Sunday, April 22, 2018


Vienna City Marathon 2018, and why this may have been my last one

Today I finished the Vienna City Marathon (VCM) half in 02:24:59, an improvement over the half marathon two weeks ago despite the heat, and better than I expected after a long involuntary training break. It was a good run, and I am quite happy with the result. Nevertheless, this may have been the last time I participated in the Vienna City Marathon, and here's why.

I ran my first marathon here in 2015, and have been coming back every year since. The course is great, the atmosphere is great, with people cheering along most of the route, but the quality of service just doesn't feel right, especially not for one of the more expensive running events.

Much has been written about the lousy “starter packs”, which are just the clothing bag and some vouchers, no goodies, not even an energy bar or a drink. Now I don't need a large bag filled with useless, unrelated stuff (like salad sauces!), but a little something would be a nice sign of appreciation. (There was a finisher bag this year with some fruit, snack and drinks.)

42,000 athletes sound great, and combining full, half and relay marathons in one competition surely provides for fantastic pictures at the start. The downside is that things get crowded at times. Very crowded. Today, the first two supply stations had long queues of runners desperately looking for water, and the (too few!) poor folks at the booths couldn't keep up with the demand at all.

At the 15km supply station, we were told that they still had cups but had “run our of water.” What? I saw several dehydrated runners seeking assistance from emergency services. It is the damned duty and  responsibility of the organizers to ensure sufficient supplies, not of the emergency services. Oh, and given the lack of supplies the moderator's recommendation to “drink plenty” sounded like utter mockery.

Lastly, one of my pet peaves: At most running events, you will find waste bins after the supply stations, allowing for a controlled disposal of plastic cups. Granted, some still land on the street but for the most part this works fine. Not so at the Vienna City Marathon, there are no bins and consequently cups are disposed off on the street. Running over thousands of plastic cups and sticky energy drinks is not fun. (I admire Pumuckl and the few other barefoot runners who have to go through this unprotected.)

In the finish area, I overheard several people complaining about the organization, too. As long as the various competitions are still fully booked every year, the organizer will probably see no reason for changes. I have been seriously disappointed today, and will consider whether to participate in this event again next year.

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