I ran the 4 Mijl van Groningen in 30minutes 32.9 seconds today, which was a whole 4 minutes off last year's result. It was also quite a bit faster than I expected to run on the basis of Wednesday's training or my result in the four-mile event at the Thaisner Dörpsrun two weeks ago, when I ran 34:05. On the other hand, that last run was done on a trajectory riddled with potholes and covered in cowpats, in windy, rainy, chilly conditions. And it was a couple hundred meters longer than 4 miles. On the third hand, today's summery heat wasn't exactly ideal for running either.
To be honest, the village event in Thesinge was more fun than the 4 Mijl van Groningen. Fewer people, and the village atmosphere was just too good to be true. The start/finish line ran between the school and the church, and pretty much the entire population turned up to cheer. The people guarding the route came out looking like absolute troopers, staying at their posts to guide everyone in the right direction in the cold rain. Oh, and there was even a guess-the-weight-of-the-pumpkin competition run by the schoolkids.
The 4 Mijl van Groningen is more of a real sporting event, with some top athletes on the roster running it in 18 minutes or thereabouts. Still, for the non-competitive part, it's also a celebration of running and of people's individual health and fitness goals.
One thing I did this year that I'm never going to do again is go to the starting area in my day clothes, change on location and hand over my stuff to the clothes trucks that the organisation provides. While all this is handled reasonably professionally, it's still a pain in the arse to have to deal with. My goal was to have a little more flexibility in picking out what outfit to wear, but as I arrived very late, I had to change in a hurry, then rush to the truck to hand my stuff over. So next year, I'm going back to paying attention to the satellite weather forecast, traveling to the start in my running clothes carrying my keys and maybe a few euros for emergencies, like I did last year. It's a lot less stressful.
30:33 is just a little slower than the last result accomplished by my boss at work, so I guess I'll never hear the end of it when I show up there tomorrow morning.
By the way, my start number was 17721, in case you want to check on my claim/look at embarrassing photographs when they're published.
See also: Jeroen's experiences. Seems he has the same problem that used to bugged me as late as last year (but which has since cleared up for me through careful training).