I’ve done a race during the Amsterdam Marathon 3 times before. I’ve done the half in 2016 and I did the 8-kilometer race in 2017 and 2018. I really like the vibe during this event and parts of the route are great, although you don’t always go through the city center of Amsterdam and get to see some of the more boring outskirts of the city as well.
Amsterdam Marathon has quite an international vibe, which I really like, with 130 nationalities taking part this year. A few years ago, they actually tried to get all the nationalities in the world and got quite far with it, I think they were only missing a few, but I guess since the pandemic that’s no longer an objective.
Since it’s a marathon event they have an expo, and you need to pick up your bib (and in some cases shirt) at the expo. I decided to go to Amsterdam on Friday and pick up my bib and shirt and also picked up a special edition pair of the Mizuno Wave Rider 26. Since Mizuno is one of the sponsors of the race they had a special Amsterdam Marathon edition of the shoe like they have every year and they have a big stand at the expo.
The marathon and the 8-kilometer race start early in the morning with the marathon departing at 9 am and the 8-kilometer starting around 09:45. The goal is to have all the 8-kilometer runners finish before the elite marathon runners enter the Olympic Stadium to complete their race. That means there is a 65-minute time limit. I guess that’s why it’s an 8 km race rather than a 10 km race because that would make it too difficult to get all the runners in before the elite finish.
I really like the 8-kilometer route, it goes through the Vondelpark and underneath the Rijksmuseum and ends in the Olympic Stadium. I remember the race to be pretty busy, but I don’t remember it as being as chaotic as this year. People had trouble finding the right corral and since they use the same ones for the 8 km and half later in the day, people weren’t sure if they were in the right location. And lots of runners still weren’t in the corrals when the race started, but the start is quite quick anyway for the 8 km race so that wasn’t that much of an issue.
But what I also noticed this year was the number of business runners that were hardly running or didn’t seem to plan on running at all. Some still had their backpacks with them and were just walking the whole way. I understand that companies give their employees free bibs, and that’s totally fine, but if you don’t want to run at all or haven’t trained at all, why still show up for the race? If you want to walk, there is a walking event the day before.
And I don’t mean you have to be a fast runner, I’m definitely not and I understand that some runners doing the 8 km might have started their running journeys quite recently and might decide to run-walk-run the race, and that’s totally fine. But if you have no way of making the 65-minute time limit and no desire to run at all, why would you start? Is it that people with free business entries don’t realize there is a time limit or don’t realize how long it will take them to complete the course? Or is it their companies putting some kind of pressure on them to do the race?
Anyway, the weather was good and after some people dodging I managed to finish in 01:01:39. Not my fastest, but given all the walkers on the course, I’ll take that and I still enjoyed the route. And even managed to spot Tanja running the marathon going the opposite way, which was a nice added bonus.
When I left the stadium to collect my bag I noticed they were taking participants off the course just before they entered the stadium because they didn’t make the cut-off, but what surprised me is that there were still a few volunteers handing them medals, even though they didn’t complete the full distance (because that includes around 250 meters inside the stadium), they hadn’t crossed the finish line inside the stadium and they didn’t make the cut-off. Is that just because otherwise they’d have medals left over? Well at least they aren’t throwing them away, so I guess that’s a good thing.
After that, I took the metro to cheer on the marathon runners at around the 26-kilometer point. Unfortunately, the app for tracking the runners wasn’t really working very well so I had to guess where they’d be and when they’d pass me. And I always find it surprisingly hard to pick people out of a crowd that is running past you. But luckily, I did get to see Linda and Tanja who were both running their first marathon.
Afterward, I headed back to the stadium to see off Stephie who was running her first half marathon. After which I went and sat inside the Stadium for a while to see some of the marathon runners finish their race. For some reason, it took a lot longer for the half marathon to start, because they only let a few runners through at a time. I’m not sure why, because they always have many half marathon runners and the route hasn’t changed for years, so they should be used to it (they have around 17.000 marathon runners, 17.000 half marathon runners and around 7.000-8.000 runners for the 8 km).
Another thing I noticed was the number of ambulances that I heard on the course, and I even saw a runner collapse about 30 meters before the finish line and they had to wheel him/her off the course. It was sunny and a bit warm, around 17 degrees in the afternoon, but you’d think people trained during the summer for this race, so they should be able to handle that. However, I did see a lot of runners quite warmly dressed and maybe some of them didn’t train as well since they might have had their bibs deferred during the pandemic and their lives or plans changed in the meantime, I’m not sure, I hope everyone is doing all right now anyway.
I went out to pick up some of my things but did make it back into the Stadium just in time to see Stephie finish, so that was good timing! And all in all, I did really enjoy the day. I like the vibe in the city, and I like the 8 km route and I’m glad I got to cheer on some of my friends during their races. And well done to all the runners, you all did amazing!
A big thank you to Mizuno for giving me the opportunity to race and providing me with a pair of the Wave Rider 26, review still to come.