This was my 13th half marathon and the 1st edition of the Rotterdam Half, although not quite. There used to be a half in September in Rotterdam until about 13 years ago. They decided to revive that event, but to hold it in July. Now organizing a race at the end of July is obviously a bit of a risk when it comes to the weather, but the chances of having to cancel due to lockdowns and Covid are obviously quite small. But the main reason for doing it in July was that Rotterdam was the host of the Police and Fire Games, a kind of Olympics for police officers and firefighters from around the world and they decided to do a half as one of their events.
I’ve never done the full marathon in Rotterdam (something to do with the time limit), but I have done their 10.55 km race twice (which is also sort of an 11 km race to keep everyone confused) and I’ve also done their 4.2 km race twice. The start and finish of the half were a bit similar to that, but at the same time, they also changed the route.
There were about 5000 runners for the half and about 300 extra participants who were from the Police and Fire Games, which had their own wave near the front. About another 1000 runners for the 10K (that isn’t a 10K) and around 500 for the 5K event.
Since they assumed it would be hot in July they were smart enough to start the race at 9 in the morning. The only downside with that is that if you don’t live near Rotterdam there is no way for you to get there that early via public transport since it’s a Sunday and the trains don’t go that early.
That’s why I had booked a hotel the night before, but when I arrived in Rotterdam it was still packed with people celebrating the Summer Carnival and there was trash everywhere. Since the city was still so noisy with drunk people, I didn’t sleep too well and the air conditioning in my room wasn’t working properly, so the next morning I just decided to check out early and just head to the start area.
Saw lots of familiar faces before, during and after this race. Ran into Mark, Remco, Ingrid and Michael before the race and they happened to be in the same starting wave. The first few kilometers lead you towards the Kralingse Plas, and with this route you actually get to see the water and the views, rather than running on the parallel road behind the trees like you do in the marathon event.
I was definitely struggling the first 5 kilometers, due to the weather. Did get passed by Bianca, but couldn’t keep up since I was just struggling with the heat too much. At the start of the race, it was already quite warm, above 20 degrees, and cloudy, but also with a high humidity. So, the beginning definitely felt like I was producing a lot of heat that I couldn’t get rid of. Luckily it was cloudy and once in a while it would also drizzle a bit, but not really enough to actually cool you down.
After the Kralingse Plas you head towards the Van Brienenoordbrug. For some reason, the kilometer markers were really close together here around the 11, 12, and 13 kilometer marks and then got corrected again around the 14 kilometer mark. You pass underneath the bridge twice. On the way back there was a choir underneath the bridge, but by the time I passed, they had stopped singing.
You then run along the river towards the city center. The route goes on closed off car roads, bike lanes and tram tracks and sometimes switches between them. At this point the runners were spread out a lot more and there weren’t that many runners around me and there were hardly any spectators since those were probably still in bed with a hangover from the Summer Carnival.
When I got to 16 kilometers it started to actually rain, it didn’t last long and since the rain was also warm it didn’t cool you down right away, but after the rain had stopped it did help a bit. The last few kilometers I was struggling a bit with my energy. I was sipping my Tailwind during the race, but didn’t do that much carb loading beforehand. Before the race I was also unsure whether to put on sunglasses or a hat, since it would be cloudy and there was some chance it would rain. In the end I decided to leave both in my drop off bag, but in hindsight it probably would have been better for me to have worn a hat.
The last part towards the finish is on the Coolsingel and considering that the night before this was still packed with drunk people and a total mess, the city did do a good job of cleaning it up and getting the route ready for the half.
This was also one of the points where I got some negative comments shouted toward me (it did also happen towards the start of the race and to someone else who was in front of me around the 16 km mark). Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me during a race. Apparently, people (mostly spectators who’ve probably don’t run at all and not other runners, although in this case, I think they were runners who had already finished the race and were hanging around the finish area) see me, a pretty young and pretty fit looking person being slow or taking walking breaks and apparently they feel the need to express their negative opinions about this.
Obviously, everyone is allowed their opinions, but that doesn’t mean you always have to voice those, especially when you are not funny nor helpful. First off, there is nothing wrong with being slow. Second, you don’t know why they are being slow (and frankly, it’s not really any of your business either). If you don’t want to watch me be slow, then don’t watch. If you can’t be supportive, then don’t be a spectator. The only people who get to have comments are the race organizers, if it becomes very clear I’m not going to make the cut-off time and that wasn’t the case at all. I totally understand there have to be cut-off times, but I always check those before entering a race.
Anyway, not my fastest time, but considering the weather, it was not such a bad time either. Finished in 02:52:38 in the end. Probably could have been a couple minutes faster if it was not as warm and humid. But nice to see that the half is back in Rotterdam and I think the plan is to hold it in September again next year, so it might be a bit colder then.