The Amsterdam Marathon is one of the city’s great sporting events.
It’s a serious race for professionals, but it’s also open to any masochist who’d like to have a crack at running 42 kilometres through the Vondelpark, under the Rijksmuseum, past the canals, out along the Amstel River and back to the finish in the Olympic Stadium.
No, of course I wasn’t running it. You kidding? I was there with the camera.
The great thing about a city marathon is that anyone can try it. I’m never likely to get a chance to play a set of tennis against Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. But I’d be allowed to run a marathon with some of the world’s best. The fact that they’d complete the course in less than half of my time doesn’t matter two hoots, to them or to me.
So watching a marathon go past, we spectators can first marvel at what seem superhuman powers of the front runners, and then admire the courage of the ordinary people who are having a go. We think, ‘If I put in the effort and did some training, that could be me…some time. Sure, it’s a long way and Pheidippides, that Greek soldier who did it first, fell dead at the finish line but it’s not out of the question.’
All in all, inspiring stuff. Maybe next year, or the year after…?