Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 139, March 2021 | Page 24

MANN the running mann by STUART MANN


MANN the running mann by STUART MANN

Looking for Hills in Holland

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown , I have not been able to get my usual marathoning and travel fix in for a while , but I do have some great memories of races in years gone by . So , until we can race again , you ’ ll have to make do with me taking running trips down memory lane , and this month , I ’ m revisiting my notes from three work trips to the Netherlands that all included a great marathon experience .

Warming Up in Leiden

Probably the smallest pair of shorts the Running Mann could squeeze into
Leiden Marathon , 18 June 2006
Lure of a Leiden Lager
Leiden was given city rights all the way back in 1266 , was the site of the first university in the Netherlands in 1575 , and was the birthplace of Rembrandt van Rijn in 1606 . It is still very much a university town , and despite only having a population of around 125,000 , the crowd support along the route was fantastic . Ironically , considering the heat in which we ran , Leiden was once known as “ The Coldest Place on Earth ,” thanks to the efforts of Heike Kamerlingh Onnes , the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in physics . He was the first person to liquefy helium , and subsequently managed to reach a temperature of less than one degree above absolute zero in his cryogenics laboratory .
I was surprised to find that the race was a double-lapper , but not surprised that most of the participants opted for just one lap . With two kilometres to go of the first lap , as the route re-enters the town , I made a mental note of the very vibrant beer garden marking this milestone . I told myself that I was only running 40km today , and promised my parched body a tall draught beer whilst I completed a twokilometre walk to the finish when I made it back to that point again .
I was obviously not as tough in those days , because that was the only beer I could stomach . The after-effect of the intense heat resulted in my beer-drinking activities being curtailed for several hours after the race … largely for fear of finding out what a partially processed sesame seed bagel with smoked chicken , avocado and basil pesto looks like after running a marathon !
Post-race ‘ streak ’
I was staying at the Schiphol Airport Hilton , and following a 20-minute post-race train ride north , I needed to make my way from the station platform though the airport in order to access the hotel . From the race photos , you may have noticed that I was wearing very small and rather revealing South African flag Polly Shorts .
Surviving the heat in Leiden

If you ever want to run at marathon in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of summer , then the Leiden Marathon in South Holland is the one to do . European summers can be something of an oxymoron , but the organisers managed to time the 2006 edition of the race to be run in the middle of a genuine heat wave . Fifteen years later and I can still vividly remember the fourand-a-bit hours I spent slogging it out in the sweltering mid-30s , and this is still the hottest of the 241 marathons I ’ ve run ( to date ), even beating out the Two Countries Marathon in Musina for the honour !

You can ’ t control the weather , but you can control your diet . With a 12:15pm starting time , I knew it would be a challenge to get my sensitive disposition tuned into running a lunchtime marathon . After registration inside a huge ancient church , I felt a little peckish ( even though I had had a hearty breakfast ) and found a café to satisfy my appetite . If anyone is wondering , a sesame seed bagel with smoked chicken , avocado and basil pesto is definitely not the secret formula to running a good marathon …
Images : Martin Mulder , Courtesy Stuart Mann
24 ISSUE 139 MARCH 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za