This afternoon the beach at Edmond-aan-Zee looked like this.  It was the 40th year of the Egmond half-marathon, which takes place every January.  Today we were lucky – we had sun.  The temperature was below freezing, but that’s bearable when the sun is shining.

The race starts in the village and after 2km the runners head down to the beach where they have to be careful not to become stranded on little islands of sand, or end up running on hardened ripples, or get pushed into deep loose sand which will sap your strength quickly.

Then after 7km on the beach they head up into the dunes and face rolling hills before coming back in to Egmond.  We watched the start of the women’s elite race while waiting for DB to line up for the start of his group.

According to the press, there were 17,500 runners expected to participate this year.  It was indeed crowded, and not just with runners.  After DB started his run and after I had gone down to the beach and taken a few photos, I looked for a place to sit, inside and out of the cold, where I could wait for him to finish.  Every cafe I went into was packed full of people sitting, standing, waiting.  I ended up sitting outside at a terrace and had a quick hot chocolate.  The rest of the time I wandered around through the crowds of supporters and waited for DB to show up around a corner so I could cheer him on for a split second.

He ran really well, despite not training very much over the past month.  He finished in 1:48.  Egmond is regarded as the most difficult half marathon in the Netherlands (some say in Europe, but I can’t believe these hills and beach are tougher than running in the Alps).  I’m really proud of him and I’m glad he ran it.  He did say that he doesn’t know if he’ll do it again because it was so crowded over the entire race course.  He had to negotiate through other runners all the time and it’s hard to keep your own pace like that.

By the time he finished and got to our meeting point I was cold to the bone.  We had to wait for a bus to take us back to the parking area and then drive the 20 minutes home.  DB headed to a warm shower and I built a fire in the fireplace.  We stoked that thing up and stood by the fire the rest of the day.  I think next year, if we go, I’ll have to run too just to stay warm!


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