During Christmas break I finally gathered to courage to sign up for my first marathon: Rotterdam Marathon. Ever since that day I’ve been trying to keep my long runs interesting. To do so I visit my hometown to run though the ‘Schoorlse Duinen’, and register for races like the half marathon of Egmond and the ‘Groet uit Schoorl run’.
When my brother-in-law suggested the ‘Dutch Coast Ultra by Night’ it was an offer I (obviously) couldn’t refuse. A race with a course completely on the beach sounded like a challenge; running that course by night just made it really interesting!
The course follows the beach from Den Helder to Petten (25km), Castricum (50km), IJmuiden (75km) or Zandvoort (100km). Since I’m still training for 42.2 km, I ‘only’ did 25 km.
The night of the run
The start was on Friday (January 22nd) at 10 pm, which unfortunately made me miss our weekly swim training with Swimfantastic. I decided to wear warm clothes and lots of layers, since it was rather cold the days before. During the run it proved unnecessary, but at least I wasn’t cold at any moment.
With a winter-proof outfit, a CamelBak with water, energy gels from Sportvoeding Triathlon, and – not unimportant – a headlight, I was ready to start running. The start signal was given with a confetti-gun at an imaginary start line; We were off! The group of around 100 (experienced ultra) runners soon fell apart and after about 5 km I could no longer see the lights of the leading group and only occasionally heard some footsteps behind me.
The first part was the most mentally challenging. I had to adjust to running in the dark and still had many kilometers of beach ahead of me. After a while, I managed to get into a flow and was able to keep a steady pace. When I passed the 20 km mark, blisters began developing on my feet and my legs were starting to feel heavy. My head light started to lose its strength, but the clouds that were present at the start of the race had now disappeared and the moonlight kept the sand in front of me visible.
I was a bit relieved to see two big sand dunes at the horizon; Petten was in sight! The finish was still a bit further than I anticipated, but once I was there, my mother was standing there dressed up as a Christmas tree/traffic-light. Best supporter ever!
At the finish, the organisation was waiting by a little bonfire and registering finish times manually. (Also the reason why me and the woman just behind me had the exact same time) Despite some stiff muscles and blisters I felt good and my watch even said I ran 26.2 km. After a short drive home, a warm shower, and some food I went to bed at 3 am feeling very satisfied! As a bonus, I finished as (shared) 1st women and 2nd overall!
Altogether it was a great new experience and an excellent and challenging training for my marathon this spring. Who knows, I might try the 50km next year…