Budapest Half Marathon: Cash is King!

The Mo McCrohan Review: My last visit to the twin city  was in 1989 when I was younger and blissfully  unaware of the changes happening in Hungary at that time.Budapest 2.0 is a modern city steeped in history  with great architecture  on the banks of the Danube.Landing at the airport  there is a user should I say Mo friendly app for train ,bus tickets etc instructions  in English. Dublin Airport arrivals in comparison years behind.We were staying in the city centre a 40 minute bus ride from the airport. We were across from Madame Tussauds Pest a good landmark but at 30 euro a pop a bit steep .Hungry from the early morning flight we found a eggs themed restaurant  which had a good varied menu .Eggs n bacon later the bill was OK. But the waiter ,like that football announcer with the parenthesis on the winning score said  ” do you want to pay CASH ..or card,!!Florin went down far better with waiters etc than cards which they did take,Revolut working best.The race HQ was on Margaret  Island a picturesque  park stranding Pest and Buda on the Danube,It went smoothly  with directions in English though I nearly forgot  my race number .Race day was an early start 9am a cool morning, extra layers were required .
There were zones marked out per  km timesand a large queue for the portloos.I lined up just behind  the 1.45 pacers.The announcers were eurovision style Hungarian and then in English eurovision style.Having went to see Baldoyles Legally Blonde Production two days earlier the song Gay or European  from the show reminded  me of the tannoy announcer.Away we went at 9am in a course then went up the Pest side of the River and back on the Buda side.Weather conditions, dry and cool were perfect for running.It was not stacked with Supporters.Small groups near the bridges  ,some arty music also .Maybe ,it was the time of  day and  as we avoided the city  centre, meant the crowds were not large.? I tailed the 1.45 balloon but got stronger in the second half and passed the pacers.I concentrated on staying just ahead. The course was generally  flat with inclines on a couple of bridges.The last km was in Margarets Island and the techno eurovision chic and crowds grew.I finished my first race in the new age cat ended in 1.44,,.Declan my running comrade 77 mins first in his category  ,Welcome bottles of water awaited at the end.There was a real international  feel with runners from all over  Europe mingling at tge end.It was a very good event,flat course generally  ,good organisation. Post race ,keeping with the comrade theme,we visited Momento Park on the edge of the city .The Park holds many statues and relics from the soviet era including a statue of Stalins ‘ boots !The rest of the statue removed in the 1956 uprising,! 

There was a museum tour which was very informative  on post war Hungary. 
There was a gift shop which ranged from interested soviet memorials to tacky pithy memes on gift mugs,We found a local bar in the evening and had a few beers,after A dry day  ,bar one pine,on the Saturday,.Well deserved  if I say so myself!Dec had an experience at a ticket machine when a group of tourists surrounded  him to follow his every move in how to get tickets. The education was only briefly appreciated. Impatience set in when Dec’s order of a book of tickets took 10 minutes to hatch!Dec left the scene in haste !We discussed  future race trips whilst enjoying post race beers and keeping bar staff happy by paying in cash!A Park Run milestone  awaits next and a few celebrations  of a new age category  also await over the  next few weeks.


Mo McCrohan