I tried to get into the New York City Marathon via lotto and didn’t get picked. Your loss, NYC! Instead, Brian and I packed up and flew to Vienna, Austria so I could run the Vienna City Marathon. (Well, the half marathon anyway…)
The Vienna City Marathon is huge – this year there were over 35,000 runners. The route is the “fastest” in the world – where Eliud Kipchoge broke the sub-two hour marathon time in 2019. It is flat and smooth, with long stretches of straightaway, and amazing scenery to boot!
The run was very well organized. After I signed up, I received consistent updates via email and as the date came closer, I was able to download an app that had additional information including the course map and real-time tracking so Brian could find me as I ran.
Brian used the app to track me, rushing from spot to spot to catch me as I passed by. I got cheered on by him 6 times! He also clocked over 6 miles chasing me down so definitely got his own work out in too. 🙂
Preparing for the Vienna City Marathon
We arrived to Vienna one week ahead of time so I could do a few training runs and get over jet lag. I probably didn’t need a whole week for this but it was nice to be settled in by the time race day came around. Our Airbnb was perfect – well situated, super charming, extremely comfortable, and with good internet! (Just don’t ask Brian about the shelf toilet.)
On the Friday before the race, we picked up my bib from the Marx Halle, a convention center south of the city’s Altstadt (old town). Unfortunately, we arrived right around lunchtime and there was a massive line around the building to get in. We weren’t expecting to wait in line to enter but at least it moved pretty quickly. When we left though, there was no line at all. Doh!
Inside the Marx Halle there were a ton of vendors selling sports equipment and energy gels, etc. I snagged a nice smelling sample of solid shampoo that I’m going to bring with me on my next trip.
Marathon Race Day
The Vienna City Marathon didn’t start until a gloriously reasonable 9am. When I ran the half marathon in Austin I had to be there by 7:30am, which was less than ideal. There were six starting bays for this race and since I hadn’t registered with a time, I was scheduled for the last one which meant I didn’t actually start until a very chill 9:35am.
The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect. It was cool, yet sunny; there was a nice breeze and the first part of the run was directly down the Prater Hauptallee – a long, straight, shady stretch that runs directly through the park. (The park being a giant city park called the Prater and the Hauptallee being the central artery that goes down it.)
We arrived by subway which was definitely better than trying to drive or uber over. The entire area was a sea of people. The subways were pretty packed, so I think everyone else had the same idea. The city closed two of their lines that were far from the course so they could run the two trains going to the starting line at twice the regular cadence.
We didn’t know which stop to get off at because the starting line was so long it spanned several. We actually got off at one stop, walked out, saw we were too far from where we needed to be so got back on the subway and rode it a stop instead of trying to fight our way through the crowds. Good thing we gave ourselves extra time.
There were tons of bathrooms, which was nice. The ones closer to the starting line had really long lines and the ones further back were basically empty. Lucky me, since the portapotties by the last bay hadn’t been used very much! They also had shipping containers converted to “sitting” bathrooms. For well…sitting. 😉
I made it to my bay as they were all walking up to the starting line. That was perfect timing as I just slipped under the rope and fell into step!
After the Race
Both the marathon and half marathon ended at the Rathausplatz (City Hall plaza) in Vienna’s old town. There were people at the finish line handing out medals and shaking our hands and then more people handing out goodie bags with fruit and water and other snacks in it.
It took me about 30 minutes to find Brian after the race because of all the people and activity. In front of the Rathausplatz there was a huge screen and stage for awarding the winners their prizes. Music was blasting and there were lots of food and drink vendors. Cell service was overloaded and spotty so it was hard getting texts to go through. It kind of felt like I was at a music festival.
Eventually we found each other, and managed to find a food stand with a short-ish line and refreshing beers. The run was on a Sunday and most shops were closed (which is probably nice for locals who wanted to participate in the race). There were plenty of cafes and restaurants still open though, not to mention vendors set up just for the marathon.
We stood in an astronomically long line to have the back of my medal engraved with my name and run time (2h 19m!). As we got closer to the front, an Austrian runner asked us if he could “pretend we were friends” so he could cut the line. I was just about to say “No, that’s not fair” (what a stick in the mud!) but then Brian said “Okay, but you actually have to talk to us.” So I’m not sure how well it actually worked out for the guy, lol.
Would I Run the Vienna City Marathon Again?
All in all, race day was amazing – 10 out of 10 would do again (if I lived closer). The race started at 9:35am and I finished it just before noon. It took 30 minutes to find Brian and another hour to have lunch and get my medal engraved. Then we walked around and made it back to our Airbnb before 2pm for a quick shower and a refreshing nap!
We definitely did more than just run a race in Vienna though. Stay tuned for more posts about actually visiting some sites (and not just running by them!)…