08 August 2018
After several races abroad, I can confidently vouch for the races in the Hungarian capital.
We often take for granted, what we already have. It was the same for me with the races organized in Budapest, as I've been running them for years. Having participated in a few races abroad recently, however, made me open my mind, and appreciate these events a lot more.
If You are thinking about starting to run races abroad, I can highly recommend Budapest, and here are the 5 reasons, why:
It is not a secret, that I am not very fond of big cities, and prefer small towns closer to nature. Thus, Budapest is definitely not my favorite city in Hungary, but even I have to admit, that our capital is full of beauty. If You don't believe me, watch this short clip:
And the best thing is: if You come to one of the big races (Telekom Vivicitta Spring Half Marathon, Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon or SPAR Budapest Marathon), You will see most of the things shown in the video above, as the races usually stay close to the Danube, providing an excellent view!
I have been to some races in really nice cities, where I did not see anything from the beautiful parts of it. That is always a bit disappointing, but You will never experience that in Budapest. The races usually cross the Danube several times on different bridges, and You run along the river on both sides for a while. As a result, You got to see by beautiful places along the river like the Parliament or the Buda Castle from really close and also from the other side of the river. Usually, You also got to cross the Castle tunnel tunnel, and the race center is always in a nice green area, either on Margaret Island or the in the City Park that is right next to the Heroes' Square.
Budapest not only has beautiful things to show, but it really does show them on the races.
Hungary is the south-east-most country of Central Europe. As a result, prices are definitely lower for most of the things here than in Western Europe for example. Races are not exceptions either: if You register on for the autumn half marathon early bird, it will only cost You 40 EUR, or 28 if You are a returning runner, 19 if You are a student.
Price, however, is only one part of the equation. What about the quality of the race, the refreshments, etc? Well, my dear reader, in this aspect, the races in Budapest are definitely among the best ones according to my experience. The organizers are not greenhorn newbies. The three races mentioned above will be organized for the 33rd time each. This means, that the organizers have accumulated a lot of experience, how to organize a good race, that the runners really enjoy, constantly improving based on original ideas, and observing other races in the world.
Just to mention a few things:
It is also important to note, that the organizers are fully prepared for foreign runners. This is not surprising, as thousands of them are already visiting Budapest every year for a while now. So You will not need to google translate your way through everything if You choose Budapest :-)
Also, take into consideration, that You will probably want to spend a few days in the city (or country) before and after the race. Hungary will be easier on Your wallet not just at the registration, but also in booking a hotel, visiting a spa, or having a nice dinner with local specialties.
You will get "western quality" for "eastern prices".
Having more than 3 big races annually for the last 33 years made Budapest a city, which has running (events) in its culture. This means, that there aren't really any "deserted" parts of the track, there will always be someone cheering and rooting for You. Some organizations, such as the charity group Bátor Tábor and the Adidas Runners always deploy several cheering stations, and let's just say, that they are not the silent and calm type of people.
If that weren't enough, just check out on the video below, how many music stations the marathon had last year:
On the top of all these, You will find people running with costumes, pushing baby carts, etc. You will always see people in the light blue shirts of Suhanj!, a group, that helps sharing the joy of running with disabled people let them be visually impaired or stuck to a wheelchair. The overall atmosphere is pretty well presented in the video below:
You will never get bored on these races.
Let's say You are not up to a marathon or half-marathon yet. Or You definitely are, but Your family is not. You don't need to worry, all of these events offer relays and shorter distances as well. If You have kids, have a look at the family oriented events on the day before the race.
The races mentioned so far are the big races in Budapest, but there are some smaller ones as well, and plenty of other races within the country. If You like ultra distances, or want to have the perfect team-building experience with Your running co-workers, then run 212 kilometers around Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe.
Everyone can find the distance they prefer.
If You are already here, don't just run. Relax in a bathhouse after the race, and have a nice trip within our beautiful country. Believe me, it has a lot to offer :-)
Hungary is an excellent choice for a vacation.
So, have You ever run a race in Hungary? What are Your experiences?