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Features METRO Marathon Düsseldorf

03 June 2016, 10am

Rhine metropolis offers leafy boulevards, ultramodern architecture, fast times and the ‘longest bar in the world’

A run around two rivers

METRO GROUP Marathon Düsseldorf
Sun 24 April 2016

Düsseldorf is a city of two rivers: the Düssel gave the city its name, the Rhine its importance.

The former fishing village at the mouth of the idyllic River Düssel, which flows into the great River Rhine, looks back on more than 800 years of eventful history. Goethe’s visit left its traces, as well as the musicians Robert and Clara Schumann; Napoleon named it “Little Paris”.

According to the latest surveys Düsseldorf is the sixth best city to live in anywhere in the world. It is an international business and financial centre with a famous zest for life and with lots of carnivals and fairs attended annually by millions of people. Luckily for the city during the Second World War German resistance to the advancing Allied Forces was limited in this area. The war ended a few weeks earlier than in most other parts of Germany and consequently Düsseldorf suffered less destruction than many other cities. It is a big city but most of the sights are within walking distance of each other.

Surprisingly for such a large metropolis, Düsseldorf is very green with lots of parks — most of them in English and French styles. Many of the city’s streets are lined with huge trees. As a result you can easily find shade along the entire course. All 42km are completely traffic-free. That helps, because the late spring in Düsseldorf is fantastic: you smell spring flowers in the air, you hear the birdsong, and you see thousands of wildly blooming magnolias, pink and white Japanese cherries, tulips and daffodils.

Düsseldorf celebrated its 725th anniversary in 2013. The city harmoniously balances its old European architecture of churches, palaces and mansions — dating mostly from the 14th to 18th centuries — with its showcase ultramodern architecture like the world-famous ‘dancing’ buildings of Frank Gehry. The Marathon course passes by each and every one of all these interesting buildings, palaces and attractions. The famous Königsallee is included in the Marathon tour: a large boulevard and the main fashion center of Europe that combines the stores of Fifth Avenue with cafes of Montmartre. There is a long canal running along the middle of it as if imported by magic from Amsterdam.

The people of Düsseldorf love life. It is clearly visible in their cafes — crammed full at any time of day. The relatively late starting time of the Marathon at 09.00 is not accidental. Most Germans like to sleep in on Sunday and the organisers want to make sure that every resident of Düsseldorf is on the street to cheer the runners.

The marathon course is totally flat and extremely fast: the course record stands at 2:07:48. The city has a very large Japanese community. Many of them participate and the rest stand under the sakura trees cheering. They add a gentle and exotic touch to this otherwise European Marathon.

The finish of the race is in the heart of the Old City close to the romantic Rhine River. The broad promenade just metres away from the finish line is turned into an ‘Oktoberfest’ beer festival for runners. Hours after the race was over runners were still sitting at tables enjoying the view and drinking the unlimited free beer. It was non-alcoholic but if anyone needed the real stuff right under the promenade there is one of Düsseldorf’s most famous attractions: the longest bar in the world comprising more than 300 cafes, bars, restaurants, and every kind of drinking joint that residents of Düsseldorf could think of.

In total more than 16,000 runners from 80 countries participated in this year´s event which included both a relay and a children’s run.

We look forward to greeting runners from all over the world next year on 30 April 2017: see you in Düsseldorf.

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