Stage 4: A Budaful Race
“It is fatal to know too much at the outset. Boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his route as the novelist who is over-certain of his plot.” – Paul Thoreau
I read this quote recently and it instantly struck a cord. Interpretation of it is open to the reader, and despite my mother and I having understood it very differently, we but could also see each other's point of view. For me though, it sums up our RunEurope weekends perfectly.
We've registered for our race, booked our flights and accommodation and found some random facts out about the destination, but that's it. The rest we discover when we arrive.... so let's see what Budapest had in store for us.
Our journey began with an incident on our train to Luton, a poor young girl had her purse taken from her table on route to her work Saturday morning. We did our best to help but with our plane a-calling we were limited in what we could do before rushing off.
All other travel on route to Budapest went swimmingly, with the commute from Budapest airport to the city centre very easy via bus and tube. After locating and settling into our modest hostel, the day was spent walking the Danube, staring at the 3rd largest government building in the world and working up an appetite at a food market in the centre of town. We rounded this off with a lovely evening having dinner at Ket Szerecsen restaurant with Cameron's auntie & uncle, Gina & Ed. They managed to go to the Opera in Budapest for £3, cheaper than an actual tour of the building!!
Despite getting an early(ish) night’s rest, on race day we were both feeling jaded before the start. Conditions were.... well it was very warm, I'll say that, but I did not appreciate the gale force winds that came with it! Still, we took our place amongst the 29,998 other entrants and set off on what would be a mixed race for both of us.
I felt heavy, too many carbs in the week, not enough sleep. Cameron's legs had not recovered from the intensity of his squat routine in the gym. But the course was beautiful, taking you from Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube, down along the Pest side of the city, past the government building, across the chain bridge to Buda and down alongside Gellert Hill. So far, it's by far the most beautiful city half marathon I've done. And maybe that's what spurred us on.
I managed to get a personal best, breaking the 1:30 mark with 1:29:08. When we started this year and our journey I never thought that would be possible. Just shows what a beautiful course can do. Cameron finished in a great 1:47, especially considering the issues he was having with his leadfilled legs.
After having a quick celebratory pint in the Margaret Island park, we spent 4 hours relaxing in Szechenyi bath with our friends Ellie, Georgie and (newbie) Lauren. It was interesting and great to soak up all aspects of the experience... the local culture, our bodies to aid our recovery and the much needed catch up with our friends. The baths are a must for anyone visit the city.
And on to the celebrations! After visiting Szimpla Kert, a legendary venue in the Budapest night scene, we ended up partying the night away in the ruin pub of Instant: a venue with 26 rooms, 7 bars, 2 gardens and 7 stages. How we managed to find the exit I don't know! What a great night we had with the tequilas, tunes and dance moves all flowing freely.
Whatever energy we had left on the Monday, we used to take in the Budapest National Gallery grounds and the breathtaking views from Gellert Hill. From this spot you can see the whole of Budapest in all directions, which explains why the Guinness world record for the largest panoramic photo was taken there. Following a lovely leaving lunch with our friends, we were off back to London happy in the knowledge it won't be the last time I visit the Hungarian capital.
Stage 4 you've been amazing, I can't wait to experience the remaining 8.
Oh and the girl who lost her purse? Well someone had picked it up thinking it had been left, found her on Facebook and took it to her work to return it. Reassuring and lovely to hear how great people can be.