Day 8

30th August – Nistertal to Giessen

Another sunny day dawned for the final leg of our epic run and more importantly Stan’s birthday!

Happy 12th Birthday Stan – you’re a star (and all but your parents realised that it wasn’t your 11th Birthday!) 

David and Annie set off early and headed up the steep hill out of Nistertal.  They weren’t the only ones to opt for early morning exercise – Bess and Stan amongst others took advantage of the pool for a pre-breakfast swim.

David and Annie made good time (obviously fuelled by the impressively large salads at the pizzeria the previous evening) and Adrian F and Steve had already set off on the second leg of the day, before the black bus had even left the hotel.  A supermarket carpark was the arranged rendez-vous point so we were able to make use of the shop to stock up on supplies.

Keeping an eye on the schedule, there was some concern there was no sign of the second bus.  Eventually they arrived, with news of more navigational issues for the runners, this time finding the meet up point in town.  Conscious that the rendez-vous point with the police in Giessen was fixed, Lorraine and Janet decided to set off on their leg in advance of the arrival of the baton to try to make up some time.  

They handed the imaginary baton over to Sarah and Sam accompanied by Adrian H, who felt he just hadn’t run enough km the last few days.

Runners and baton were all reunited for the next changeover and we were confident that the final four pairs of runners would be able to complete their legs without navigational errors thanks to the cycle support from Rob.  So we were back on track for the rendez-vous with the Giessen runners and looking forward to seeing them.

Fiona’s language skills were required again to translate some fascinating information on a display about a World War 1 bomber at one changeover point, so much so that we almost missed Sarah and Annie running in.

Back on the road again we spotted the first road signs directing us to Giessen and it seemed as if in no time at all we were in Asslar, where the first team of runners from Giessen were there to greet us.  It was so great to see some familiar faces from the Giessen to Winchester trip last year, as well as others who had come along to run with us on the final legs.

There was quite a crowd of runners and cyclists who set off down the road towards our final destination.  We had three further rendezvous points, allowing some of our runners to join the ever growing crowd for at least some of the final leg.

Then the final changeover point on the outskirts of Giessen where yet more runners and the police escort awaited us. What an experience running in to Giessen! Police cars leading the way, stopping traffic in all directions, and a huge crowd accompanying us, waving flags from both our towns and countries. There was a finishing line erected at the town hall with the Mayor and the press in attendance. Adrian has to do an impromptu speech (which in his opinion was excellent! …. let’s hope that video never makes the light of day), and we moved on to the town hall where a Union Flag was draped, and lots of healthy snacks on offer.

A wonderful day was concluded with a reception at the Bootshaus on the river Lahn.

It was fascinating to watch a slide show of the Giessen runners trip to Winchester last year, occasionally spotting places that we too had run through.  Entertainment was also provided by a quiz about Giessen and we learnt that Justus Von Liebig, German scientist after whom the university in Giessen is named, invented marmite!

Stan’s memorable 12th birthday was concluded with birthday cake and renditions of Happy Birthday in other English and German.  I don’t think he’s going to forget this birthday in a hurry!