October 16,2005 - Amsterdam Marathon

This past weekend Trent and I traveled to Amsterdam for some sight-seeing and then to watch the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday. Personally, I have had some great opportunities to see some big cities around the world, but Amsterdam has to be one of the most unique and craziest cities I have ever been to. On one hand, it has some outstanding culture and architecture (ie. The Van Gough Museum, Rembrandt Square, The Dam Cathedral and Vondel Park (like central park in NYC), and on the other hand, there is the Red Light District and the smell of marijuana near all the “Coffeeshops.” (Just to be clear- Coffeeshops are where you go to smoke weed, a café is where you go to have a coffee—obviously very easy to mix-up). With this being said, I never felt unsafe or was hassled – whether I was looking at a cathedral or walking around the Red Light District. I guess the big difference is just an open attitude: basically, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone or anything, the police turn a blind eye.

We were also able to take in the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday. Before this, we stayed with some Dutch runner friends in Heemskerk, right on the sea. We had to get up at 6:30AM to get our long-run in (90min of which ½ of it was in the total dark, along a moon-lit beach).

We then headed to Amsterdam and rented some bikes for the day to get around and watch the marathon. We were able to catch the runners at about four points, including the finish right in the Olympic stadium. Basically we were there to watch what most would say, the best distance runner ever: Haile Gebressalie of Ethiopia. He was running the second marathon of his life and many were predicting a world record. It was mind boggling to see him running so fast, while making it seem so easy. To put it into perspective, he went through the 10km mark in 29:40, still needing to run that 10km distance over three more times before the finish (a marathon is 42 km). In all of Canada last year only eight Canadian men were able to run just that 10km distance faster than 29:40. I figure in my current state of fitness, I could’ve ran with him for about 3km of his marathon pace…tops! At one point, we biked out to the far end of the course and we were able to bike beside him for about 1 ½ kilometers…a real thrill for all of us.

Anyway, he went out too hard through the first ½ of the marathon and end up dying a little bit, but still ran the 3rd fastest marathon in history. I don’t doubt he’ll get the marathon record soon—maybe the London Marathon this spring.-- sounds like another good road-trip!
























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