The early morning mist swirled around the dark grey waters of the Danube as we prepared for our biggest challenge yet – a 5ok ultra through the streets of Vienna to raise awareness for our friend Dominika Nowakowska, a top Polish middle distance runner, and her team, Gonimy Europe.
Although the temperature was above freezing the biting wind made it feel distinctly sub-zero! Anyway you know what they say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, so with a final check of the gear and the watches syncronised we were off! This was Marlena’s first Ultra so I tried to reign her in as we set of at a cracking pace – “still 48k to go Marlena”!
We passed the cruise ships on the banks of the Danube, the happy passengers waved at us from the comfort of their breakfast tables, as we headed towards the Donauinsel Bridge and our first landmark the European Centre, a massive building bedecked with flags and security guards who took a great interest in these mad runners weaving through the commuters on their way to work!
We hung a left towards the Donauturm Park and it’s extraordinary mix of buildings including what looked like a replica of the Forbidden City before completing the circuit and heading back across the bridge, in a biting headwind, towards central Vienna and the next segment of our 50k challenge. We both felt good and despite the cold (or perhaps because of it) were moving really well and at quite a clip – “slow down. slow down” I thought!
We ran on, heads down, before turning into another park and what was the site of an enormous adventure park. It was surreal running passing all the deserted attractions including replicas of Jurassic Park, helter-skelters, life size clown figures and the like – weird! I was glad when we left the park and made our way towards the centre and our first pit stop. A warm, sweet tea and half a brownie and we were off again into the main shopping area which was amazing with all the bright christmas decorations and lights shining in the shop windows lifting what was otherwise a grey overcast day. (More about central Vienna and out nocturnal adventures there in our Lifestyle Magaine)
Heading towards the 30k mark we ploughed on and marvelled at the christmas market before our first mishap – I was running with our new GoPro Hero 4 taking some video when I tripped over a wire cover and went sliding along the road on my hands and knees. The whole thing was captured on the video and I might release it on our YouTube Channel when my pride has recovered! Marlena checked I was OK – a bit of blood, no broken bones – yep good to go!
After patching myself up we were off again towards the west of the city were we couldn’t believe the construction that was going on – Vienna was obviously thriving. 38k in and it was time for our final pit stop – more sweet tea and and the best tasting Apple Strudel ever and we headed back into the centre for the final 12k and home. Considering we had driven 1,400 km the day before to get here and had not had a days rest we both felt tired but were still moving OK and another 90 minutes saw us home and time to check the watches – 52k in 6 hours 57 minutes – an amazing effort for Marlena’s first Ultra.
Now it was time to celebrate and see what Vienna had to offer!
We’ve made a short video which you can access on our YouTube channel below and don’t forget to visit our Lifestyle Magazine to read more about our Viennese Adventures and our amazing road trip to get there.