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Thy Trail ½ Marathon


Yesterday I raced Thy Trail Marathon 2013, the ½ marathon distance. I was 61st out of 157, with a time of 2:04:38.

Driving to the race I remember thinking “why did I change to the half distance when the full marathon distance would have been 10 times the fun?” Well, I did because I was afraid the recovery after a marathon would cost too much ironman training, so there was a good reason. But if I had chosen with my heart I would have run the marathon.

You can find all the photos my mother took in the “Thy Trail ½ Marathon 2013” Flickr set.

My awesome family looked after my kids and drove between the start and the 3 aid stations so I could run with my kids for the first 50 m, and give them a hug at each aid station. Clara tried to give me a stick to run with each time. At the last aid station they even ran quite far with me, especially Tobias hung on for more than 100 m, in heavy winter clothes and boots. That’s quite impressive for a 6-year old, as I was doing around 5'00"/km in that place. Sadly they were just a few minutes late to see me cross the finish line, because of the usual parking chaos in the area. But the kids had a great day, both fell asleep in the car on the way home within minutes.

The weather was almost maximally awesome for the season, around -1ºC and a light 6 m/s wind from north-east, with perfectly clear blue skies and a glorious, warm, bright sun. Rare for the Danish winter. With the race going point to point, from south to north, it was exclusively headwind-ish. It was cold, but not brutally so.

It was real hard warming up, basically it was just a matter of not getting too cold, so I stayed in the bus until the last moment I could, 15 minutes before the start. With the race briefing being 7 minutes short and sweet, 10 minutes before the noon start, it left very little time to do much in the way of warming up.

It is an awesome course, in some of the most remote and wild nature Denmark have to offer. I love that area, I lived close by in my teens and early twenties, so I know it well. In the race briefing we were told that, this being a national park, we were not allowed to cut corners at any point, and it was not allowed to take the long route around the puddles, it was to be straight through them, if they were in the path. It was rules dictated by the permit for the race.

There were several section where you got wet feet, and after 17 km there was a rather deep puddle, almost exactly knee deep for me, and cold. The path was almost pure sand right out of that… endless fun.

Probably 5-7 km of the course was on the beach, and it is hard running. On the other hand, around half of the rest of the course was not much better, mostly sand, albeit a little firmer.

The majority of the non-beach trails were singletrack, so overtaking was a problem at times, but I never felt really frustrated, although I was close to other runners at all times.

The Garmin GPS data from my 910XT show a quite even effort, with some really slow parts where everyone bunched up on the steep singletrack parts. Normally I would use the GPS elevation correction in TrainingPeaks to get better data, but apparently the area is so remote, or so fluid because of sand, wind and weather, that there’s no accurate elevation data. So I left the barometric elevation data alone, it seems more accurate (apart from not being zero’ed at the start).

Thy Trail Marathon is a most wonderful race. I will do it again. And maybe next year on the full marathon distance, it is simply too beautiful out there not to get the most out of it when you can.

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