Frosty Fun at the Zúzmara Half Marathon
In the research for this post I answered a question that had been bugging me for a while. What exactly is the correct translation for the word Zúzmara? After many lovely and poetic answers by friends and family, Wikipedia - that final and authoritative source of all facts - says it is Frost. I am taking that as the end of the matter.
Anyway. Just as beautiful ice-crystals form on the hollow husk of dead foliage, the Zúzmara half marathon entered the desolate grounds of HUNGEXPO (in winter, I am sure it is lovely in the summer!) and transformed it into a chance for us fleet-footed folk to shake off some cobwebs (read: holiday weight!) and haul ourselves around a blissfully flat 21km.
There is something good and special about getting to a race by public transport. There is the mounting feeling of excitement as you try and spot other runners making their own way to the venue. There is, also, that feeling of journey you yourself feel allowing the anticipation to grow. Finally, you find the location of the race, the bib-collection and a space to relax before the start. Our little group of runners from runningclub.hu had all of these feelings, and the spacious 'hangar' which houses the start and finish of the race was a perfect - and importantly, warm - base at which to arrive.
The facilities were good. Bib-collection was swift. Toilet numbers at acceptable levels (though there were the usual queues before the start). There was a bag-drop. And SpuriBolt was there for any last minute purchases. Also, anyone a little bit peckish could use the bufe to buy refreshments. Life in the hangar was pretty good, except for the overly loud music and announcements which made communicating with friends a trial.
As the start time approached there was the usual 20 trips to the loo, followed by everyone else spontaneously flapping their legs and arms around to music (the purpose of which I am so far yet to fathom) and my own petty warm up which this time included some ankle twirls and a 200m jog. 10 minutes to go, everyone was ready and started to line up.
This year was much, much busier than in previous years with 5570 runners, and BSI were able to manage this well. The start was smooth without overcrowding to dampen the pumped-up adrenaline-filled runners. The course, similarly, despite a number of twists and turns, also held up well. We left the hangar to a strong breeze lashing any exposed skin, and snow, ice and puddles underfoot; pretty much what everyone signed up for then!
Combining the weather with the course offers something unique to Budapest, that is space. Wide open space with which to breathe some cold crisp air and challenge oneself. And, whilst on some days - I am sure - the openness, the desolate buildings and the rusting monuments of the HUNGEXPO site could feel quite dour and oppressive, it was instead, on the race day of the Zúzmara Half Marathon, filled with excitement, and effort and success.
Zúzmara Félmaraton - 21,1 km
1. Jenkei Péter 1:11:43
2. Balázs Levente 1:15:09
3. Csontos Imre 1:16:48
1. Staicu Simona 1:28:34
2. Csiszár Vivien 1:28:52
3. Kovács Zita 1:29:04