SECO TACKLES THE DÜSSELDORF MARATHON
“What do you get when you mix a bunch of serious German athletes, enthusiastic Swedish runners, a French racing machine, a Danish road runner and a British crazy guy to top it off, and make them run together in a race? Sore muscles, broken records, and a lot fun!”
It all started somewhere in January this year when some German colleagues convinced me that it would be fun to join the race at the Düsseldorf Marathon. Seco Germany has participated there several times in the past and after a couple of years of not participating now was the year that we would participate again. We would run with a company team in the relay race, where teams of four people would complete the full marathon together. I was somewhat hesitant as I’d never been that fond of (longdistance) running, having been a volleyball player for most of my sports life. But in the end peer pressure prevailed and I caved… I would run one of the distances at the marathon.
While I was busy training and relearning how to run, the team in Erkrath was working on the planning of the race and ensuring that everything would go smoothly on race day. In total, we had five teams participating with four runners in each team. There was a large group of runners joining from Sweden as well. The route took the runners through the entire city, north of the city center, then back and across the Rhine and back again, with the final leg ending in Altstadt, the old part of the city. The route was split in four parts with the first two distances being the longer ones at 11.3 and 13.1 kilometers, and the last two legs being shorter at 8.6 and 9.2 kilometers. I ended up with the 9.2 kilometer leg as I wanted to impress my colleagues by not running the shortest distance, but at the same time didn’t dare to run one of the longer distances for the fear of not reaching the finishing line. The bonus, I later realized, was that I got to be the one to cross the finishing line for my team.
April 28 was the day when it was finally time to show off our athletic abilities at the Düsseldorf Marathon. We had lost several runners in the days leading up to the race, thanks to illness and SAS pilots striking, but we managed to keep all spots occupied due to some legends who would run multiple distances. Not me of course as I was more than happy to stick to my 9.2 kilometers.
As it was my first time participating in a race I was equal parts nervous and eager to start running. This resulted in me, and my wife and kids who I had dragged along, being at the changeover zone way too early. Thankfully, some colleagues were already there and we managed to fill the time talking about life, travel, work and of course the race and expectations of what was to come. It’s always great to spend time with some colleagues and talk about life and how things fit together in a non-work related environment. As the relay runners came in one by one, we started to prepare for our turn to run. The nervousness subsided and made room for calmness and focus. I passed the time by stretching a bit and was eager to get started. Our Danish roadrunner, I’ll refrain from using his name to protect his identity, had indicated before the race that he didn’t know whether he could finish as he had some trouble with his knees. But he would give everything to reach the finishing line and would find a way to inform me if he had to break. Though I didn’t get any text message that he had dropped out I started to worry whether he was going to make it. Finally, I was told that he had passed the 30 kilometer marker and would be coming soon. By that point I was one of the last people left in the change zone, along with a few desperate strugglers. But as luck would have it, our road runner came racing into view and passed the (metaphorical) baton over to me.
And I took off running. Literally. I’m serious. I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast in my life. That was, until my watch told me that I was racing at a pace I would never be able to keep up (4:36 min/km) let alone finishing my leg… Whoops! Of course, I spent a bit too much energy in that first kilometer (hitting the wall is not pretty) but I managed to salvage myself and keep a good pace for the following kilometers (slowing down to a more bearable 6 min/km). As I was rather late in the race, I missed some of the spectacles during the run… one of the band members on the first little stage I passed gave me a friendly “you’re too late!” with a big smile. But everywhere there was energy on the streets of the city. There were people on the streets relaxing, having fun and cheering on the runners - regardless if they were fast or slow. Even the parts where it was already deserted were special, as I have never seen Düsseldorf without loads of cars on the road. Now, I was running there with nearly nobody else on the road, and certainly no cars. As the kilometers passed by, I got into the rhythm of running (runner’s high anyone?) and pushed forward. I managed to pass my wife and kids twice as they had positioned themselves smartly, and managed to high five my daughter while passing, which gave a good boost of energy before closing in on the finishing line. And there I found the rest of the Seco Family, from our spectators to the colleagues who had run before me, cheering me on for the last few meters. And I finished, bringing home the last Seco team on the field.
We ended the day in a brewery nearby, celebrating with team photos and sharing our victory stories. From the highs (personal records broken) and the lows (the muscle ache and stiffness) to the team spirit. A big thanks goes out to the colleagues in the race, those who organized it, and those who came and supported us! It was legendary!
Go Team Seco!
Finishing times for the Seco teams:
- Duratomic 03:43:36
- Perfomax 03:45:40
- Jetstream 03:53:31
- Running Team Fagersta 04:29:11
- High Feed 04:45:41