Josh: Budapest Marathon 2018

It was never my intention to run a marathon before I signed up to Budapest. I was always the one to climb mountains and go on hikes. I didn’t know what to expect but after months of training I caught the running bug and I couldn’t wait to get to Budapest and run my first ever marathon.

When we arrived in Budapest on Friday night, I fell in love with the city instantly. Everything you could want was in reach, including bars, clubs, food markets and all the tourist attractions. Being eager to explore the city me and some of the group headed into Budapest to explore some of the sights it had to offer. We eventually ended up at a sky bar that offered beautiful views overlooking the city and St Stephen’s Basilica.

The team getting prepped less than an hour before the race start.

The team getting prepped less than an hour before the race start.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to take part in a pre-race training run with the marathon reps and some of the group. This was the first glimpse I got of the city during the day, safe to say I wasn’t disappointed by its awe-inspiring beauty. We ran along the Danube River in glistening sunlight and could see all the sights the city had to offer including the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. After the training run the entire group headed to the marathon expo centre. This was when I got my first taste of a race atmosphere and I loved it. It only made me more eager to run the marathon the next day.

After leaving the marathon expo the rest of the day was dedicated to exploring the city. One of the highlights for me (being a vegan) was the huge variety of vegan food options that were available in the city. Mac and Cheese was a glorious way to load some carbs for race day. It was also the perfect opportunity to spend some time with the group and get to know others – their motivations for running the marathon, how confident they feel. You supported each other, made new friends and created a bond in the group that would last not only through race day, but after the trip had ended.   

Sunday was race day, the big moment had come. I’d done all the training, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come next. Once the starting line horn sounded, I had a rush of adrenaline through my body like no over I had ever experienced before (and I’ve jumped out of planes at 10,000ft and climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world!). The atmosphere along the route was mad. You had spectators cheering your name, blaring music from their cars, handing out food, drinks, alcohol…. I’d never seen anything like it. The best part was the thousands of runners you had alongside you throughout the entire marathon. I made conversations with people from all walks of life, different countries. Some people I saw were even running the marathon bare foot! You felt part of one big family, everyone supported each other.

Josh around the Budapest Marathon course

Once I crossed the finish line, I felt such joy, accomplishment and relief. I never felt so good, despite the fact I could barely walk. I knew I overcame one of the greatest challenges of my life – which was training, fundraising for and completing a marathon. I had pushed myself to the limits physically and raised thousands of pounds for a fantastic charitable cause. The meal and shower you will have post-marathon are two of the most glorious things you will ever experience in your life. What also stuck out for me was the walk back to the accommodation form the finish line. The sun was beginning to set, creating a beautiful backdrop over the city sights and Danube river. I began to reflect on everything I had achieved and learnt from the entire marathon experience and had the chance to reflect with other runners. It was the perfect way to end the day, before a much-deserved night out in Budapest, followed by a flight home the next day to end the marathon journey.

Also, I just want to leave a message for those who will be running their first marathon in Budapest later this year – you only live once, so live life to the fullest. Make the most of the opportunity, take it all in and be proud of what you will have achieved. No other experience in your life will compare to reaching your fundraising target and crossing that finish line, I promise you.

Keen to find out more about the Budapest Marathon and our other European Marathon experiences, check out what we have on offer here.

Felix BaileyComment