Race Date: 29/10/2023
By: Brian Jenkins (with additions by Robert Hoffmann).
I was looking for an autumn marathon for some time, and I fancied doing one I had not done before. I was fairly flexible as to where, but ideally it would be somewhere fairly easy to get to.
Fellow Strider Robert Hoffmann said he was signed-up for the marathon local to his childhood home in Germany, he had never done it before, but he talked enthusiastically about it, which was enough to get me to look into it.
Yes, a big city marathon was exactly what I was looking for. Previous attempts at both London and Berlin Marathon ballots had been fruitless, and I have always enjoyed the crowd support at the bigger events. I did a marathon in Belgium in May (the Beer Lovers’ Marathon) which I really enjoyed, so casting the net a bit wider (and looking overseas) was particularly tempting.
After a short flight from Manchester I found myself in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, and after a short trip on a local train I found myself in Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof railway station, a relatively short walk away from the marathon start / finish lines.
The race expo is hosted at the Frankfurt Festhalle (Exhibition Centre) and provided the opportunity to pick-up race numbers, goody bags, timing chip (to be attached to a shoe), race merchandise and generally everything a runner would ever need (and quite a few things they probably wouldn’t). All this as well as many free alcohol-free beers as you can drink (courtesy of a race sponsor). The Hoff managed 11 of those beers.
The Hoff had already picked-up my race pack for me, so I had the luxury of just taking-in the atmosphere, perusing the stalls, enjoying the pasta party the day before the race and to admire the red carpeted indoor finish line.
Then on the day of the race we made our way to the Festhalle start line through the puddles formed by the deluge overnight.
There was to be a marathon, a marathon relay and a children’s “Minimarathon” to be run, and the runners made their way to the bag-drop in a huge room upstairs in the Festhalle (which provided a speedy service with very short queues). It was quite a family affair for the Hoff as his nephew and niece were to run the Minimarathon and his sister-in-law was to participate in the relay.
It was a short walk to the start line with the skyscrapers of Frankfurt forming the backdrop, the sky was overcast (but the rain had stopped) and with a cool gentle breeze (ideal running conditions). We made our way to the arch which marked the start line, in 6 waves. At the allotted time, my wave was sent on our way.
For the first 9 KMs the route snakes its way through the city centre and past the skyscrapers, with many parts having runners going in opposite directions (at different stages of their races).
At KM 13 the course crossed the River Main and into the Sachsenhausen district where the route follows the course of the south bank of the river, then back to the north side at about KM 24 and after a short loop in Höchst, the path heads back towards the finish, at this stage in my run, this is where the rain started and the puddles started growing.
At about KM 35 things start getting strangely familiar, passing my hotel and almost seeing the finish. Where you then must re-run some sections of the city centre to make up the marathon distance.
The route then returned to the Festhalle (and the finish) and immediately outside the building containing the finish line, there was a dip which the deluge had filled with fresh rainwater, we were already drenched so traipsing through this one last obstacle was no big issue.
The very last bit is the highlight of the race. As you enter the Festhalle itself, the lights are dimmed with the finish line itself brightly illuminated, with stands of cheering supporters on either side of the red carpet, and roaming spotlights and cheerleaders willing you on during those last steps.
With the race done we were then shepherded out of the building, squelching as we went, to pick up our medals and post-race refreshments (and the ubiquitous non-alcoholic beer). We were also provided with polythene rain ponchos (which came in very useful).
Generally, the race is fast, relatively flat, varied (but decidedly urban) and is well supported by the citizens of Frankfurt. Drink stations are plentiful throughout the course and provide cups of water, cold tea (a first for me, but I can now vouch for its effectiveness) and occasionally energy drinks, banana segments and energy gels.
The event village at the finish is a nightmare to navigate around, being (as it is) bisected by the running route (the only downside of note). Although the Hoff claimed that he did not have any problems finding his way around.
Both Striders in attendance achieved P.B.s.
The race was won by Brimin Kipkorir Misoi (Kenya) in 02:04:53 and Buzunesh Getachew Gudeta (Ethiopia) in 02:19:27, and 9,667 runners completed the (complete marathon) race.
The full results can be found at: