(Photo: Key City).
Leiden, 14 May 2022, 9:00 am by the editors
Maikel Stolwijk will not defend his title at the Leiden Marathon on Sunday. Born and raised in Leiden, he runs the half marathon in his hometown and knows that someone else will therefore take over his title. Last October, Stolwijk was the first to cross the finish line at the Vismarkt in a time of 2:33:11. “I’m in the books and I can’t get out of that,” he says with pride to media partner Omroep West. “I relinquish my title with all my heart.”
“I took my chance”, says Stolwijk about his victory last October. In order to save costs and due to travel restrictions due to corona, the organization of the Leiden marathon had not invited international toppers from Kenya and Ethiopia. Talent from home soil could therefore run for the podium. Stolwijk ran the 42 kilometers fastest in the autumn and has since been able to call himself the first Leiden winner of the marathon. “Former winner Huub Pragt also lives in Leiden,” he says honestly. “Only I am the first winner born and raised here.”
The success has not done him any harm in recent months. “That victory had only nice sides. I am recognized in the running world and certainly in the region more people seem to know my name. In addition, I receive drinks or running articles, I can participate in other running events for free and I received a free hotel night at the Rotterdam marathon.”
Start and finish nearby
He doesn’t need a hotel on Sunday. “The start and finish are two hundred meters from my house,” he says enthusiastically. “That’s also great about the Leiden Marathon. I know the area and will enjoy it. Of course from the city, but also from walking through the Green Heart. You pass beautiful villages and running along the meadows is also nice. A little rest during the game.”
When Stolwijk took his victory in October, he did so in a new personal best: 2.33.11. Last April, a few seconds went by. In Rotterdam he even ran 2.32.56. His trip through the Port City is the reason why he is running the half and not the full marathon this weekend.
Leiden too soon after Rotterdam
“I have learned a wise lesson and that is that I can only run two marathons a year,” says the 38-year-old athlete. “It will take you three months to prepare for a marathon and three months to wind down. Then the Leiden marathon comes too soon after the Rotterdam marathon for me.”
It’s different with professional athletes, he explains. “They are tuned differently and can focus much better. I work forty to fifty hours a week, so I have much less time to walk. In addition, training internships and altitude internships are not for me. I’m sticking to those twice a year and it’s been going well so far.”
Stage spot not real
Other names will therefore end up on the Leiden stage. “The organization is betting on a course record,” says Stolwijk. “There will be swift gods. The start numbers one to ten have African names. So my successor will be among them.”
However, he also has goals of his own. In addition to ‘enjoying the environment and ambiance’, the Leiden runner is aiming for a place in the top ten of the half marathon. “It is a different discipline and I am not concerned with a podium place. That’s not real. I only have half a preparation and I am still working on my recovery.”