Mate Hegyhati

Budapest Vivicitta 2016 - Eye opening experiences

Two weeks ago I've participated on three races of the Budapest Vivicitta Running Festival. I would have never thought, that the race this year will provide as many new experiences as it did last year, but it certainly did. To put that into perspective: a year ago I accompanied my brother in law for His first half marathon using it as a test drive for the baby cart of my nephew, while still having plaster on my dominant hand.

Before going further, I have a confession to make: for me (and probably for many other hobby runners)  races are festivities not competitions. I usually don't care about my time, beating my PB, things like that. I just go there, and try to enjoy the happening as much as I can. Mix this attitude with a mind constantly having crazy ideas, and then You can imagine how my running life looks like. 

This year everything started with the realization that the 3 races on Sunday (Saturday had short races for families, schools, etc.) do not overlap at all: the day kicks off at 9 am with the half-marathon, then the Midicitta (7k) starts at 12:30, and last but not least, the original 10k Vivicitta distance closes the festival from 2 pm. When I saw this, I immediately registered for all three of them: if I'm already there in Budapest, let us have as much fun as possible. 

There was just one task ahead of me: finding partners for all of the races, because I wanted to have fun, not to hurry (and to cover that I'm lazy to run fast).  Luckily, I managed to have wonderful company on all three of the races, and finish all of them, making the montage below possible.

But enough blabbering, let's talk about the experiences after such a long introduction. My wonderful company for the half marathon is a proof, that using modern social media can have fantastic results. This runner girl just shared one of her  blogposts in a facebook group for Hungarian runners. You can imagine, how many posts that group have on a daily basis, so it was by sheer luck, that I read Her post, but I did. And in this message She mentioned, that She will run Her first half marathon on this race. Long story short: we contacted each other and decided to beat the beast together. Since She works abroad, and just flew back home for the race, we only managed to meet up right before the race. Like, literally... We met 15 minutes before the race for the first time. Nevertheless, the race went by splendidly, She kept a very stable and nice pace, there were no issues, and we had a lot of very nice conversations. She was a fantastic debutante :-)

Accompanying a first timer is always a nice experience, no matter how many times I do it. It is so good to see somebody to overcome something, that she/he never did before. It starts with the enthusiastic plans a month before, continues sometimes with a downhill in the confidence a week before, the excitement at the start line, and... everything that follows. I'm always really happy for them, and even proud in it's non-related sense, like I'm proud for any Hungarian Olympic medalist

An other very pleasant surprise came from one of the policemen, who were responsible for our cordon. He happened to be stationed next to the 6 km sign, that fell off due to the very strong wind we had that day. The guy simply just took it from the ground and held it for us!

I know, it doesn't seem to be such a big deal, and maybe it is not, but this was definitely not included in His job description. However, His actions certainly made all the runners happy, and got Him a lot of acknowledgement with applause. It may was just a simple act of kindness, but the attitude is worth praising. After the race, someone posted this photo on facebook, and many comments like "I've seen Him too, awesome guy, best police officer ever!" were added. And by the way: Due to zones, the time that passed from the fastest runner until the sweep bus at kilometer 6 was probably more than 45 minutes. My arms would probably be too week for that stuff, and... have I mentioned, that He smiled and cheered on everybody? 

Moving on to the other two races: my 10k partner got kind of injured, and the girl who accompanied me for the 7k had basically no runs for the last three month and no 7k+ for a year. So, this resulted in the jaw dropping experience of  the day:  meeting the back (tail?) of the field. 

I don't consider myself a fast runner, but I can comfortably have a 5 min/km average on a half marathon distance. Even when I was talking a lot or accompanying somebody, I've never went much above the pace of 6:00. It is true, that I ran a lot of kilometers during our community runs with 7:00-7:30 pace, but that is a completely different environment. Anyhow, I was a first timer at the 7:00+ part of the field, and it was overwhelming. 

We already discussed with some friends, that races are mostly easy for us. We just go to a half marathon, and finish below 2 hours with ease, even if a little bit injured. Then we sit down, have our rest, drink a beer, do some stretching, and start to walk away. By doing so we see people still fighting for the glory of finishing a half marathon. We always looked at them with utmost respect, and cheered them wholeheartedly. This time, I could see from very close, what is happening with some of the slowest runners around me. 

And man... I have seen some stuff... Bad posture. I mean really, really bad. Lot of extra kilos, sweating like hell, running with a very bad technique, maybe not as bad as these guys below, but still...

So there were people running really slow (basically I can nearly walk faster), walking, breathing heavily, exhausted expressions, and... they kept on going no matter what. It was unbelievable, something I haven't really seen before. I usually see people who run below 5:30. Yes, they can be tired, but not exhausted, fighting with the elements and stuff.  Or at least, it is not as common. Here I looked around and I saw people who were really fighting hard, making the decision to quit or not at each step. But they kept pushing their limits. and then, there were the people alongside the track cheering enthusiastically, even for those at the very end. The same thing I experienced from the Zagreb runners a month ago. To see, how this gives an additional boost to the people, so that they smile instead of starring straight down to the asphalt.

And then, the sweep bus was approaching... I have never ever seen the sweep bus before in my life. It is terrifying. I mean, I don't want to be too sentimentalist here, but even I became strung, though I knew I could easily run 1.5 times as fast. I can not imagine, what it was like for that overweight guy with his son, who could nearly touch the bus, it was so close to them. This feeling becomes even heavier, if that someone trained for that race for months. For me, if I get injured or something and I have to give up a half marathon, no big deal. I had plenty of them, and I'll hopefully have in the future as well. But if it is the first one, and someone was working hard for that for months... that is a different story.

Anyhow, this really was an experience that gave me a new perspective. I considered the slower runners as big heroes so far too, but seeing it up close was something different. If You are a lucky person like me, who can easily run faster, I highly advise You to try this once! 

That's all folks, sorry for the long post, hope it was not too boring. Last but not least I'd like to thank to all three girls for the wonderful company, and my other friends too, with whom we traveled to Budapest together!

And as always: Thanks for reading! Sharing, comments and +1s are always appreciated. You can follow the blog on Google+Twitter, and Facebook.

Mate Hegyhati

About Mate Hegyhati

Amateur fun runner, geek, hiker.