Brrrr Marathon- Fourth Continent




Christmas in Vienna

First Run in Europe

Arriving In Europe (Vienna)
My quest do do a marathon on each continent is heading to the half way stage, however this time instead of making the marathon the top priority I've decided to tack it onto my European holiday, that I have been planning all year. My theory is, I'm not coming all the way back just to do a marathon, so surely I can find one near the end of the trip, run it and then hobble back to Australia.

However, it wasn't easy as all that, marathons in Europe in Winter are few and far between, and the ones I did find, sounded pretty awful..I decided to go for one that was close by to where I would be and easy and cheap to get to..naturally I didn't research, the location, weather conditions and route very much, just paid my 76pound and forgot about it..I've since found that the marathon is a trail run of extremely tough conditions, it is on the South Coast of England at a small place called Portland Bill, they only accept 500 entrants due to the instability of the coastal cliffs, and the weather can be quite treacherous!! Oh well too late to go back now.....

The trip to Europe was long and tiring, but very exciting for me. We traveled on British Airways and I had been told not to expect the best service, but they were great, the staff and food were good but the highlight of my trip was my discovery of the English drink the G and T. Can you believe that I've got to 46 and one has never passed my lips? David ordered a Gin and Tonic and I said I will have a sip of that, was the most heavenly thing I've ever tasted (alcohol wise that is), well it was G and T's all they way after that..if you remember I stayed off alcohol for the last month of my Bangkok marathon training as an experiment to see if it would effect my running, however, this time I think I may try an alcohol binge the month before my European marathon, just for experimental purposes of course!

The new Terminal 5 at Heathrow was very impressive, I've never been to London before, but the sky was so grey from the airport windows, I didn't see any of it. The last leg of the very long journey was from London to Vienna.

When we arrived in Vienna it was grey, nearly dark(4pm) and cold, but not as cold as I had expected. However, I'm not sure if it was me or the temperature kept dropping, but by the time I left three days later, the cold was in my bones and I thought is was the coldest place I had ever been to. No matter how much I rugged up in the end I was still chilled to the bone..however, there was one delightful cure for that..gluwein..yes the G and T's were quickly dumped for the amazing taste of hot wine. On street corners in little tents with crowds of people gathered around you could buy a hot wine in a proper mug and sip it slowly to try to thaw out, it was amazing how quickly it seeped into you blood stream and made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Vienna is made up of three shades of grey, the ground, the buildings and the sky, it's suprising you don't walk into walls there as it's hard to distinguish one from the other, but the wonderful thing that breaks the dull is the incredible Christmas decorations that lines the streets and windows, they were huge, bright and colourful. It nearly made it worth the hour it took to put on five layers of clothing, just to get out into the street at night to walk around and take them all in.

Now to the running, yes I did brave the cold to run in Vienna. The first morning, I rugged up in long gear and a hat, and hit the streets, due to my propensity to get lost everywhere I go, I thought I would just run along the canal near our hotel for half and hour and then turn and run back, sounds logical, doesn't it?

The running out was fine, it was still dark at 7am, and not many people were on my canal path, just the ones who own dogs, but I still felt safe. I turned to run back and I ran and ran and ran, but I couldn't find my start point..I was so confused how could I have strayed off track, I didn't turn a corner or cross a bridge....for a half an hour I ran around some side streets looking for my start point, but I started to get colder and colder and more worried. I kept asking people where Tiefer Graben(our street) was and they all pointed me in crazy directions, saying left, then right, or right then's like they were playing ping pong with the silly Aussie tourist..this went on for an hour and when I still had no idea where I was I started to panic.

The shops were starting to open and I was getting some very strange looks as I was running around the streets in little more than long johns and I thought God it must be 9am, so I saw a little Beauty Shop and went in , the large women behind the counter was someone who obviously didn't practise what she preached, she was big and ugly and wore more makeup that could ever be legal for that time of the morning, however, I just asked the question I had asked twenty times previously ... "Tiefer Graben'. she like everyone before her knew exactly where it was, she pointed up the street, and said "end" and then started moving her fingers in a downward motion, until I said "steps", "Yar Yar" she said "steps down". Well that's a new one I thought, no one had thrown the old step routine in yet, however, what could you do but just have some faith, so I ran to the end of the road where she had pointed and lo and behold, there were very dark, dungy steps going down, what the hell I thought, so very quickly I ran down the three flights of steps, and would you believe it I was standing in Tiefer Graben about one block from the hotel.

If I wasn't so buggered and she wasn't so ugly I would of ran back and kissed  the Austrian Beautician who helped me find my way back home..two and half hours after I left, I arrived back in the hotel room, blue and shaking all
first run in Vienna was one for the memory books!

It wasn’t my last run in Vienna though; I was determined to not let it beat me. There is a ring around the inner city area of Vienna called the Ringstradde and if you stick on it you can do a circle of the amazing monuments and buildings that make up Vienna’s old town. I was determined to run the Ringstradde, I studied it  the night before and was sure that if I stuck to the ring, I couldn’t get lost. So 7am the next morning, looking like a brightly colored bandit, I took off, sticking only to the Ring, and I did it!! It took 35mins to run the ring, so when I got back to the start, I reversed it and ran back the other way. My faith in running in strange, dark cities was restored and on the way I saw some incredible, buildings, archways  and palaces, that just take your cold, foggy breath away.

Our time in Vienna was running out and I was desperate to see the Danube River, I could see it on my map but never got time to go out to have a look. On the last morning, I quickly packed my bags and then told David I was going to find the Danube, and I would be back by nine, understandably he had a dubious look on his face, and he warned me we had to leave for the airport at 9.30am.

I ran to the underground and bought a ticket, it took 5mins to get to my station and it was  lovely sight when I saw the river from the train window, not so lovely though when I alighted and was hit with a bitter, biting wind in my face, I ran up one side, it was dark, gloomy and the river was very choppy, I ran quite a way until, I saw a walkway bridge over the river, I was aware of time, so I thought I would run over it and head back on the other side of the Danube.  

It was very eerie, there was not a soul out and about, the wind was biting, the trees were all leafless and ghostlike, and the empty playground and locked up carnival grounds was positively scary. I was reminded of a movie I watched a very long time ago, called Gorky Park, set in Russia, I felt like I was in a scene from the movie, so I started to run as fast as my legs could carry me back along the river’s edge, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, I had romantic notions the Danube would be a beautiful river and there would be people waltzing and dancing along the river banks!!

The chill was really getting to me, and I was desperate to get out of the  cold, when  Vienna showed me that their famous river has plenty of style, 8 huge white swans were gliding along regally and they were proudly heading in my direction, I was stopped in my tracks and they came up close to me looking at me haughtily as if to say” stop your sniveling you ugly duckling”, I grabbed out the camera and marveled at them for quite a while, until I realised I had to get back.
I raced to the train station. I soon realized that I had hit peak time, so the trains were packed, the first train, I couldn’t fit on, the second the doors open and there was wall to wall people, but I took a chance and jumped in, squished between the Viennese workers and the doors,. I was holding my breath at  the next station  I thought when the doors open, I will just fall out into the station, but lucky for me two large ladies pushed their way in to make the train unbearable full. So there I was in my running gear with five huge Viennese ladies all around me wearing big padded parkas, lucky I was taller than them so my head was above and I didn’t suffocate, but I didn’t have to hang on I was just being bounced about in a wall of soft parkas, it was great , the warmest I had felt in my three days in Vienna, I didn’t want it to end, but my station arrived and I had to extract myself and run back to the hotel  and off to Greece.
Read On.....



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