I don’t mind a bit of rain or a bit of snow during my run, although I’m not a fan of cold weather since it gets harder for me to breathe and I get cold easily, but running during an amber weather warning…. that wasn’t easy…
The urban trail series is a series of 10 races throughout the year (10 different cities) where you don’t just run the streets of a city, you also run through several buildings! This series takes place in the Netherlands, but there is also a series of 8 races in Belgium and a series of 5 races in Germany. I’ve been intrigued by this concept for a while now, so I decided to enter the one in Eindhoven.
So why did I go outside when there was an amber weather warning? Well, I decided to wait until the morning of the race to make my decision. They had predicted snow during the night, but when I woke up there wasn’t any snow at all. So, I decided to go. It would still be cold (around freezing), thus, I decided to wear 3 layers: base, running top and running jacket.
Since there wasn’t any snow it was easy to get to the start of the race, which was in a central location in the city. There were around 2500 participants, but it is a fun run so there is no chip time. I was surprised to see that despite the weather warnings most of the runners did show up.
I was in wave 4 out of 5 and by the time I was outside waiting for the race to start it started snowing a bit. It was cold waiting around outside, especially since I had to wait for around 15 from the start of my wave until I could cross the line, since they were letting only 20 or so runners through at a time.
The course went through a small shopping mall, casino, sports store, electronics store, supermarket, art gallery, stadium, restaurants, cafe, school, newspaper, city hall, running store, music hall and an office. Obviously not all of these were connected, you had to go in and out again and then run to the next building. The race would be around 10k.
Now, this all sounds like a lot of fun, and in theory it is, but not so much when it’s heavily snowing outside, you can hardly see a thing through the snow that’s flying in your face the entire time, it’s freezing, you’re getting soaking wet after a while and it’s quite slippery everywhere. Oh, and all these buildings had lots of stairs. I think there were at least 30 stairs involved in all this.
So, even though I really like the concept, I wasn’t really enjoying myself. Well ok, I was enjoying myself for about the first 2k, after that…. not so much. I had a lot of trouble breathing because the air outside was freezing, but you kept going inside where it was warm and then going outside again where it was freezing and you got covered in snow. The problem with snow is, it sticks to your clothes and slowly melts and seeps into your clothes. So pretty soon all three layers were soaked, my gloves were soaked and my beanie was soaked too.
But apart from the terrible weather and maybe a bit too many stairs, the organisation and especially the volunteers were great! There were signs everywhere, so even if I couldn’t see a runner in front of me, I could just follow the signs. There were marshals at busy crossings and there were always volunteers within the buildings to point the way. All of these volunteers were true heroes, because they were willing to stand there on a Sunday morning in the freezing cold and snow!
Another issue was the distance of the race. It appears to be longer than 10k. Now, since it’s not a timed race this isn’t that big of a deal. However, if you’re not really enjoying yourself that much and you think you’re about half way only to be told by the signs you’ve just done 3k, is rather frustrating. As far as I can tell the race was at least 11k long, but it’s hard to say exactly since my Garmin watch had difficulty measuring the distance inside the buildings. It seemed to me that the organisation had only measured the distance between the building, which probably roughly added up to 10k, but didn’t take into account the amount of running inside the buildings.
After the run you get a medal and since the race is sponsored by a supermarket chain, you also get some breakfast consisting of something to drink, an apple, a candy bar and a bun.
By the time I finished the race there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground, compared to basically nothing when I started the race. All in all in took me 01:34:11 to complete the 11k. Also because it was slippery in some places, so I had to walk rather than run. The snow meant I had some trouble getting home after the race, but I got there eventually. Would I do it again? Yes, I would like to try it again to see if I could really enjoy an urban trail during better weather. This could be a great way of exploring a new city. But I wouldn’t race again during an amber weather warning.