Race Rundown: Schöppingen Volkslauf 5k, 25th August 2022

Race Rundown: Schoppingen Volkslauf 5k 

25 August 2022

by Jonathan Wallace

As many of you will know, over the last few years, a number of Harriers have travelled to Hamminkeln to take part in the CityLauf, a series of 5k and 10k races around our pretty twin town in North-West Germany. We have always been made very welcome by our hosts at Hamminkeln SV, who have also enjoyed several visits to Sedgefield to take part in the Serpentine race.

A number of us were planning to return to Hamminkeln for the first time since 2019 when the news broke that the CityLauf had been cancelled. However, one of our regular hosts, Rolf Lindau, suggested that we try an alternative race, the Schöppinger Volkslauf, which was taking place the same weekend, and so a group of us – Alda and Phil Houghton, Susan Wallace and I – decided to take on the challenge!

The race was on the Friday evening but Susan and I travelled a day early, enjoying an overnight stay in Duisburg and then visiting Duisburg’s most famous attraction, the Landschaftpark on Friday – an area previously used for coal mining and steel-making which, over the last 30 years has been transformed into a leisure park which celebrates rather than hides its industrial past.

After an interesting visit – and the obligatory Currywurst – we made the journey up to Schoppingen for the race, where we met Alda, Phil and Rolf, and made our way down to the Vechtestadion where the race was due to start.

The start time for the 5k race was a slightly unusual 17:10 -as it was nestled in among a series of other races, including a fiercely competitive junior race around a cinder track – and we were there in good time. However, in sharp contrast to our previous experiences at the CityLauf, the race was late in starting – by over half an hour! Despite the myth, not everything in Germany runs on time!

When the race got started, at about 5:45, the temperature was around 24C – quite normal for northern Germany in August (and a lot cooler than the 34C on the day we arrived) but still pretty warm to me and therefore a race where I would need to pace myself! However, I’ve never been great at sticking to a race plan, and as we set off, I saw Rolf Lindau just ahead of me, and decided on a new plan – try and stick with Rolf!

That worked quite well for the first mile… but then Rolf pulled away – and when we hit the first real incline, I fell further behind and spent the rest of the race trying to keep him in sight! Rolf finished in 21:55, which he later told us was a new PB for 5k! I obviously picked the wrong race to try and keep up with him but finished in 23:08 – well off Rolf’s pace but still a decent run out.

However, my “battle” with Rolf was only the warm-up for the main event – Houghton v Houghton! Building on his recent good running, Phil set the pace with an excellent start. However, despite protestations beforehand that she hasn’t been running well, Alda’s competitive instinct meant that she hung in for the first couple of miles, before showing a turn of pace and edging past Phil with about a mile to go. Once in front there was no stopping her and she romped home in a great time of 28:12, with Phil following shortly afterwards in a very respectable 29:16. She hadn’t realised during the race, but Alda was also First Lady – a fitting reward for a great run, which made the headlines in the local paper!

Taking part in her first event since her hip op a couple of years ago, Susan competed in the 5km walking race, finishing in third place – and ahead of some of the 5km runners, capping a successful race for the Sedgefield contingent.

After the race, we dashed back to join our friends from Hamminken SV at a BBQ. It was great to lots of familiar faces, including Hermann Terrhorst – previously the organiser of the CityLauf and a regular visitor to Sedgefield over the years. Ever since his last visit – when Pete King introduced him to darts at Coxhoe WMC – Hermann has set up his own Darts Team – the Ally Polly’s! He plans to bring his new team when he next visits Sedgefield and challenged us to a match – so we need to form a team and get some practice in!

We spent the rest of the weekend with our hosts – Thomas, Andrea, Doris and Friedel – for a cycle tour on Saturday – finishing the ride with a round of Crazy Golf (where we were comprehensively beaten by our ever-competitive German hosts, Andrea and Thomas!) before we headed to the Küpper Gasthof, a lovely old German pub / restaurant in Dingden near Hamminkeln.

Susan and I had an early start the following day – heading back to Duisburg to watch Thomas compete in a Half Ironman event at the Duisburg Sportpark. Perhaps inspired by our sporting achievements earlier in the weekend (!), Thomas rose to the occasion, completing the event in 4 hrs 58 mins and 34 seconds – well within his sub 5 hours target.

So, another great weekend in Germany, and another very warm welcome from our German friends. Hopefully we will see them all next year – in Sedgefield and in Hamminkeln.

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