Date: 24.10.2021 Time: 1:15:30 Distance: 21.1km
The Müggelsee Half Marathon is a beautiful race. It’s a single lap of Müggelsee, which is a big lake on the outskirts of Berlin, surrounded by a forest. The race runs though the trees when they are at their most colourful and if the sun is shining the lake looks gorgeous. It’s a reasonably fast course, but for me the main draw is the beautiful scenery.
Having won the race the previous year, I was feeling prepared, I know the course and knew that I had been getting fitter over the last month.
The first 3km were along the bike path through the forest. We found ourselves in a nice group of six at the front of the race, featuring many of the usual suspects; myself, Andy, Matthias and Moritz, plus tow other guys I didn’t know.
At the 4km mark there was some confusion with the route. I think the real route should have been a 90° left turn -> 150m straight -> 180° turn -> straight for 1k. But either the 180° turn point wasn’t marked, or the lead bike missed the marking. Maybe there was meant to be another marshal there signalling where to turn, I’m not quite sure.
But the result of this confusion was that the leading six of us missed the 180° turn and hit a dead end 120m further down the road before turning around, adding around 240m to our distance. This had a varying level of effect on the rest of the runners. Those who were only a little way behind us did almost the same 240m extra, and those further back did a little less extra.
I do think it is a shame that there was a routing error in the race. There was a similar issue in the same event last year and their twin race, the Müggelturm Half, had a routing error in 2020 also. They are a really great pair of races, but I would like to see this problem being fixed moving forwards.
Anyway, after the route confusion the race was a little muddled for a while. The first 50-100 runners became very bunched and different groups formed. The lead group became eight people and we ran towards the north of the lake.
Given that I had won last year I was aiming for a good result again this year. Perhaps a win, but there is always a chance that someone fast turns up and then I don’t stand a chance. But after the 5km point it had become clear that none of the lead pack were significantly stronger than the rest of us. So at that point the real race began…
I knew that both Andy and Moritz easily have the capacity to outsprint me and Matthias had beaten me in the Müggelturm Half just a month before. There were then another four people in the lead group who I didn’t know anything about.
This left me in an situation I’m not very accustomed or comfortable with, of having to push the pace early in the race in an attempt to drop the rest of the lead pack even though I knew this would cause a slowdown in the last section of the race, and a slower finish time for us all.
But I figured with was worth the risk because I knew I’d have a problem if we were all together going into the final 3km.
So I got on the front of the group and tired to ramp the pace enough to steadily drop the other runners.
My plan didn’t work out as I’d hoped. I managed to drop all expect one of the other runners, but Jordan was running really strongly and simply stuck with me, regardless of how hard I pushed. I kept on pushing the pace but every time I put in a section that was a little faster than we’d done he seemed to get stronger and stronger. To be honest I was really surprised I’d be able to hold that pace for so long, I was running faster for longer than I’d expected to be able to do at the start.
At around the 19km point I decided on a change of tactic, given that I was clearly not going to be able to simply out-run Jordan over the next 2km. I intended to drop the pace slightly so that he would take the lead, I’d sit on his shoulder and then go for it in the final 500m.
Unfortunately this didn’t work either. No sooner had I decided on this plan than Jordan simply turned the tables and ran away from me. There was nothing I could do expect run as hard as I could and watch him move further and further away from me.
But it’s not over until the fat lady sings, so I tired my absolute hardest to catch, or at least not drop too far away from, Jordan. In the final 800m we both faced crippling issues. Jordan could feel a cramp coming on, so slowed enough for me to catch him up. I caught him but immediately my body decided I had pushed too hard and tried to vomit (thankfully I didn’t have anything in my stomach to throw up, but it still slowed me a lot).
We must have been quite a sight… having run the last 20km so strongly & smoothly we were both reduced to battling it out in the final 800m with one of us limping and one retching. Luckily for me, I was able to recover fairly quickly and was able to push on ahead to take the win.
It was a real rollercoaster of a race.