Amsterdam marathon runners share their experiences

Students who ran the Amsterdam Marathon share their personal experiences of the weekend and what it is like to run for hours on end without stopping.

Rob Wynne-Griffiths

“I couldn’t have run it without my music. It took me to another place where I could forget about the amount of pain I was in, and drove me on to finish it in a time I never thought I’d get. While running I became someone else! Some kind of mysterious energy kept me going, fuelled by a mix of fast paced music, the incredible amount of support I received (Thank you!!) and an absolute determination to finish. I’m not going to lie; when I crossed the finish line I burst into tears. It felt absolutely incredible to have actually completed the race. It was such an emotional experience for me. Personally, during the race it was definitely mind over matter… My mental strength trumped my physical strength.”

Bertie Wnek

“What more can I say other than the weekend in Amsterdam was fantastic? This, the balance between ‘city break with the lads’/ ‘Long Distance running tour with the athletes’ was perfectly struck. We casually slipped from training runs through the red light district to restaurants that had menus with a high carb content. There were laughs, there were tears and there were moments where we neither laughed nor cried, just crouched. I just knew as the weekend progressed that I’d be reminiscing about this for the rest of my days. Reminiscing about the time for example when my legs ached after the race, or the time when I was feeling nervous before it started. I’d recommend running next year’s marathon for those people considering it. Just remember this one crucial piece of advice from an ancient Polish proverb; ‘life is chaos’.”

Charlotte Beckett

“The vibes on the Amsterdam Marathon morning were pretty low. It was a dreary Dutch day and my legs were sore from too much sight seeing the previous day. However, it really turned out to be a day to tell the grandkids. The spectators were overly excitable, the free sports drinks on the way round tasted uber scrummy, the 26.2 miles of scenery was beautiful and the constant rain helped to disguise the sweat. After meeting all types of weird and wonderful people on the way round my belief (mainly that there were no unexpected toilet breaks on the way), excitement and mild deliriousness! The finish in the the Olympic stadium really was the icing on the cake. We did our lap of honour waving to the crowds feeling like Paula Radcliffe (a slow shuffling Paula). There were hugs for days at the end and despite not being able to walk properly it truly was one of the best things I’ve done and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Alex Urquhart

“The moment I cannot erase from my memory of Amsterdam is a traumatic one. When barely summoning the energy to rake my legs forward another pace, stepping on what felt like naked bone, and, of course lactating blood, I asked myself “why am I doing this?”, this pain I have volunteered to endure was making me miserable and I simply could not justify it enough to lighten my mood. When, however, I, along with my running partner Emilia, did a final, triumphant lap of Amsterdam’s Olympic stadium; crossing the line – embraced by friends, supporters and co-runners; reminded of the near £50,000 raised for Worldwide Cancer Research and being able to guiltlessly stop my legs, knowing how far they’d taken me – my question was perfectly answered. It was, at times, painfully cruel. It is, however, permanently worthwhile. A day I will never forget, and always cherish.”

Jessie Bromovsky

“The Amsterdam marathon was one of those moments that we signed up to in Christmas, and so felt like it was a million miles away. It wasn’t until the summer holidays had passed and the 1st October suddenly came around that it began to hit me what was actually in store. However, bar all the nerves and anxiety that lead up to the run, it has to be one of the best things I have ever experienced. I ran start to finish with a friend of mine called Charlotte Beckett as I realised, considering how long it was going to take me to complete 26.5 miles, it was going to be a very boring run if I was alone. The energy at the start was phenomenal, surrounded by absolute strangers who in that one moment become your closest friend – for about 1 minute until they power on passed you. And although there were definitely ups and downs in the race, the ups coming straight after consuming enormous quantities of AA energy drinks, the greatest part has to be finishing in the Olympic stadium. The crowdenergy is incredible, especially when you realise half of them are your friends from York. And there is no happier feeling after running 26.2 miles then realising that if you don’t want to, you never have to run again.”

Isaac Beevor

“Going through a huge range of emotions running the Amsterdam Marathon was a strange experience for me if I’m honest. I started off incredibly grumpy as in the first half of the race there were too many people around me which meant that I was constantly ducking and diving , although being from Luton I’m quite good at that. Then in a split second I was almost in tears as after rounding a corner there stood a little old lady who was holding a tray of chopped bananas. It was this ‘spirit of the marathon’ that I was shocked about, supporters had turned out to cheer on random people on a dull and wet day. Families stood outside their houses handing out water, people made signs to cheer on the marathon runner, and even my fellow runners encouraged me as we were in the same position of pain. It was made even more special when towards the end my family and friends who had travelled out were there to cheer me on. After I crossed the line it took a while for what I had done to sink in but after collecting my medal it really hit home. I rank running the marathon as one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. And then going out that night to celebrate with my mates was fantastic especially as ‘the snake hips’ were still in full working order.”

Jonny Long

“People will snort with derision when I say that I genuinely enjoyed running a marathon. The first 20km ticked by without even noticing. However, you want to hear about the pain and inner turmoil I faced on the road. My legs started to tire and my head was dropping a bit as I passed more and more kilometre signposts. Having my family and 50 people you know from university cheering you on was massive, I only nearly cried twice. The hardest part was the last 5km, I thought that it would never end, and swore that I kept on missing kilometre markings, but I was just getting slower and then when I passed them I would curse the tarmac underfoot that was grinding my joints into dust. In the end, I dug deep into my suitcase of courage and came up with something that got me to the finish line.”