For people interested in running, the Krakow half marathon offers great city center views and an excellent organization. The city hall organizes the event. During this race, you will run next to the world’s oldest mall, from the XIII century that is still open, churches 1000 years old, the Wawel castle, and finish inside the biggest arena in Poland, the Tauron Arena.
I like that they offer the best pictures for runners, the race course is very well-guarded, and the pedestrians don’t get in front of runners like in other races. The transport in the city is free for runners that day. You also get an SMS with your time once you finish the race.
The race course is not flat as Copenhagen, and this can be seen in finishing times. One useful metric is the time of the runners at the middle of the ranking. For example, that average was 1:55 in Copenhagen and 1:58 in Krakow. The number of runners is also lower, with a limit of 7000 runners this year. Last year the maximum allowed number of participants was 5000. They could increase this limit to at least 10000 runners. There are pacemakers for all types of people from 1:25 to 2:30. Although only a few runners can keep up with 1:25 or even 1:30; for example, in Bucharest this year, precisely one person was running with the 1:30 pacemakers. As I mentioned in Bucharest, the week before this race was MIB with 1700 runners in the half marathon race with an average time of 2:04. MIB’s average time was slow as the route is flatter than in Krakow.
The weather was perfect on October 16, in the range of 15-19 Celsius. Many people encouraged the runners along the way, which was a positive attitude during the race. However, what surprised me was the considerable number of people injured that needed medical assistance during the running. In every half marathon I have run until now, I saw 2-3 people fall injured during the race. I saw maybe seven people lying down on the last kilometers of this run, and I don’t know why.
Another thing that impressed me was a blind runner tied up to another runner. The other runner was also guiding him. Blind runners for long distances are rare (or I haven’t seen them). I am used to blind chess players, which is quite common in tournaments. Blind chess players can rely on their opponents to make the moves, and it’s easy. Blind runners need someone to be able or willing to run a half marathon at their speed. Training for a long-distance race might be difficult, too.
The October half marathon has a special meaning for me. In October 2015, I ran my first half-marathon race in Bucharest. Since then, I ran every year a half marathon distance in October. Even when injured (like this year) and even in 2020 when there was no official race because of Covid. Since 2015 I have run more than 8500 km and around 20 half marathons. It is never too late to make a change in life.
I was under an injury after Copenhagen when I started preparing for the Krakow half marathon. When you run only 12 km long runs and then you participate in a half marathon, there is a risk that you will get injured during or after the race. The reason is that the difference between 12 to 21 km run is hard to be absorbed by the body. That is why when increasing the running volume, you should do that by 10-20% every week, but not more. You run 12 km, then 14, 16, and 18, and only then are you ready for the half marathon. I knew that, but I hoped that I would be fine. It wasn’t the case. I got a muscle injury in the back area of the left kidney. After three half marathons in 1:54 this year, I wanted to finish one at a better time and pushed the limits. I made a mistake and learned from it. On a positive note, since Copenhagen, I have lost three kilograms by reducing sweets. They say that if you drop five kilograms, you could improve the half-marathon result by 10 minutes. That works until you reach the ideal weight, then the time to finish increases if you continue to lose weight.
On the morning of the race, I took Nurofen, used Voltaren, and hoped for the best. Things were ok until the 16th kilometer. At that time, the race predictor estimated I would finish in 1:56. Unfortunately, the pain in my back started to grow. I decreased the pace directly proportional to the increasing pain. Around 18km, I thought to walk instead of running. From a speed of 5’20” -5’30” per km up to that point, I had to drop to 6’30″/km. At km 20, somehow, the pain was gone, but I chose not to push my luck. There was not much to do anyway. The official time was 2:00:16. Ranked 3377 from 6605 people who finished the race.
Fun section. My running club is called in Romanian “Trupa lui Fane”. In English, that translates to Fane’s group or Fane’s team. But in Polish, this reads as “Lui Fane’s corpse”. In Romanian, “trup” means body, but in Polish means dead body. The word has Slavic origin in both languages, but the meaning evolved differently. The word “trupa” is a genitive form of “trup”. All the other runners could see my club on the registrations page. In Polish, “Trupa lui Fane” sounds more like a club for pirates than for runners.
I want to thank Stefan Oprina for training me remotely this year!