Half Marathon of Tihany
The apple of the eye of Hungary, a true unique place, for me the Hungarian “Rovinj (Croatian seaside town): a romantic evergreen place”. And finally at last, it has also gained place in the book of runners, and not a small one indeed.
The inner lake – the place of the competition
It was not a difficult task for the organizers, as the place and the scenery was given:
Balaton, Balaton, Balaton – the last 10 years, the Hungarian Sea has regained its splendor and glamour. At last here we are again, and Hungarians are finally spending their summers here again!
Finally the runners of the country are again running here all summer.
Tihany – a rich, organized, and authentic entity. A spectacular small peninsula, with original attractions that are special for this area. My favorites as follows:
- The Inner-Lake, a small Balaton beach, special lakeside venue, romantic plains with the special Hungarian grey cattle, shadoof, mountain view of the abbey on top. It’s like a landscape exhibition, or like the Vajdahunyadvár (museum) of Hungarian wildlife.
- The Hermit Site of Tihany: some 45 hermit caves hidden within the mountain, surrounded by lush vegetation. Exactly a kind of romantic place, that would fascinate curious eyes with mystical and legendary stories, worthy a TV-show indeed.
- The abbey and its surroundings. A true pilgrimage. And the climbing of the stairs is almost obligatory. Somehow I believe, that you can not arrive at a cult site without true exhaustion.
- The Rege pastry shop – the view is simply exquisite. It easily rivals any Croatian seaside view. Looking down on lake Balaton with the white sails of the sailing boats on the lake, make me feel, like I am at the seaside. The well deserved name of the lake, the Hungarian Sea, must have been figured out from this above the lake view! A lot of people don’t know this place, believe me it is breathtaking.
- And we have not even mentioned the Bay of Sajkod, in case you feel like a dip in the lake or perhaps a session of surfing. There is a theme park for the kids, and a beach side walk for the grown ups, with smaller streets and a lot of lavender themed gifts.
- In case you a tired and perhaps hungry, you can rest your legs at any of the most splendid restaurants, even giving a try at any of the for this area specific wines.
- We took the ferry from the other side of the lake on purpose, just to have the great view of the peninsula as we are arriving on the shore in the sparkling sunshine. Stepping on the ground from the ferry is a totally different emotional experience.
Now, let’s look at the organizers preparatory work:
I must commend on the communication of the organizers before the competition. It was a friendly, spontaneous approach with useful and important information.
- Facebook and email communication was strong as well, however not too much. You really felt like they were taking good care of you.
- The preparatory pick up of the start number in Budaörs was not a very good idea I think. I don’t know how successful it was, but I believe, that anything that is outside of the Budapest boundary area, is too far out for those living within. It is a bad habit no doubt, but sometimes it takes longer getting over to the Pest side of town from Buda, speaking from my own experience of course.
- It looked like the organizers were most worried about the parking possibilities. This came through the emails we were sent before the competition. I have to admit, so were we. But to our surprise, it went rather swell, and we were able to park fairly close to the competition headquarters. This experience was above expectation.
- The headquarters were situated on the beach of the Inner-Lake. The organizers made a change, compared to previous years, I suppose mainly because of the increasing attendees. It was a fresh, wide and transparent space, as if we had been invited to a weekend running picnic
The expo tents were friendly and cosy, there was never too much people around, even though the runners completely occupied the area. There was a continuous dialogue between demand and supply.
- There were kids running around everywhere, runners panting in the shades of the trees, and the dogs enjoying themselves in the lake, living out their hunting instincts doing a bit of go fetch training. A perfect scene for an educated painter to put on canvas indeed.
- Running with dogs was also permitted
- Start number pickup went swiftly, on a for this specifically prepared area.
- Everything was offered, food, drinks, raffles. Kolbász (typical Hungarian spicy sausage), grilled food, soft drinks and various energy food. For those not in the running race, it was food heaven.
I much enjoyed the organizers green, nature protective approach.
In my case, my recent closeness to nature, was introduced by running, however I am not a big excursionist, but more like a nature runner. Thanks to running, a new world has opened up for me. My surroundings, the talking trees, I feel the smells, and every minute spent outside in wildlife plants respect in me. And to be doing competitions in nature, is just icing on the cake. A particularly kind gesture from Saucony, was the planting of a tree. We planted a Saucony tree together with Eszter Ónodi, or as I call it, “the tree of running”. I do a lot of running in this area in the summer season, as this area has a special place in my heart, so I can promise to look after that little tree, and follow its life, as I see the increasing amount of runners arrive each year. I believe that with this gesture we have added a small amount of romantics to the game, which I personally think is good for the competition, and sometimes a small gesture like this is all that it takes.
The warming up session with Zoli Csécsei was followed by a huge crowd, to my surprise. I thought it was a great idea, that Zoli was way above the crowd, and not only jumping around on a hardly visible stage. I thought the feeling was super, much, much better than what famous fitness girls usually present at big competitions like this.
We were also happy at the starting post, it was a very friendly atmosphere. Chatting around, waving, just as if we were simply just talking to our next door neighbor.
It was incredibly hot. Last couple of years spring has not fully developed, the transition from winter to summer has been far to quick, so this sudden warm weather came as a shock to a lot of people. I consider myself tough, and I like warm weather, however, this quick change was even too much for my taste. Of course this is force majeure, and subjective, and indeed unpredictable, and not the fault of the competition. Besides, it does affect all competitors.
The course is beautiful.
The streets are narrow, mazy, but very diverse. I am not your average terrain runner, but I do a lot of running in the woods, and on asphalt. Therefore, this competition was one of the best combinations for me: asphalt in nature.
Thanks to the different levels and mazes it will obviously not be your year best. Also because the dense middle field was, according to feedback, often stuck. Now this can be a total put off, specially for those runners who are running for time, and not only for pleasure. My personal view on this would be to separate the 10km run from the half marathon run, by letting the marathon runners start first and the 10 km runners with delay. Thus minimizing the above mentioned problem. Next year perhaps.
I was not disturbed by the fact, that this was not your classical half marathon distance (22,5km officially). I say this, because I do not believe that anyone wanted to achieve their personal best in this race. And the difference was minimal, which means, that your reserves have to perform excellent, if you calibrate yourself for half marathon.
I was totally satisfied with security.
The local auxiliary police secured the tracks in a very polite and professional way, also cheering us on. While out running alone on the course, without the crowd in front of you, and looking around you, you see all these beautiful, enchanting unknown alleys, it is not always easy to know which way to run. You are running at a certain speed, you are tired etc. – it might seem unbelievable, but you can get lost it is certainly true. While you are running, and your body is fully concentrated on your muscles, pumping the energy, your normal brain functions are acting slower. Those who regularly do these competitions know this, specially those who have actually got lost during one, so they know how important the role of the track supervisors are.
The race consists of 2 approximately 10km rounds. I like these several rounds competitions.
I have taken liking to them since I do triathlons, where the rounds are at least twice. First I thought that it would be boring, since I had been used to 1 round in a Marathon race, however I think these competitions also have their charm and advantages, and more and more of them are taking after this configuration.
From organizational perspective, it’s more cost and logistics effective: the close off of streets are less, and the refreshment tables are “only” to be refreshed. If you have a 2 round track, you only need half the people for it, and you can do a shorter distance competition on it as well, in our case a 10 km run, which will invite more contestants.
It’s also positive from contestant point of view, as you have the same friends cheering you on at start and finish, as well as along the whole track. It is great motivation, and the Margaret Island reflex flashes in front of you: only one round left – this way somehow the kilometers are flashing behind me, and for the second round, I know exactly how and where to use my reserves, specially on a difficult track like this.
Refreshments every 2 kilometers – this is a dream come true.
I would have had it obligatory anyhow in this heat. Unfortunately though, on the second round, even those on the frontline were left without water, and the coke was hot. I hope for those behind us, that they did have the time to fill up the refreshments.
The art of refreshing is the most critical point at refreshment tables. A lot of people want the organizers to hand out the water to them. For me it is not a matter of life and death, as I have developed my own well functioning technique: you just need to put your 4 fingers in the glass, and secure it with your thumb, (remember, we are not at a gala dinner). Inevitable fact of course, that the glasses with water in them have to already be on the table, and if it is on a hot day, the water needs to be ice cold!
At the finish line, there were two things I would have done differently: there was no water at the finish line, and we also did’t get our medals immediately on us, and there was a long line for the goodie bags as well. Which reminded me of a time when people had to cue for their food with food tickets. However, I have great hopes, as I could read from the follow up emails of the organizers, that they had noticed the same issues as well.
I have only good to say about the programs organized after the competition. For those who arrived with their families, or from other parts of the country, they had offered a full day outing. As some only arrived for those programs, perfectly good on their own, possibly next year they would come back as contestants in the race.
And last but not least, I have to express my admiration for the relics: the medal is enchanting, tasteful and very original. And the bracelet…… I have no words.
I can easily believe, that a lot of us only attended the race because of it. The athletes top is also pretty, naturally echoing the lavender color. Finally a top for the ladies as well, not only an ordinary t-shirt! My congratulations to the organizers for recognizing this. However, the top was somewhat closed at the back for my taste, more like a bicycle or triathlon top. As I prefer the least fabric on my body when I am running in the heat, I used my own top.
The finish line:
All in all this competition was love at first sight so to speak.
Great atmosphere, in spectacular and original natural surroundings. I have developed an affinity to these smaller competitions – it’s like, when you start listening to classical music. First you only listen and fall in love with those most popular pieces, but as you get more experienced, you start to listen to those more complicated, more extraordinary pieces along the line, but without loosing the monumental feelings towards it.
So I can say after 10 years of competing, that I like to choose my competitions based on emotional values. This competition is a perfect example of that. It offers so much experience and curiosity for your senses, that you feel like you really have to do it next year again. Because running is not only good for you, but running is beautiful as well….