• Brownie

The ING Luxembourg Night Marathon

Updated: Jan 12



Q; What do you do when your city straddles a gorge-like valley and you want to attract runners to your marathon? A; Turn it into a giant street party, run it at night and bolt on a massive half and relay option! Well it sounded interesting and five Harriers thought to give it a go, so step forward (l-r) Darren O’Brien, Graham Maynard, Steve Brown and Kate Mitchell opting for the marathon with Jill Collis having to drop to the half because of a niggle. Firstly, it’s not flat. With an elevation gain of 287m and loss of 283m (thanks Garmin) this was the lumpiest city marathon I’ve ever run, coupled with more twists and turns than a 60s disco it sort of morphed into a really tough full and a really fun half. Both distances ran together from the 7pm start into the centre, through genuine street parties and squares full of beer-swilling people who were equally as encouraging as any London crowd. The narrow Old Town passages amplified the music and cheers and it really was a great atmosphere…until the split. As the overwhelming majority of runners run the half, the course was designed with them in mind and the party stayed with them all the way round whilst the full course turned out of the centre and into relative solitude and darkness. We all agreed that there were some parts of the event that would fall foul of Britain’s Health & Safety police, including the inflating of two full sized hot air balloons within the crowd at the start, and running through sections of parks that were completely unlit and little more than a footpath! But the Luxembourgers are a relaxed lot so just go with it and forget any hoped for time – this is an event rather than a race. Up steps, over bridges and along rivers. Blinded by strobe lights, peering through pitch darkness and back again – quite different from anything we’d run before and culminating with an indoor finish in the giant expo hall before crowds of the, err, well-refreshed! First home was Graham. Of the 1069 marathon finishers he was 161st and 9/83 in his age group. Steve was next, 417th and 7/34.  Darren ( 980th 155/196) and Kate (981st 22/32)  ran together and crossed the line hand in hand. Jim finished his half 148/489 in his group.

The organisers did a great job in taking over the city. They provided shuttle buses to and from the start/finish back to the centre and all-in-all did an excellent job for the 16,000 runners on the day, a new participation record. It was a great experience and if you’re thinking about it for next year we have some tips;-

  1. Run the half and have more fun. Don’t expect a PB so save the longer distance for another course.

  2. Luxembourg City is small and not a very happening place. You can fly in Friday, go out for the evening, run the next day, fly home Sunday and still see most things.

  3. Some went by Eurostar by way of a change, but it made for a long journey. Flying is very much quicker and the regular airport bus connection to the centre is excellent.

Luxembourg is a quirky race. An experience best suited to the half and relay distances and a location that is an ideal for a short break away. Interested?