micke-midlife on October 21st, 2009

… I just can’t let it be. Every time the word Rotterdam appears in front of my eyes, this tune of the Beatiful South kicks in, here with slightly modified lyrics. But neither did I want to compare people with pickles nor describe blonde and beautiful people in masses (as their lyrics do), but rather compare five marathon events on how well they support a good marathon run. Added Paris in to the mix as well. Paris is in 2010 on April 11, same day with Rotterdam. 21102009_marathon-comparison1Prepared a little table with stats of the last 5 years for that. The upper third shows the amount of finishers in each year and event. London and Paris are by far the big ones, Hamburg is the “half size” one and Rotterdam and Vienna the smallest ones. What’s interesting is the middle and lower third of the table, the absolute amount of runners below 2:45h and the density of that field. The absolute amount should give an indication on how “lonely” you are especially on the second part of the race. As a comparison Berlin 2009 had about 280 runners below 2:45h out of about 35,000 finishers. Interesting to note is here the Hamburg vs. Rotterdam 2009 comparison. Although the Hamburg event was more than twice as big, the front end was the same size. On average (over those 5 years) however Hamburg has about 120 runners below 2:45h, Rotterdam 88. If anyone who’s been in Hamburg this year, has an explanation, I’d be curious to know more.

The ratio percentage should be an indication on the course. Assuming that each marathon starter field in the thousands has a roughly similar structure of faster and slower runners. I know, this is somewhat skewed, since other marathon events on the same day or national championships integrated in a race impact the picture considerably. I just couldn’t come up with a better indicator and the error margin should get smaller with starter fields in the thousands. I’d say this should be read with a grain of salt. Rotterdam has proven indeed to be faster than the other courses. And quite interestingly Vienna seems faster than Hamburg. The Vienna top 10 in 2009 ran all faster than the Hamburg winner, on the other hand the 2009 race in Hamburg was exceptionally bad. Something must have gone wrong in the organization.

I deliberatly leave London out in the discussion. The event is fully booked half a year in advance. Even the charity spots are gone for the more attractive half of charities, i.e. Unicef and all related to children. You could still get in by fighting against prostata cancer. Hm, not my cup of tea this/next year.

Paris seems from its size, numbers above and the course an attractive alternative, but it’s one of the early ones on April 11. I think two more weeks of training with hopefully less snow and ice in the streets (that’s the winter month Jan, Feb and part of Mar in Helsinki) is crucial. If someone can convince me that it’s not and show me why, I might opt for Rotterdam or Paris, otherwise it’s Hamburg.

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