On Saturday I ran in a "Women's Lauf" in Cologne, only 5k, but that was quite far enough.
I've done these runs before, in England, but there they are always promoted as sponsored runs, with all the proceeds going to breast cancer charities.
I ignorantly thought that this would be the same idea, the fact that it was for women only and the T-shirts being pink emphasised that in my little head.
We were never at any point encouraged to raise money for any charity and I have the feeling that all the proceeds from entrance fees and T-shirt purchases went straight into the coffers of the organisers. Sad eh? What a missed opportunity.
As to the day itself...it was hot...it was busy...it was also good fun.
My friend Marianne had suggested it months and months ago and we were four, we just needed a friend from Africa then we'd have had all the continents covered M joked, there was me, Natalia (Russia), Sing (Singapore) and Marianne (Mexico), but in total there were well over 6000 runners, I'd say "women" but as there were several men in drag* I wont.
The warm up session was a zumba class**, would have been better if we'd been closer to the stage then we could have seen what we should do with our legs - all we could see was the waist up! And then we had to find the starting line, or rather the queue to the starting line, which was when S and I lost M & N.
The route, once we eventually got through the starting gates, was reasonably scenic, along the Rhein (past many beer gardens, full of people relaxing in the summer sun) and past an entertaining oompa band, through a bottle neck, over the bridge, along the other bank of the Rhein, up some steps (didn't run up the steps - couldn't (and wouldn't have anyway) because everyone was walking up them) over another bridge, past the oompa band again and then looped back to the starting point. As we were going over the 2nd bridge we were trying to work out how much further there was, I'd seen the 1km marker but no others and S had seen none, she tried to convince me that there was less than 1km to go and then we went past the 4km sign. I was gutted. But I made it. Thanks to S, who is much younger and fitter than I am and is used to running considerably longer distances too, a couple of times along the course I told her to run ahead if she wanted to, but no, she said we'd stay together which was great, because I know I'd have walked that last 1km if she hadn't been there too!
The atmosphere during the afternoon was amazing, people clapping and cheering along the pavements, cars hooting and at one point an ICE was slowing down to come into the main station and sounded its horn (it was very, very loud, but then he was only a matter of metres away) and once we got through the finish line there were stalls with fresh fruit and water and even beer (hey, it's Germany***) but all I wanted to do was get home and showered.
Unfortunately this run has exacerbated a pre-existing foot problem of mine so now I'm limping around like a 60year old and wont be able to run for sometime!
* odd that, it's advertised as a women's race, presumably with the idea that women feel safer running with just other women...
** it's the latest fitness craze, although as M commented, Mexican women have been dancing like that for years and suddenly it's the next big thing.*** I think it was alcohol free beer, but we couldn't be bothered to queue, so I can't confirm that rumour!