After ten months of build-up to the Frankfurt Marathon, we finally arrived in the bustling city. Myself (Dan), Ollie and James form the team "Frankfurt4Cancer", supporting the New Zealand Cancer Society. We had all been backpacking around Europe in the months leading up to race day, on our gap year between high school and university.
Our journey began back in January 2023 when we signed up for the race, not knowing what an adventure it would be. In the lead-up, we were training as much as we could, given the circumstances of our travelling plans, and were excited come race day.
This was all of our first official road marathons, and the race atmosphere was like nothing we had experienced before. There were 13,934 people from 102 countries competing in the marathon, with a total of 26,826 including the parallel events, such as the half-marathon and marathon relay.
After waking up with a head cold, and a stressful time getting to the start line, we took our places just before 10 am and after a few nervous minutes we set off. The supporters created an unreal environment, with constant cheering, loud music and overflowing encouragement. The first few kilometres went by quickly, with the highlight being seeing the pros effortlessly cruise past in the other direction.
Reaching the halfway point seemed a breeze, and then it more or less all went downhill from there. I had stomach issues (starting before the race), so a quick bathroom break was needed at around the 21-kilometer mark. Our team split after this, with myself and James battling at the back, and Ollie maintaining our goal pace up the front. At around kilometre 28 I lost track of James and we were all running solo. After a large effort trying to make ground on Ollie my hips and pelvic muscles locked up, and due to some shoe issues my Achilles, shins and ankles were taking turns causing large amounts of pain.
At kilometre 39, deep in the hurt locker, I stumbled across Ollie sitting in the gutter surrounded by paramedics. He had pushed himself too hard and had nearly passed out. Finding him turned out to be a godsend, as I doubt the paramedics would have allowed him to continue if I hadn't.
The next 3.2 kilometres were hell, a proper mental and physical challenge. We walked, as Ollie was barely able to stand, leaning against me, through the biting cold, rain and wind. Not sure if we would finish, we were determined, even if it took us several hours. As much of an exaggeration as it sounds, we would have if it were necessary.
With a kilometre and a half to go, James caught up, and after we initially told him to keep going, he stopped and waited for us so that we could complete the last 500 meters together. Managing to run into the indoor finish area, the finish line was finally in sight.
Crossing the finish line, a weight lifted off our shoulders, we had done it. We may have been shivering, and our legs may have been shot to pieces, but we had done it.
Our goal time had been 3:30, but finishing at 4:05 was not something that we were disappointed with at all. Going to hell and back taught us a lot about ourselves, and our physical limits.
The Cancer Society is a charity that we have personal connections to, so it was an obvious choice to raise money for them, and we are very close to reaching our $ 3,000 donation goal, with $2,850 at the time of printing.
Cancer impacts so many of us, with 71 New Zealanders diagnosed every day. The vital work that the Cancer Society does cannot happen without the help of everyday people. By donating, you can help fund cancer research, prevention and support services for people with cancer and their whānau when they need it most. Even as little as forgoing a coffee and donating $5 instead.
We went through hell in the last few kilometres, and we want our efforts to count for something, so we would be incredibly grateful for any money that you can spare. The link to donate is below.
We couldn't have completed this race without GU. Their energy gels kept us going in the later stages of the race when we felt like giving up. The "Jet Blackberry" flavour in particular was a hit. A massive thank you to them for allowing us to train to our high standard, and to be able to reach to achieve our goals.
Help Dan, Ollie and James Make a difference, Donate to Dan, Ollie & James' Cancer Society Fundraiser