But it was tough.
Bernd Breugem, TENESO Austria’s MD was Team Captain and with ruthless Germanic efficiency (But Bernd is from Holland, Ed) he organised and starred in our Marathon relay team alongside Christoph Ludin from Germany, Eric de la Rochebrochard from France and our very own John Winter who represented GB. Karl Koeberl was also a very important part of the team and provided the much needed logistical and moral support.
Just after our quarterly TENESO Europe SE management meeting, The Vienna City Marathon was a great location to hold a team bonding exercise. In the programme notes we were encouraged to ‘reach for the stars’, to achieve our personal goals regardless of our own personal performance levels. Taking part in a big running event (There were over 40,000 entrants from across the globe) strengthens a person’s motivation. Having a good race makes you proud and that feeling is long lasting and carries over in daily life. Running can bring changes – for the body, health, confidence and your emotional world. I just wanted to finish
We met the night before to discuss team tactics. Having walked back from the city centre to the hotel where Eric walked faster than I ran, it was clear that having Eric run the last leg would be a late tactical change worth making. I was concerned about what I should eat the night before and Bernd so coldly reminded me that as I was only running 6kms he insisted it didn’t really matter. Great support eh?
On the day,
I was desperate not to pull any muscles so was shadowing a Davina McCall video in my hotel room doing my pre event warm up exercises. For the next 5 minutes I stretched every muscle in my body and felt good to go. Bernd had made his way across the city to the starting point and sent us a photograph to prove it. We were off.
One hour and 10 minutes later Bernd had completed the first leg in record time. “It was a bit slow at the beginning as all the runners from all the events had to all get across the bridge but after that I just kept going and I ran well” Bernd is an accomplished runner and it was his idea to enter a TENESO team into the event. Vienna is a wonderful city and the perfect stage as it is rightly considered by many to be the number one city for quality of life anywhere in the world. On the route you pass so many city highlights including The University, The Opera House & the City Hall that you can see why it was such a great event to participate in.
My turn. I had run a couple of half marathons in my youth but this was an altogether different type of challenge. Tim had given me good advice, “Start Slowly”. This was actually a lot easier than it seemed because everyone seemed to pass me, quite easily, including those who has started an hour earlier competing in the half and full marathons. But I managed to get into a steady rhythm and my lungs felt good. My focus was then on trying not to get tripped up on the tram lines and keep going. Christoph’s advice was also sound, “Find somebody who was running at your speed and let them act as your pacemaker” This was a tad harder as everyone was running far quicker than I was. It was also challenging because there did not appear to be any distance markers (There were but I just didn’t see them) so I wasn’t sure if I had completed 1km, 2km, 3km or worse, had somehow left the Relay Course and was running on the half marathon course instead; something that Bernd had warned us about the night before. But it was very motivating and cries of support from the crowd helped my motivation and with a brass, reggae and pop band playing on my section alone it gave the event a brilliant atmosphere and helped my soul. In the near distance there was a drinks station so I knew that I had broken the back of the run as this was, I remembered from Bernd’s detailed briefing the night before, about 5 km out from the start. I quenched my dry mouth and it then went downhill! Not me, but the course, so I decided to up the pace…from very slow to slow to see if I could help us beat the sub 4 hour time that we had set ourselves the night before. This actually back fired because I ended up pulling a muscle in my calf but I kept going and was full of smiles as I passed Tim at the 2nd handover point. I had made it. Shattered and exhausted but I had finished.
Christoph took over. As we walked out from the hotel to my starting point Christoph was explaining that he regularly ran Cross Country in Germany so his leggings helped protect him from any scratches from branches and leaves. But while I had started out in the relative cold of the morning, Christoph was now running in the spring sunshine that had risen to just under 20 degrees. While Christoph was on the course, Karl helped us navigate ‘the very easy to navigate’ Vienna Tube network so that we could all be at Stage 3 to welcome Christoph back
1 hour later, peering through the runners and the crowd (How do you pick out somebody with that many people altogether?) Christoph looked cool. At the finish I asked him, “How are you feeling? “ “Pretty good. I started out quite fast and was dragged along by my enthusiasm and by the other runners but I wished I had started more slowly. The heat was not good either. I really wanted to take my leggings off but I couldn’t really do that mid run” But Christoph finished in a great time and handed the baton over to Eric for the final leg
Eric was our team’s ringer. Modest by nature and a late entrant to the team, he had been promoted to run the last leg after his impressive walk home from the pub on Friday night. The observant of you will notice that Eric is running with Christoph’s shirt and vice versa. He was quickly nicknamed ‘The Gazelle’ and he duly strided off in double quick pace. No starting slowly for Eric then as he quickly joined the fast pace. While Eric was on the course, we all looked at the tube times fearful that he might get to the finish line before us. “It got a lot tougher towards the end and I wished that I too had started out a tad slower” Eric crossed the line at 4 hours and 6 minutes and 51 seconds. The TENESO Forerunners came 542th
Tim’s much younger team came in 6 minutes behind us and Team B, as they will now always be known, were seen ‘jumping for joy’ when they realised that they were only 1000 places behind us. It has to be said that both Tim and Sharon had very strong individual times but this was a team event. Perhaps, like Bernd, they should have concentrated more on the team’s baton changes rather than individual glory. Not that I am competitive in any way.
To put our efforts into perspective, in the men’s race Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya won with a personal best of 2:06:56. 2 hours quicker or nearly twice as fast! Nancy Kiprop, also from Kenya, broke the women’s course record by over a minute and a half in running 2:22:12.
The organisers were right, having a good race makes you feel proud and being part of a successful team even better. Bernd is already thinking about 2020 and has already suggested some great ideas including a snow trail run…but this will really be a tough act to follow.