Just a week after my last visit to Charleroi, I was back in grim South Belgium. This time I was on my way to the Netherlands, to run my first half-marathon. I thought I might as well do one somewhere reasonably flat so I was doing the CPC Loop in Den Haag. I got a train to Brussels, had an hour before the train to Den Haag and went back to one of my favourite cafes from the previous weekend for a quick coffee.
The next day in Den Haag I walked into town from where I was staying, and had a look around. The start of the race was at Malieveld, and hours before the start there were already plenty of people jogging around and warming up. It was overcast and quite chilly - not good waiting around weather, but pretty much ideal for running.
The start time approached, and I headed for the line. The CPC Loop is a huge event, with thousands of runners, and I found myself about three quarters of the way back down the field. The hooter went, and off we would have gone if there wasn't a huge bottleneck for us all to file slowly through. Ten minutes after the start, I crossed the line, and five minutes after that I was able to start running.
We headed out into the suburbs of Den Haag. There were a few spectators on the early part of the route, but soon it was just the runners and the road. The sound of pounding feet on tarmac was all I could hear. The clouds were slowly breaking up, and with the sun coming out I was looking forward to the first water point at 5km. I reached it about 25 minutes after I'd started running.
The course then took a turn towards the coast. The second 5km went reasonably quickly, and I was there in just over an hour. I wanted to finish in under two hours, so given my 15 minute delay at the start it looked like I might possibly be on for it. But I was starting to get a pain in my foot which was not ideal.
We reached the beach at Scheveningen with sun shining through a sea mist. By now, my foot was hurting a lot and I was having to slow down. I reached the 15km mark after about 1h40m, and by 16km I had to stop running for a bit. But once I'd stopped, I couldn't really get going again, and the last 5km were a painful mix of short runs and long walks. I reached the finish in 2h20 minutes.
I trudged back to my hostel, and earned the hatred of all my roommates by spending about an hour in the shower. My foot pain had been caused by my trainers rubbing on the joint of my big toe, which had never happened before so I don't know why it happened then. Once I'd managed to peel my sock off, I found less skin and more blood than is normally ideal. I thought it was probably time for a new pair of trainers when I got home.
Netherlands 2003 | Amsterdam »