Sunday 31st October 2014

by Stu Helmore

After last year’s successful Roundhay Runners trip to Amsterdam, a few more of us decided to have a go at the various distances in 2014. I entered the marathon and was determined to put some of the lessons I’d learned from my first marathon (York, October 2013)  into practice. This basically meant more training, so I started running home from work once a week. In mid-July I developed an ITB injury but, with three months still to go to the marathon, I thought there was plenty of time to recover. Sadly I was wrong: I’m still having issues. Luckily, Amsterdam also offers a half marathon and an 8k race so I was able to change my entry when I knew how far I would be able to go.  I’d already booked flights and paid for the accommodation, so I was determined to go and would just support if the injury was too bad to run.


I managed to run up to about 10 miles in the weeks leading up to the race, so I was able to transfer to the half marathon. Obviously I was disappointed not to be able to run the marathon but it totally changed my approach to the race and the weekend and it probably meant I enjoyed myself a lot more.


I had no target time so no pressure to constantly look at my watch. This meant I could relax a bit and not need to run at a pace that would make my eyes pop out of my head. Plus it meant I could have a couple more beers the night before and not need to head to bed early for a decent night’s sleep.


The aim was to run with James and to pace Chris to a new PB but they wanted to jog the 4k to the start. I had no idea if I’d make it to the end of the half marathon as my knee was still not right and I didn’t want to add unnecessary mileage, so I walked to the start. We didn’t appreciate how busy the start area was going to be and we couldn’t find each other when we got there. It would have been nice to run with them, but I was happy enough in my own little world taking in my first international race.


My knee managed to hold up – just. If the race was half a mile longer, I would have had to stop and walk. Adrenaline, determination and knowing that there was support for me in the stadium helped me push to the end. I even managed a sprint finish. The time was irrelevant really as my only aim was to finish the race, but I was very happy to be within five minutes of my half marathon PB.


Amsterdam is a great city and I had a fantastic weekend running, supporting and relaxing. I’d highly recommend the half marathon there. It was something different and a fun weekend away with friends. There is no doubt that it’s whetted my appetite for future international races. What’s that? Did someone say Barcelona?



Short flight.

No language barrier.

Great city.


Lovely food and beer.

Easy transport.

Lots to see and do.


The race

First half wasn’t very scenic, a bit industrial with not much to see.

Second half was through parks and along canals so much nicer.

Brilliant to finish in the Olympic stadium.


Well organised.

Lots of fuel stops.

Cups of water were handed out, not bottles.


Not many and not obvious distance markers.


Very flat.


Wet sponges were good on a hot day.

Nice apple energy gel.