Amsterdam Marathon 2017 Review
Running a marathon had been on my bucket list since day one. With next to no running history or experience, it was a mystery to me why. I began my research by thinking of what I wanted to get out of the marathon. The first thing that came to mind was a flat course. It must be a flat course. The thought of running 26 miles is gruelling enough, without the thought of numerous hills added to it. I also wanted a big event. A marathon with enough atmosphere to carry me through to the finish line. Amsterdam ticked both of these boxes.
The application process for the event is straight forward. You apply online, fill in all the usual details, including your predicted finishing time, and then pay. How much the race costs depends on how early you sign up. The marathon is usually run by around 18-20,000 people and the pricing brackets increase every 5,000 people that sign up.
The race is usually held on the third Sunday in October and I advise you to get there at least one or two days in advance to acclimatise to the different time zone and to collect your race day package. Three days before the event, you are able to go to the Olympic stadium and collect this package. You enter, show some form of ID and your confirmation email and they hand you a package that contains your electronic bib, t-shirt, a few pins and the race day information including the route, start times etc. On the way out, the marathon expo. is there. It’s full of companies trying to convince you that you can’t run the marathon without all these hi-tech gizmos that they have. There’s also the usual Amsterdam marathon hoodies, shoes, water bottles etc. And a mural wall which you can sign with good luck messages to all the athletes.
On race day, be sure to set off in plenty of time. The city gets very busy at this time of year and depending on where your hotel is located, it could take you a while to get to the Olympic stadium, where the race starts. The metro station is a great way to get to and from the venue, however they fill up very quickly and you’ll be lucky to get a seat. Also be aware of the 15/20 minute walk from the station to the stadium and include this in your schedule. There are stalls all around the stadium where you can leave your belonging for free, if you don’t want to give them to family members.
On your bib, you will have a coloured square. The colour of the square will determine which zone you start the race in (this was determined from the predicted finish time you entered when you signed up). There are a few small warm up areas but these get heavily crowded early on. The race starts at 9am prompt and the atmosphere really starts to build from about 8.30 onwards, with live music, famous locals and stands filling up with spectators. All the runners line up in their designated sections around the track, with the fastest professionals at the front and the slowest at the back. Bare in mind that I was in the middle section and didn’t actually start the run until about 9.20 as it takes an age for all the people to file out.
The run begins by leaving the stadium and heading towards the park. It then takes a route past all the main attractions such as the Anne Frank House, iamsterdam sign and through riksmuseum. This part of the route lasts about the first 10km and is very lively. The buzz of the filled streets, bustling runners and live music carries you through without a problem. From the 10th to 30th km is where it gets hard in any marathon, but particularly the Amsterdam marathon. The route takes you right up the Amstel river and back again. The path is basically one straight line there and back with very few people on the roads to keep you going.
Coming back down the river, leads you back into the city and follows the beginning. You go back though the attractions, through the park and back into the arena to cross the finish line and receive your medal immediately. The roads begin to get busier again the closer to the stadium up get, with the stadium itself being packed as you cross the finish line. You’re able to stay in the stadium as long as you want afterwards and there are designated areas to sit down and relax. Upon leaving the stadium, you get a banana, energy drink and energy bar, all sponsored by isostar who have fuelling stations littered around the course every 5km.
Overall, I would highly recommend the marathon to anyone looking to run one, wether they are a veteran runner or a first timer. The course is super flat (only a 40m incline over the entire course!) so great for those chasing a PB. The organisation is superb and the medal, t-shirt, food etc. That you receive is great quality.