Augsburg Half Marathon Race Review

During our recent vacation to Munich, Bryan and I ran a half-marathon in Augsburg, Germany. Augsburg is about a 40 minute train ride northwest of Munich. We had originally considered running a half-marathon in Regensburg, Germany, but this city is much further from Munich and would have been tougher logistically speaking. Bryan and I were both excited at the prospect of running an international race – our first! The Augsburg Half Marathon did not disappoint. Also of note is that my brother, Aaron Morris, ran the entire half marathon by my side. Aaron does not marathon-train regularly, but he is very fit and strong. I was impressed and grateful to have him with me! Other members of our family (Mom, Dad, and my sister-in-law, Andrea) also came with us to the race to cheer us on. Andrea and Mom had even made a sign! The front said “Rogue Racers/Laufer aus Ohio (Runners from Ohio)” and then our names. The back said “Far A Long Long Way to Run”. We were all very grateful to have our family there with us (I should mention that we all had a 5 AM or earlier wake up call!). All in all, this was an experience of a lifetime!

Some more facts about the race:

  • The official race name was actually SportScheck Stadtlauf Augsburg. SportScheck was the store sponsor, “Stadtlauf” translates to “city running”.
  • Half Marathon = Halbmarathon in German
  • Concurrent with the half, there was also a 1.2 km kids’ run and a 10.5 km run (or walk). Bryan and I found it odd that the mid-distance offering was not a 10K run exactly.
  • This Augsburg race was actually the “city championship” of the Stadtlauf runs. Several different Stadtlauf runs were held in 20 different cities.
  • Half Marathon – 696 men and 245 women. I definitely noticed this gender disparity.
  • Winning Male Time – 1:13:21
  • Winning Female Time – 1:32:48
  • Weather for our race day – 68 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny, 64% humidity, 4 mph SE wind (i.e., not ideal for racers, but very ideal for spectators!)
  • Race Start Time – 9:30 AM
  • The race was chip-timed. I liked that the option was given to return the chip for a costs-savings. No bibs were given for the race. It was nice not to have to deal with this, but I guess this means less race photos, as those are usually sorted by bib number.

The Good/Bad/Funny!

  • During our time in Germany, Bryan developed a routine of having an “Apfelecken” every morning, which was basically a delicious apple pastry. He had one as breakfast on race day morning, and we joked that if he ran a PR race, we would have to find or bake Apfelecken for his U.S. races!

Questionable Style

  • What is with Europeans running in capri tights on a 60+ degree day? Does this confer some sort of advantage that we are not aware of?
  • We had thought it was a faux pas to wear race shirts on race day, but we were the only runners wearing different running shirts!

Running Fuel

  • Bryan, Aaron, and I did not have running fuel for this race (i.e., GU or the like). We figured we could rough it/use what was provided on the course.
  • Before the race, a random SportScheck person was handing out tablet packets (it was funny because she seemed to hand them out like hors d’oeuvres). Against my better judgment and probably because of peer pressure (all the Germans around me were popping these tablets), I ingested. I saw that the ingredients were dextrose and maltodextrin, which I knew are in GU, so I figured it would be OK. I think this tablet didn’t digest well though, because I could feel it coming back up at about mile 10. I wondered if it being in tablet form vs. gel/liquid made it not digest as well.

Other Observations

  • Weird to have a race measured in kilometers! My mind was certainly occupied with doing math during most of the race.
  • Medals were not gaudy. I always sort of like when the medals aren’t too flashy. Honestly I wouldn’t care if races didn’t even hand out medals… Another cost savings!
  • The race didn’t have any pacers. Not sure if that is a thing in Germany. They did have signs that indicated how to line up, but it didn’t seem like anyone followed these. I didn’t mind this with the race not being that big.
  • The course itself was very pretty! Through the old city for the first and last parts and then mostly on bike trails and by water. Some downsides were that most of the race was on limestone trail. This definitely slows you down – hard to get traction and spring off quickly. Also, at mile 11, we had to climb stairs! I said to Aaron at that point, “I can’t wait to hear Bryan’s reaction to this…” haha!
  • Only about 3 water stops, which could present a problem in the U.S., especially on such a hot day! After the race though, we reflected on how high American expectations are for everything though…
  • Decent spectators showing – we had no idea what they were saying though! Well, bits and pieces maybe. Schnell rennen (run fast!). Sehr schon (very nice!). Aaron and I did a lot of smiling and “Danke”-ing…
  • We laughed that the pre-race music is the same as in the states! AC/DC, Black Eyed Peas and the like…
    Alcohol-Frei bier after the race? Gross! Definitely don’t like beer after races, and especially not alcohol-free! We also thought it was a little odd that we were allowed to take 1 water but as much beer as possible after the race – haha!
  • I did like the post-race pretzels that were provided.
  • The race shirts were great! We really liked these.

Race Plan/Lessons Learned

Unlike Bryan, I set out to just run this race as part of my training plan for the Erie Marathon this fall. I had intended to run as a progressive. Aaron and I agreed to run 5 miles at a 9 minute mile pace, then 5 miles at an 8:30 mile pace, and then drop the hammer for last 3 miles. Well, we found that we were pretty spent by the time we got to 10 miles. Aaron said “not sure I can go much faster, Meg”, and I said “cool, that’s fine” – meanwhile thinking “thank GOD” because I wasn’t feeling too great myself. We ended up still progressing down in pace but not to the original goal. I was still happy with how it went! Our official finishing time was about 1:50. Surprisingly, there was another female American running, and she beat me! So, I was the 2nd American…oh well! Next time…