Sunday, 22 January 2012

Nieuwjaarsrun, Oostende

Delayed from a few weeks ago (due to storms) this 7k/15k Nieuwjaarsrun  was one I'd been looking forwards to for a while.  Every event brings its own challenges and here it was the wind and the sand.

Blowing at over 25mph and gusting to who knows what, the first 8km were headlong into it excepting a few hundred metres of switchback.  That was hard enough on its own but the sand made for two lots of extra fun.

The first 3.5k were also on the beach and as an official slowcoach, I was near the back of the pack.  That meant that what may have been nicely packed wet sand for the first runners was a loose and shifting by the time I got to it.  The effort to move forwards makes me even more impressed by the people who do the Marathon des Sables.

Once we were off the beach and onto the promenade for kilometres 4 through 8, the wind really got going and blasted every exposed surface with sand.  As a contact lens wearer, I was really glad to have my sunglasses with me, not to ward off the sun but to reduce the amount of sand getting into my eyes.  It was very dark at this point and I was fully expecting stormy weather as at Spijkenisse in December.

The second half of the race was completely different.  The clouds blew away almost immediately and the sun reappeared.  We returned along paths through the dunes which were mostly sheltered from the following wind.

Alongside the route was part of the Atlantic Wall defences built during WWII to deter invasion.  Many of the guns and pill boxes were visible from the route and it was a sobering reminder of grim times in the past.

A really hard environment to run in but finishing, especially after yesterdays efforts, was immensely satisfying.  Over 700 people took part across the two distances and I met up with a few of the Brussels Runners Meetup group as an added bonus.