Hamburg Marathon 2015

Nachdem der Blog schon halb eingeschlafen ist, müsste ich mal wieder etwas nachschieben. Nach einem recht effizienten Wintertraining gab es eine recht ausgiebige Flaute. Allerdings habe ich mich relativ gut auf den diesjährigen Marathon in Hamburg vorbereitet. Das große Ziel war natürlich die persönliche Bestzeit zu knacken und auf jeden Fall unter 3:40h zu kommen.

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Wie auch schon im Vorjahr fuhr ich schon am Vortag nach Hamburg um stressfrei am Sonntag an den Start gehen zu können. Nach dem Abholen der Startunterlagen ist es natürlich das schlauste für ein bisschen Sightseeing durch die halbe Stadt zu laufen. Hier also ein paar Impressionen vom Messegelände, wo Start/Ziel/… des Marathons ist und der Speicherstadt.

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Dieses Graffiti beschreibt eigentlich meine Gedanken an den Folgetag ganz nett, ich musste etwas grinsen, da ich es in Zielnähe gesehen habe:

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Abends gab es eine nette Überraschung vom Hostel, in dem ich zu nächtigen gedachte:

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Ohne zu viel Schleichwerbung zu machen, aber Generator Hostel Hamburg: Ihr seid spitze!

Am nächsten Morgen dann auf dem Weg zum Start sah das Wetter nicht allzu überzeugend aus. Allerdings ist ein bedeckter Himmel bei moderaten Temperaturen eigentlich prima zum Laufen.

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[irgendwie war dann hier was mit Laufen…]

Und schwupp, 3:34h später (+ Zeit zum Duschen):

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Damit habe ich meine Bestzeit (war der dritte Marathon) um zusätzliche acht Minuten verbessert! Eigentlich müsste ja beim Nächsten dann die 3.5h Grenze fallen? Mal schauen…

Natürlich nimmt man nach einem Marathon nicht die Bahn zurück zum Hotel, sondern spaziert gemütlich zurück (im Regen!!!)

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Mit Leuten aus Amerika und Großbritannien habe ich mich dann Abends noch auf den Weg gemacht um ein/zwei Bier auf der Reeperbahn zu trinken. War auch ganz nett, leider habe ich keine Bilder davon. Damit ist auch eine regelrecht elegante Überleitung geschaffen zum Flug am nächsten Morgen nach London.



Zum Vergleich:
Hamburg 2015: 03:34:30
Hamburg 2014: 03:42:04
Berlin 2013: 03:56:58


 Garmin Track:

BUCS Duathlon 2014

In my last race report on this blog I wrote that the BerlinMan was the last race of the year. Well, that was the plan. However I got the opportunity to go to the BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) Duathlon with the Triathlon and X-Country Club of Swansea Uni. Sounds awesome, right? That’s what I thought and went along to do my first duathlon. The competition was held on the Castle Combe race track as part of the DB:MAX “The Chilly” Duathlon.

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We met early in the morning to load a van with our bikes and drove off to Castle Combe, about 150km west of Swansea. The race literally earned its name as it was a chilly and wet morning. Fortunately the sun was about to break the clouds 🙂


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As we arrived we put our gear back together and picked up our welcome packs with race numbers and so on. The race was held in two waves. The first one with all the fast guys. I, as a novice with almost no training on the bike for the past months, was registered for the second wave. So there was a lot of time left to the start which I used to have a look around and watch the first wave start.

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From a platform next to the transition area we got a nice overview of the race course. The duathlon would be a 2mi run around the track, five laps on the track (10mi) cycling and finishing it with a second run around the track. Since the track is very exposed, I was fearing that the winds will seriously hurt my performance. At least there are no significant climbs involved.

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In the meantime our fast group took their last preparations and put on their numbers.

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After a short briefing by the race officials the race was on. Participants from university sport clubs all around the UK sent their best people. And as you can see they took it serious and sprinted off.

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I watched the race till I saw the first green/white athletes getting through transition and finishing their first lap on the bike (pictures in no particular order!) and carried on to get ready for the start myself.

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As the first waves already finished my bike was racked in transition and I was at the start line. At the beginning of the first run I felt great. The hard run sessions during the past weeks prepared me well so I pushed the pace to see if it paid out. Well, it kind of did and I managed to sustain a decent pace.

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The bike ride wasn’t too bad either. Obviously I wasn’t at my best condition to go really fast, but I certainly gave it a hard effort and mostly hung into position. By what you see in the photos you might get an idea how much drag I must have had with all the loose clothing. And no, these are no tight hot pants, these are my running shorts. Other than usual in the bike leg, people managed to get past me :-\ My excuses: old racebike, no clipless padels, no training. Satisfied? Okay, so than let’s move on.

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As I headed into the second run I immediately felt that these are going to be very hard two miles. My calves were cramping right away. I think this was mostly because I couldn’t place my feet properly on the pedals, so they were in an awkward and uncomfortable position all the time. If you look closely you can see how the muscles are just cramped. And that was how it stayed for the first half of the run. Towards the second half my abs cramped as well making it hard to breathe. All the other problems resulting from that are clear. But I still managed to keep an average pace of around 4:40min/km, which is all right in this condition. Eventually I made it to the finish after 55 minutes, which is exactly what I was aiming for.

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All in all it was a great race and great fun! Being part of a team felt awesome even though it is an individual sport. After a quick group photo we headed back to Swansea.

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In the evening we came back together for a nice meal and a drink afterwards to lick our wounds and share the experiences of the day. Thank you Swansea Uni Tri Club! It was awesome!!


Statistics and stuff

Team results:

147Alec Vessey50:13.3010:45.7000:47.9026:17.8000:49.7011:31.80
174Sam Llewellyn51:08.5011:07.9000:54.3026:19.5000:57.9011:48.60
198Matthew Shepard52:01.7012:24.5000:40.8024:47.6000:47.6013:21.10
213Sam Crossley52:29.4011:31.0001:15.1025:48.2001:21.5012:33.40
219Oliver Webb52:36.7011:55.5001:01.6026:07.2001:03.4012:28.90
335Tim Repke55:54.6012:24.5000:56.2026:40.6000:47.7015:05.40
344Jonathan Morris56:08.7013:26.0000:58.1025:07.3000:53.5015:43.60
347Ryan Lethaby56:13.8012:25.2001:06.6027:26.2001:22.8013:52.80
370Tomos Griffiths57:10.4012:23.6000:47.1029:30.4001:16.6013:12.50
407Ben Wilson58:21.9013:27.0000:46.5026:50.0001:02.6016:15.60
416Megan Turner58:50.0013:13.1000:53.3030:19.0000:56.3013:28.20
454Rosie Smith01:00:41.1013:50.3001:19.7029:47.1001:16.8014:27.00
472Patrick Foley01:01:34.4013:19.6001:16.7031:01.6001:04.3014:51.90
479Liam Allcock01:02:00.1014:07.0001:36.7028:56.5001:51.5015:28.30
505Joel Valcic01:03:52.8013:46.6001:28.5030:34.6001:10.7016:52.20
554Sara Powell01:11:06.8016:06.6001:01.1035:09.5001:03.3017:46.00

My detailed results: here

GPS Tracks: Run1, Bike, Run2

Big thanks to Adam, for letting me use some of the photos he took!

Check out @swanstriathlon to follow the club 😉

Croeso i Abertawe – Trip to Neath

Some other day I decided that I’ve already seen enough of Swansea. So I took the bus from Port Tennant along the construction site of the new Swansea University Bay Campus towards Neath west of Swansea. After the ride through a more industrial area, where a Amazon warehouse is, I arrived in Neath.

It is a small and very old town. First Roman settlements existed already in the 70s. I’m not really sure what I expected, but there wasn’t much to see from a young tourist point of view like me on a Sunday morning. One of the main attractions is the castle. It was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times during its history dated back to the 13th century.

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Only part of it still remains and unfortunate for me I even couldn’t get in. All I have are a few shots taken trough the fence.

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Behind the castle I found a boat the somehow reminded me of a Dutch city. But I also remembered that these are common houseboats on British and French canals.

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After I picked up something for lunch I decided to enter a park near the city centre.

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Even though it might be an interesting place I took the next bus back to Swansea a few hours later after some walking around. There might be more to see, maybe my walking radius wasn’t wide enough.

I finished the day in Sketty Park at BBCs Proms in the Park. A large show with an outstanding fireworks finale and the BBC orchestra as well as a very famous Welsh singer I didn’t know. This evening was live broadcasted  on BBC (duh!) and three concert halls around the UK. I should be honest though: I wasn’t actually inside. I just sat at the fence and had dinner (bread&cheese). Very nice evening though. The photo was taken earlier that evening.

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Croeso i Abertawe – On the hills

As promised – some areal shots of Swansea I took during the first days I’ve been here. Once again let’s start in the very east. The place of the couchsurfers I stayed with was somewhere in Port Tennant where I started walking straight up. It was a bit of a struggle though to find the path that leads up the hill.

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On my lookout for that path I came along that graveyard, which I think looks pretty neat with the hill I was about to crawl up.

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Half way up I took the first picture over Swansea. By the end of that entry you will have had enough of that. But bare with it as I’ll try to put everything in proper order and sprinkle in a few bits along the way.

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Above a panorama shot from that spot over Port Tennant looking South.

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From the very top there’s not much to the other than a large radio tower and a few sheep. Even though it’s a nice track I didn’t take photos. I think I figured that it is so nice that I will come back anyway. On the way back on the west face I took the next panoramic shot.

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On the way down the track narrowed down more and more until I ended up making my way through a forest at the bottom and wasted the shorts I was wearing. Fortunately I needed a new pair anyway.

Next off is the Townhill/Maryhill. I’m not sure what the proper name is, but like the name suggests it is right in the middle of the city.

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While walking around I noticed a house that looked somehow familiar. That, dear readers, is the place where I was about to move in (or by the time of writing I’m already living in). On the other side of the road a rather nice building as well. Guess which one is mine 😉

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Throughout the city there are architectural gems that stick out like this cathedral (-like) building. I took the bus to get up half way on the west side of the hill. Paying the ticket is already with it just to experience how such a heavy and large vehicle makes it way up on steep roads.

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From there I started walking up the rest. Here you can see over to the other hill I was up the other day.

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After having taken some more areal shots I got curious what the landscape looks like beyond that sight blocking hump.

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So I made my way up even further and walked back down at the other side, the north side.

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I couldn’t find a good place to take another panorama shot so I decided that this was the last chance to get an overview image even though houses dominate the front of the panorama.

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On my way around I came across that rather obscure decoration. With that I almost finished a full circle around the Townhill and found a bus to take me back down towards the Quadrant.

I hope you got an idea of what Swansea looks like with this series of photos. Next in the series is a trip to Neath and the unforgettably beautiful Gower. Thanks for reading!

Croeso i Abertawe – Off to Swansea

In the last post I wrote about my trip to Llanelli, a nearby town of Swansea. After staying there for two nights I went over to Swansea.

First things first. You might have already asked yourself: What the hell is “Abertawe”? Well, that’s welsh for “Swansea” meaning something like “mouth of the Tawe”, which is a river that flows through the city and ends in the ocean. Behind Cardiff, about an hour by car away, it is Wales’s second largest city with approximately 170k people living here. Also it’s a county. In the 19th century it’s been a key centre for the copper industry. However its history started way earlier. One very interesting part of the county is the Gower! There will be a post on a trip I made there. Maybe I will pull together some background information on that since there are a lot of myths and astonishing stories. Do you know Captain Morgan, King Arthur, Merlin,… ? Yep, all this stuff was here!

Source: TUBS

I had about a week before I could move in to my new home. Remember that Australian I stayed with mentioned in the last post? It turned out that his brother managed another hotel (Glevdon Park) in Swansea, directly at the beach. Also their 83 year old father lived there and helped the brothers out every now and than. All of them are very kind and interesting. If you ever stay in Swansea: Go there! Surprisingly it is the cheapest hotel in Swansea, even though it is directly at the sea front. However paying for a hotel for a week would turn out very expensive, no matter how cheap. Luckily, I managed to find a couchsurfer couple willing to host me for 5 nights. Based there I spent all day long walking around in Swansea and enjoying the extraordinary weather. Have you ever heard of the stereotype that there’s always rain in Britain? Think again! There was so much sun for three weeks straight, that I even got a slight sunburn. After that fat block of text, let’s move on to some pictures, shall we?


Since I took a ton of pictures this will be split in parts. In this post I will follow the coastline and highlight a few other things. Next up there will be a hill themed collection and stories about daytrips to the Gower and a small nearby place called Neath. Stay tuned.

Let’s start off from the Quadrant, the main bus station where you’d arrive with the coach and most buses around the city and bay area end. That’s where I arrived.

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On my way to the hotel I came along that large wall. It turned out to be the jail…

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A bit further down the road the view opens up along the beach. That green building on the left side of the road is there Glevdon Park Hotel. This was just a teaser to get started and show my first steps in Swansea. To put things into order we should backtrack a bit.

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This is the Swansea Marina. A beautiful spot certainly awesome if you are into boats.

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When walking around there a bit you’ll finally get to the beach again. There a lot of sculptures as far as you can see down the bay. Do you remember Ingress? Yep – great spot for that 😉
On the bottom you have some steps. During the tides a nice spot to be.

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Next to the Marina are a few museums. Notably the Swansea Museum as seen in that image. I’m not too fuzzed about that kind of culture. I went in anyway and they had a nice temporary exhibition on Dylan Thomas, a local writer who seems to be idolised a lot around here, as well as an impressive one about the second world war. Besides that they have permanent collections of archaeological stuff and other things. Even an old mummy! There is that funny story about that: During war it was down at the basement, that was used as a bunker. It is said, that people smoking there stubbed out their cigarettes on the coffin.

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Even though it isn’t necessarily next to the coast, here is a picture from the Swansea Indoor Market to complete the sweep form East to West over Swansea. It is Wales’s largest indoor market and even had its own BBC series! I’ve seen that back in Berlin and it was fun to see one of the protagonists of that documentary in real life. Pretty authentic though.

Panorama Beach

And there you have it. The first crappy panorama in this series. On the right, where tower is, is the Marina. Next to it is the Civic Centre with a library, archive and such. Behind that is a hill which will be covered in some other post as well as the hill in the middle, the Townhill/Maryhill.

To not bore you with endless beach photos – there will be some more – let’s make a jump further west. That’s where Sketty Park is directly around the Swansea University. In that panorama shot above, that’s where these almost unnoticeable block buildings are.

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This is just a small view over a small part of that park. There are also three botanical gardens inside the park.

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One is down at the university with fairly tropical plants and a lot of nice places like in the photo.

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Another one is properly cultivated and taken care of by a number of gardeners.

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They even have a few glass houses with rare plants from all over the world. For people who are keen about finding out more I would advise to just go there. You can find out about the expeditions where these are taken from and more.

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Also present: Proper English lawn between all these squares of colorful flowers. All the benches in the garden are donated by supporters. According to that there are benches all over the place. I decided to rest there and have a doughnut I brought along (60p for 5 custard filled doughnuts – how awesome is that). I was very surprised when I saw a group of people walking over the grass sections to watch the flowers. It seemed to be normal though, but I wouldn’t even dare to even stare too long at the precision cut lawn…

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And again, there is some large scale landscaping stuff further down in the garden. To wrap this visit up: Awesome! Steve Jobs might have had better words for that. I can’t fit it into words, just beautiful.

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Somewhere near to the Sketty Park, there is the Brynmil Park. A lot smaller, but still kind of nice. But once you get spoiled by the other one you can’t get back 😉

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We are now already at the east end of Swansea city. One day I took the walk further down towards Mumbles.

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Halfway down the path I turned around. Already from there you get a nice view towards Swansea. I would finish of the rest of the way another day in a run session.

With that you got a nice first overview of what Swansea is about: The beach. I hope you enjoyed reading. I tried to sort the photos of two weeks and put them into proper order. To get a better, and true overview there will be a hill-themed post where I’ll take you on a hike and show some nice areal photos.

Until then, let’s head back to Swansea.

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