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Budapest Marathon 2019 - REVIEW

Conditions were perfect. All the runners were in for a treat.

The weather was perfect. With temperatures reaching no higher than 23°C, clear or slightly cloudy skies and nothing more than a light breeze, the weather was being extremely kind.

BSI (Budapest Sport Iroda), like a well-oiled machine, arranged everything much as in previous years since the move down to Eötvös Lóránd University; that was fine, there wasn’t anything that they needed to improve.

Finally, of course, we were in freakin’ BUDAPEST! The Liberty Statue (Szabadság Szobor) was standing proud and ready to witness greatness from everyone taking part in the city’s festival of running.

So yes, conditions were perfect.

First held all the way back in 1961 the event, then known as the Csepeli Nemzetközi Maraton (Csepel International Marathon) was for professional athletes only. This restriction was changed in 1984 as a “marathon for everyone” was held, opening registration to all runners who wanted to challenge themselves at this prestigious distance.

Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy the full marathon experience (like those first ‘casual’ runners in 1984) as the event didn’t fit with my other running plans… So I did the 30km instead! Much easier! Once again registration was quick and easy in a vast tent at the Race Centre; one thing I really appreciated this year was the free ‘Pasta Party’ which in Budapest was included in the price of entry, something which isn’t standard in other races.

The course itself was as it has been in previous years: focusing on the stretches of road up and down the sides of the Danube. It offered world class highlights such as views of the Liberty Statue, Parliament and crossing four of Budapest’s many bridges. There was also some variety, with sections through the deeply historic Obuda as well as a ‘dash’ down the length of Margaret Island!

My own experience of the race was good, but with some notable disappointments. It is always amazing to see the volunteers and staff who give up their mornings to support these kinds of running events. It almost goes without saying that without these people straining their arm muscles to hold out cups of water (or doing the myriad of other jobs which need doing) the event would never take place. So thank you, one and all! BUT! Around Obuda, on the cobbled section, there were too many clueless ‘non-runners’ crossing the route which meant I lost the track and ended up running the wrong way. Also, organisers MUST stop electric scooters from entering the course, an unfortunate menace this year.

What is success? Is it a PB? Is it winning a race outright? Is it organising a long-running and complex event through a busy city whilst maintaining established high standards? Is it simply completing the distance one challenges oneself to run, and being happy it is over? I don’t think it matters which of these you call ‘success’. The Budapest Marathon was, and is, an excellent event, in a beautiful city and when the weather is kind, this all combines to be a perfect city marathon experience for everyone.

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