December 10th, 2017
As mentioned elsewhere, I was not lucky in the lottery and did not get a seat for the Guangzhou Marathon. The "green card scheme" - guaranteeing a seat in 2017 if participated in all previous events from 2012 to 2016 - did not help me either, as I had run the Honolulu Marathon in 2016 instead of Guangzhou in December. But with a little help from a colleague and her connections, I was able to get a seat for Guangzhou and I gladly accepted it, even though I had already registered for the marathon in Dongguan two weeks before Guangzhou (see report here).
Of course I was curious to see how the experiment - two marathons within two weeks - would turn out. Between the two marathons, only a 20 km run was planned, which I ran without much effort. A short run on Thursday before the marathon on Sunday was intended as a warm-up.
The weather on Sunday morning was good, temperatures around 12 degrees and for later in the morning 20 degrees were predicted. Ideal running temperatures. After the unnecessary Mini Marathon was cancelled this year, the start at ZhuJiang New Town (HaiXinSha) had been moved to the TianHe Stadium in the eastern centre of the city for the first time. For me, this was a big advantage - I could walk from my flat to the start in 20 minutes.
New course starting at TianHe Stadium in the east of the city:
But of course it was a lot tighter here and the 18000 marathon runners and the 12000 half marathon runners stood quite close together around the stadium in the starting blocks printed on the bib.
From my point of view, moving the start to the city centre makes sense, as it means that the first 4km are run in the city before the next 15km, which are a bit more boring. But even on this half marathon course, which ends at the fair (PaZhou), there was a surprising amount of activity. Normal spectators but also sports groups (mostly older ladies) who moved their early morning sports to the course and danced with all kinds of fans, flags etc. to greet the runners.
I had already met some of these Chinese veterans in Dongguan. Of course, they immediately recognised me.
The Guangzhou Marathon now has IAAF Road Race Silver status, and the popularity of this event has increased greatly in recent years due to the overall rise in popularity of running in China.
After the half marathon and marathon distances separate after about 18km, the marathon runners pass the Canton Tower after about 20km and then enter the older part of Guangzhou. (BinJiang Dong Lu, BinJiang Zhong Lu and BinJiang Xi Lu) The streets become narrower (with still four lanes) and there are also more spectators along the course. Shortly after the 32Km mark, the RenMin Bridge is crossed and the course continues east on the other side of the Pearl River for about 10Km before reaching the finish line near the Asia Games Stadium.
Up to km 32 I was still optimistic that even a much better time than at the Dongguan Marathon would be possible. However, a "toilet visit" at km 32 that could not be postponed ... slowed me down a bit and I could not make up for this time loss. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the final time, which was 1 minute better than in Dongguan. The experiment of two marathons within two weeks was successfully completed.
The organisation as a whole was good. Shortly after crossing the finish line, it was possible to call up all the finishing times measured at the checkpoints via a special link.