Amsterdam, Netherlands – The Amsterdam Marathon is set to begin (Oct 15th) once again along the canals and rivers of this iconic European city. What is now a notable fixture in the global running calendar, this 26.2 mile race traces its origin back to 1975, and actually well beyond. Since its inception, it has witnessed a steady rise in its prestige, attracting thousands of global participants each year, and some of the fastest elites in the world.
The most famous marathon in Amsterdam was in 1928, as this iconic historical European city played host to the Olympic Games. The historical links with the Olympic Stadium began in 1928, and since then, have only been strengthened. In its 48th year, the TCS Amsterdam Marathon has expanded spectacularly in terms of organization and scope; from 300 first year racers to well over 45,000 participants. The historical links with the Olympic Stadium, where the Olympic events took place in 1928, have also been developed through the decades.
Today, the race showcases many of Amsterdam’s historical landmarks, the Amstel River, and beautiful city parks such as Vondelpark. A nice surprise for runners is at the 4km mark, where the marathoners will run straight through the heart of the Rijksmuseum, the famous passage which connects Amsterdam city center with the south of Amsterdam. This promises to be a unique experience for the many thousands of entrants from the Netherlands and other countries. The monumental building contains some of the most world famous works of art by celebrated Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer. The course of the Marathon then follows a part of the course of the Olympic Games route in 1928, alongside the Amstel River, stately mansions and windmills. This rural trail offers beautiful views and gives an impression of the enormous activity that rules the Amstel every day.
Over time, the marathon has witnessed record-breaking performances from elite runners worldwide. The flat and fast course provides an appealing prospect for personal bests and world record attempts. The Amsterdam Marathon is often used as a stepping stone race from the small stage, to the global elite stages of Berlin, Chicago, New York City, and the other World Marathon Majors. In 2017, Kenya's Lawrence Cherono, was the surprise winner of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, taking more than a minute off his PB to set a new course record of 2:05:09. He went on to defend his title in 2018 and set a new course record of 2:04:06. This has been eclipsed by a new course record of 2:03:38 by Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia, set two years ago in 2021. As you can see, more speed, more grit, and more drive to eclipse the fastest runners in the world continues to arrive on the beautiful streets of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Marathon 2019
With mountain running as the backbone of my post-collegiate racing pursuits, a transition to the roads was not an easy choice. I knew that I could run 26.2 miles, but could I race the marathon distance fast on pavement? Through the years, I read about flat and fast marathon courses in Europe. Famous cities like Rotterdam, London, Berlin, Valencia, and yes, Amsterdam, always came up in running circle conversations. For some reason, I knew my first marathon needed to be Amsterdam; perhaps because I visited here as a kid and have lasting memories of its beauty.
The setting of Amsterdam is second to none. The quaint architecture, picturesque parks, and abundant canals are simply stunning. With an early wake up of 5 am on race day, the Bobo bars were eaten and the racing gear dawned. The morning of the 2019 race was a crisp, fall like experience and the Uber arrived right on the cobble stone streets outside the hotel, a stones throw from Vondelpark. This park is part of the race course, and provided an ideal location to shake out the legs in the days leading up to the race, not to mention an epic group run. And off we went…
With the historic significance of starting inside the Olympic Stadium, my heart and mind were lifted after a long and challenging training block back in Colorado. For the full story on the day of racing in Amsterdam, go watch the vlog from that very day by clicking here. It was quite the race day experience of taking risks, learning from the first road marathon speed, and packaging up all those lessons for future races, speaking of which...
My Next Road Marathon…
Fast forwarding to 2023, four years on, we’re going to give it another go at that OTQ. Last try? Probably not. But why not go out and enjoy another 26.2 miles of bliss with thousands of other runners in the streets of…. California! After a vertical filled summer of Colorado mountain FKTs, it’s time to get the turnover going at the 2023 California International Marathon. That’s right, we are going to lace up one more time in 2023 for a fast and flat course, from Folsom to the capital city of Sacramento. The California International Marathon (CIM) is a famous US marathon at this point, where everyday marathoners and many of the US and global elites go to chase down those dreams, annual goals, and PRs. The race is on December 3rd, and will be my last race of the season. The goal will be another attempt at eclipsing 2:18 or 5:16/mile for 26.2 miles.
The Amsterdam Marathon ushered in my first 26.2 racing experience, one that I would not trade for any other marathon race. Now in 2023, with four road marathons under my belt, it is time to see what we can do at CIM. Tune into the training over on Strava and more updates soon on YouTube. Onward and upward to pushing ourselves to new heights. Now time to go turn that doorknob.