It was like last year: first signs of real spring and the City Pier City Loop in The Hague at the same time. Unlike last year, the Haagse Omloop, the race cycling seasons kickoff was not on the Saturday before but will be the Sunday after. So I was a lot more relaxed to run the 5 km in The Hague. Although it is all called City Pier City, only the half marathon is seeing the pier and the sea. The 5 and 10 km stay in the city. But it is a nice track, wide roads, lots of space, passing the peace palace, Scheveningse Bosje. And we managed again to get six Europeana jerseys into the crowd, six out of 5,126 that participated in the 5 km.

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Our new office is accessible on Sunday and very much in walking distance from the start of the CPC Loop – ideal to get dressed before and after the run. For some reason, the seagull was more interested in me than in the thousands of runners that made their way to the Malieveld, 9 floors further below.

Joris and myself were pushing as close as possible to the start line, lessons learned from past experiences. The noise is annoying, why does it have to be so loud, it is not a concert, it is a run. Fortunately no animators like before the start of the night run in September. At 11:00 we were all off. A few metres to the right, the 20 min man was running (‚follow me and you finish in 20 min‘), and I was able to stay very close and only lost 5 seconds on the first kilometre. That was great, but then the headwind made it more difficult and I lost him on my way around the peace palace. Anyway, I would have never expected to finish in 20 minutes.

It was getting hard with the wind, and the 2nd and 3rd kilometre took me about 9 minutes in total. The downhill in Bankastraat was a relief, a bit of recovery and ready for the final. I finished the next kilometre in 4 minutes again, great, if I can keep that I should be able to finish under 22 minutes. I was hoping for 22 something and now it looks even more promising. But the final kilometre was long and hard. The sun in the face, I closed my eyes a little bit, everything became a bit blurry while I tried to push further. People were calling my name, but I did not recognised anybody I know, cool, this is probably why the name is on the badge.

The home stretch is long, very long. You see the finish, you see the clock ticking, but it is not getting closer, come on…I finished in 21:48, my best 5 km ever, 179 out of 5,126, I’m happy. Behind the finish line I see Joris. He was hoping for a time around 19:30. He exceeded expectations as well, 18:49, 50 out of 5,126, incredible, amazing, congratulations, personal best for him as well. He is so fast, I probably could train harder and more, I would only be able to go further and longer but never reach his speed: fast and furious vs slow and steady.

Next in the sequence was Pavel, 23:02, 299 out of 5,126. I think this was a personal best for him too. He improved a lot compared to last year, really great. And then we had a special guest in the team, Niek, Harry’s son, finished in 28:14 as 1,023rd, congratulations. Harry himself finished with the same time, as a pace maker for his son, great job. Last but not least: Nienke finished in just under 30 minutes (29:59), on position 1,489.

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The Europeana Running Team 2015, just after the successful completion of the 5 km version of the CPC Loop, right at the Malieveld.

After the run we checked if spring really has started, which is the case when the crocuses are flowering at the Lange Voorhout. We can confirm this and celebrated with uitsmijters and crocettes at De Posthoorn.

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A sea of flowers in front of Hotel des Indes at Lange Voorhout.

This was a great start in the season, lots of hard training on dark and grey and wet winter days was worth the effort, if you can run to your personal best that early in the year, in great atmosphere, great weather and in a great team. The Europeana Running Team came back in 2015 and should come back for the CPC Loop in 2016 as well, looking forward to it – allez culture.