I jogged regularly during my university years but, to be honest, I found it a bit boring! So, to be writing a blog article about running a marathon is as surprising to me as it probably is to you. I started fast walking a few years back to keep healthy and fit. Some friends were part of a cross-country running club and they invited me to join. After a few months, I successfully completed a 35km cross-country race and the world of running opened up to me. With my enthusiasm renewed, I ran in last year’s Shanghai marathon with my team mates – helping and encouraging each other along the way.

The chance to run in Germany

I knew I was coming to Germany on a two-week business trip in April this year so I thought I might combine business with a bit of pleasure. I would have free time on the weekend so I checked the worldwide marathon calendar to see if anything was happening in Germany. Luckily, I found out that the Hamburg Marathon was taking place and registered on the website.

Hamburg marathon

In preparation for the race, I followed a full marathon training program while still in China, running a different distance every day. Weekday mornings I usually ran alone, but over the weekend I ran with my team. Of course, sometimes my professional commitments or bad weather prevented me from running, so I switched to some gym exercise or treadmill work. April quickly came around and my colleagues and I flew from Shanghai to Frankfurt for our trip to Germany. We had meetings and presentations at MANN+HUMMEL in Speyer the first week and then, the week after, we were going to visit the ‘Hannover Messe’ Industry Fair.

My colleagues spent the weekend exploring the delights of Speyer, but on Saturday morning I hired a car and drove 600 km to Hamburg. Late Saturday afternoon, I picked up my race pack and spent the evening relaxing in my hotel. I then woke up early on Sunday morning to get to the start line.

Hamburg marathon

An unexpected hailstorm

One thing I was not expecting was the crazy weather! Half an hour before the start of the race the sun was shining and it was so warm, I took off my long-sleeve top. But when the race began at 8:00 am, I could hear the clickety-clack of hail hitting the ground! The hailstones were quite painful but they pushed me to run even faster to avoid any more hurt.

Despite the weather, the experience was unforgettable. Running past famous landmarks in Hamburg – the Binnenalster, Köhlbrandbrücke, Speicherstadt, Elbe, Hamburger Hafen (port) was such a different experience than the usual tourist tour. The atmosphere was electric it seemed the whole of Hamburg was on the pavements supporting the runners. Unlike Shanghai, where the spectators are kept a little distant from the course, everyone was up-close which made the whole race so much more intimate and relaxed. Little kids were holding out their hands hoping for high-fives from the participants and, as well as the official refreshments stations, people had set up their own with water, drinks and snacks.

Hamburg marathon

Celebrating the achievement

After an exhilarating run, I arrived at the finish line and enjoyed a beer in the festival tent. The spirit of support and togetherness was so infectious, I then went back to the finish area to applaud and encourage the other runners. Sunday afternoon, I packed my things and drove to Hanover to join my colleagues for dinner and to celebrate. They have been a great support to me and have given me a lot of encouragement, even though they think I am a little bit crazy!

Ever thought of running?

I would encourage anyone looking to keep healthy and fit to think about running, or just moving more. I have lost about 15kg since I started and I find a run is also a great opportunity to think about the day and just have some time to reflect. You don’t have to include a marathon on every business trip, but a brisk walk or a short jog is a great way to relax.