Why the Luxembourg Marathon Is So Much Fun
Luxembourg is an old country known for its fortresses and is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The country, though it may be small, has its advantages. For example, as one of the homes to the European Parliament, the country hosts numerous enterprises creating thousands of jobs and bringing in a lot of prosperity for the country. With the population growing, it would come as no surprise that one would discover a few of the past times of many of these hard workers which include running, biking and swimming. In fact, at the end of winter, you will find many training for the ING night marathon that makes for a late spring race, typically held during mid to end of May. This race has several unique aspects all of which you may consider when deciding if this will be your next race. Let us count the ways that Luxembourg throws a fun marathon!
It’s at Night!
With a 7 pm Saturday evening start time, you’ll take comfort in the late sun with the start of your run. Because the supporters can partake in Saturday evening drinks during which is typically pleasant to warm conditions, you’ll have a plethora of spirited fans screaming, hooting, and cheering you on as they fill the parks and bars along the course. As you push on, the rays will eventually start to descend, cooling your legs for the final sprint. This is, of course, all depending on which race option you have chosen.
Upon registering for the ING night marathon, there are several options for participation. The most popular is the half marathon which sells out quickly with over 7,500 runners. This is due to the course and atmosphere. The first 16 kilometers of the course is relatively flat and even has a slight gradual downhill. However, the real challenge begins with the remaining 5km which provides a slow, progressive ascent.
Next is the team relay marathon where 4 members run between 9 to 11 kilometers each to complete the marathon route. And finally the full marathon. Although all participants for all races start together, the half breaks away for the return at the 15km mark. The single full marathon registration seems to have the least amount of participants at about 1,200 because it is challenging; not only because of the increasing darkness and drop in temperatures but also because of the changes in elevation on the full course.
The full marathon is no joke. You’ll be dealing with several rolling hills. If you choose this option, you’ll need to prepare for some 350 meters of elevation many times along the route. And don’t forget, you’ll be hitting that same slow, progressive ascent in that last few kilometers, just like the half marathoners, just double the time and distance later.
But don’t let the hills scare you away. You will start the race at the LuxExpo Center parking lot, beginning your journey with confetti and lots of supporters lining the street. You are in Kirchberg, the financial heart of the city, and will eventually pass through most of this section of town which will be relatively quiet with it being a weekend night. This area used to be only farm fields before the financial growth so you will find yourself running in between a few high rises and then quickly past fields and quaint neighborhoods.
After making quite a few turns, you eventually find yourself on the main road called John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Here’s where to begin appreciating a calm downhill while crossing a large bridge where at the end will lead you to the largest crowd support before heading into another neighborhood called Limpertsberg. Passing beautiful homes and restaurants, you get waved on by the neighbors out drinking Cremant as you make your way into the public park. Take caution here as the path becomes narrow to the size of a bike path leading you into the city center. This makes way to a fun alley bringing you past people cheering, shops, bars, restaurants and most impressively the Grand Duke of Luxembourg’s Palace. Here is where the half and full split and the half make their way back over the bridge towards the Expo.
The full continues on to the residential areas of Strasse and Hollerich, before passing nearby to the train station and then descending down into the valley called Petrusse next to a quiet river. To get back up though, of course, you will need to climb a big hill where you will venture back over the JFK bridge and back towards the expo. The coolest experience for all finishers is the indoor finish.
The last 100 meters of the race is inside the Expo with fans, DJs, disco lights, and big TVs showing you cross as an announcer yells your name. From there you are automatically accessible to your medals, drinks, snacks and your bag check. They even have portable showers and hair dryers so you can get prim and proper for the after party.
The big idea behind a night marathon is the party after. Upon finishing, participants can catch up with their loved ones outside the expo parking lot which was once the start that has now become an afterworld experience with acrobat fairies on stilts, music, pizza trucks, soft drinks, along with beer and champagne. A party not to be missed and well deserved after crushing 10, 21 or 42 kilometers!