I first met Christian Hottas nearly 2 years ago to the day in Birmingham, a quiet and unassuming man that held a secret that he was a record holder for the most marathons and ultramarathons. Christian has so many friends though running I was honoured to receive an invitation to run with him and other runners from all over the world in Hanover to celebrate and run his 2,000th marathon.
At the Airport
I had all intention of keeping costs down for this trip and soon regretted it when I found myself on the 5.00am coach from London to Stansted Airport and had not taken into account that we probably took every back street in the capital to get there so felt decidedly unwell by the end.
At the airport I was expecting to meet my dear friend Pam and as I waited at the Gate I saw her walking up accompanied by two people who transpired were also running Christian's escort, Elaine and Paul. Paul is visually impaired and by coincidence was staying at my hotel....Paul was my new traveling buddy.
The Party starts
After arriving at our hotel there was no rest as we met up for lunch and then later at the Pasta Party where we received our wonderful running shirts and then queued for our pasta meal and our race numbers. So after many photographs, laughs and running talk it appeared that the long day was getting to us so in the early evening Paul and I returned to our hotel but then had a cunning plan of seeking out a beer from a local hostelry and as we passed by saw our new found friends Torben Sørensen and his son Morten tucking into a pile of sushi both with beers in hand, we joined them for a chat and laughs before we called it a day and tracked off to the hotel for a very early night.
The day of the race
After a lovely breakfast with Christian Hottas we made our way to the meeting point just 50 metres from the start, here we met Elaine and Pam so after a brief discussion Paul agreed that Pam and Elaine would guide him for the first few miles and then I would take over as and when. So at just before 10.00am 85 runners from 11 countries led by the wonderful Christian tucked behind the main marathon field and started a very slow but steady marathon. I have a feeling that my new found running friends, so thoughtful, quiet and respectful were not quite ready for a Union Flag short clad, Monkey Foot wearing extrovert Brit and were taken aback with my noisy antics but were soon joining in with jokes and talking in so many languages.
My run with Paul
So at around 6 miles in I asked Paul if he wanted to run with me which he was happy to do as I had hinted there should be beer somewhere along the way. From that point on I quietened down a bit so we could concentrate on the route together but ever so often we would chat about some funny story or talk about the people we could see and here. More often than not we would be laughing at something silly.
The run was on a hot day and the organisers knew what we needed, slices of watermelon, apples and bananas accompanied all the carb gels you would want but it was only in the last 2-3 miles we were offered what we had been looking for....beer so with 2 x 500mls blagged from spectators the two of us had a short walk whilst we knocked back our beers in about 3 gulps to move onto the next crowd to be handed another bottle each!
The run finished quicker than I wanted it to, maybe because of the slower pace or the fact I was enjoying it so much but at the finish line a guard of honour was formed and Christian Hottas crossed the line to complete his 2,000th marathon/ultra and amazing feat for a human but more amazingly, he is still going to run more and as Christian says:
"Every run is a gift"