I wrote this 10 years ago so things have probably changed but even 10 years ago running in Canada was not like this!
My husband and I recently spent four years living in southern Germany with our two small children. I have been running for years, so when we moved to Germany I continued to run when I could. Once my German was good enough to fill out an entry form I set about entering a local race.
The first challenge was paying. Forget paying on line with your Visa card. These races required pre-payment by bank transfer. I had to go to my bank and explain, in German, that I wanted to transfer money from my bank account into the race bank account. I spent almost as much time working on my German for the trip to the bank as I did working on my running for the race.
My first race was a local 10k in Konstace a town of 50,000 on the German Swiss border. The race was 3 laps around the altstadt (old city). It was a bit like running around the Byward market after work on a Friday. The course was roped off but every once in a while you had to run around or over a frustrated shopper.
There were several outdoor cafes along the course. All of which were full of people drinking beer (recall that I was in Germany). It was very hot and there were people standing beside the town fountain with buckets. If you gave them the OK they would dip the buckets in the fountain and pour the water over you as you passed. I noticed that this service was provided much more freely for the women runners. This provided great entertainment to the men drinking beer in the cafes along the route. A sort of rotating wet T-shirt contest. The beer drinkers commented loudly as we passed by. Thinking back, I am not sure if the people, by the fountains with the buckets, were sent there by the race organizers or the local café owners.
Of 343 runners only 42 of us were women. A ratio I have not encountered since the early ‘80s. Despite the low numbers the women were an impressive bunch. I saw the women’s winner at the start. She was fixing her make-up. I thought, ha, there is one person I can beat. She ran 37.12, I guess she was fixing her make-up for the post race photo. My time of 45.21 earned me last place in the w35-39.
The winner of the men’s race ran 32.07 and 85 of the 301 men finished in less than 40 minutes. The only runner who finished in more than 59 minutes was wearing a three-piece suit complete with tie. It was + 30 C and as I passed him I though, man I hope he used lots of Vaseline because that has got to chafe in all the wrong places. I can only assume that he lost a bet with his drinking buddies.
My mother was visiting me at the time and she ran the race with me. She was the only woman over 60 in the race so we did not leave empty handed. She won a fleece blanket an odd prize at +30 C but a prize nonetheless!