Sat, May 28, 2022 - 21K - 01:58:26
21K Wittstock Half Marathon (01:58:26)
5K = 00:25:51 
10K = 00:55:08 
15K = 01:24:15 
20K = 01:52:20 
21K = 01:58:26 
Needed to stay up with the pace of fellow runners in our DCI May/June running challenge, so found and signed up for a half marathon in Wittstock, Brandenburg, a little walled village about an hour north of Berlin. It took an hour to get to Henningsdorf on the S-Bahn, and then another hour to Wittstock which revealed a little village with a long running history: apparently this was the 40th time this annual race has been run in this little village.  
Getting my number I found out that they didn't have an official place to put bags, so I kept asking until I found my way into a conversation with the wife of the organizer and she agreed to store my bag in her car, a nice gesture of small-town trust one doesn't really experience in Berlin. Without my jacket, I stayed in the Rathaus and then in the adjacent Rossmann until 4 minutes before the race, the air being too cool and windy to stand outside in shorts and a t-shirt: painful for waiting but perfect for running.  
Since my half-marathon training runs are always accompanied with 3 kilos of water on my back, it was a joy to run without that weight. We ran out of and then around the little walled city of Wittstock, then around a idyllic pond/lake, up to and through the local soccer stadium, then into the trees, the 10K and half-marathon runners soon after going our separate ways. I was following a pack of three runners after than but gradually lost them and was soon by myself running along forest pasts for multi-kilometer stretches hoping that I didn't miss an arrow sign. Once after about 15 minutes of growing doubt I was overjoyed to see a faded arrow painted into the soft forest path and a little sign pointing to the right.  
At about 11K I spotted a runner far up ahead and gradually closed on him, finally passing him at a water station where he stopped to walk and drink his water. I sped past and didn't notice him behind me until around 19K on the winding path coming back up to the pond/lake.  
When I saw the 1K-to-go sign, I looked at my watch and saw that I still had 8 minutes to get an under a 2-hour time, so I was quite certain I could do it. I ran hard and stayed ahead of my challenger right behind me, but as soon as we hit the straight street leading to the finish line, he took off like a deer, sprinting past me, beating me by 19 seconds in the end. I ran in steady for a 01:58:26, very happy to get under two hours. I can imagine if the route had not been so flat or the temperature had not been so perfectly cool, I wouldn't have been able to do it, so a nice combination of circumstances.  
There were only 31 people in the half marathon race, only six finished behind me, the slowest time being 02:09:13 so quite a competitive group. Since there were only three people in my age division, I received a third-place certificate and got to stand on the winner's block with Uwe and Lutz who ran a 1:28 and 1:32.  
My 5K time was a surprising 25:51 and overall I had a 5:37 pace, nice to be getting faster after my running hiatus from November to March.  
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