan-fried Emmentaler cheese with tartare sauce- E9.5), Erdäpfel-Vogerlsalat mit steirischem Kernöl (Potato-field salad with Styrian pumpkin seed oil- E4.7) and Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancakes, icing sugar and a plum compote)- which was gutting having been anticipating a return trip for the previous six months or so! It did, however, mean that Adam could have extras, which as the only marathon finisher to make it, we couldn’t exactly begrudge.
With spirits high, when asked if we wanted a coffee or schnapps by our incredibly friendly waiter, we eagerly obliged and ordered the latter all round (E4). They’d have definitely warmed us up if we were cold, as the alcohol was like petrol! I opted for apricot (again), which others tipped as nicer than the pear- to me they both tasted like fire!
Regardless, it was another amazing meal and the restaurant remains one of my all-time favourites.
We finished the evening off with a drink outside Hard Rock (I wanted to see the Springsteen items that adorned the walls in there) and a sleepy few games of cards back at the apartment, ready for shooting off to Bratislava the next morning.