Marathons: Paul #57, Leah #47 : Barcelona Marathon 2015
15th March 2015, Barcelona, Spain
Finish Time = 3:58:02
We were back in the UK for a family event and had a weekend to spare. What better way than to combine a visit to a vibrant city and a European marathon?!
Within 48 hours of landing in the UK we were back on a plane bound for Barcelona, our body clocks well and truly confused from a mix of Eastern Time (work), Mountain Time (home), GMT (UK) and now CET (Spain). After checking in at the fantastic Renaissance Barcelona hotel we saw that the expo was being held 2 miles away. Perfect way to combine a pre-marathon tune up run with an expo visit.
We ran over to the expo, picked up our numbers and had a look around. After a run back to the hotel we explored some of the surrounding streets and found a nice restaurant for a pasta dinner. This wasn’t very easy as we were eating early to get a good night’s sleep, and a lot of places were closed for siesta from 4pm – 8pm. In total we ended up covering 9 miles on foot that day.
On the morning of the marathon we got ready and had breakfast. The start/finish was at the same place as the expo, 2 miles from the hotel. What do you do when your marathon start is 2 miles away? Well we are Maniacs after all. So we used the same strategy as the expo and ran the 2 miles to the marathon start. We brought some kit bags with us to check, mainly to hold some warmer clothing for when we had finished. We knew we’d need to walk the 2 miles back again at the end of the run and your body temperature drops at the end of a marathon.
Once we arrived though we wished we hadn’t brought bags. The crush of people trying to get into the bag drop building was huge. We lined up and with millimetre step-shuffles, eventually got in to drop off the bags. By the time this had happened the race was due to start so we then exited and joined the mass of people trying to get into their starting pens. We looked around for toilets but that was a lost cause, there were a few portaloos near our starting corral but with the queues, no way we’d be able to use them in time.
We got into our starting pen which was just around the corner in the road. The start of the race kicked off at 8:30am to cheers and music, except we didn’t move anywhere. It turned out they were doing wave starts.
Another couple of songs and more cheering (and 10 more minutes) and it was the turn of our corral. With confetti drifting and dancing in the air we ran across the start line, through the huge columns either side and the Plaça d’Espanya in front of us.
The route was an excellent tour of the city and ran by many impressive buildings and monuments. Here’s a map of the course:
Our plan for the marathon was to just take it easy and enjoy the sights and the event. It wasn’t a US State for which we needed a sub 4 time and we had one of those coming up 2 weeks later where we would need a strong run. Leah had caught a cold from all the travel and body clock time changes too.
It was great to be running through the streets of Barcelona and the Spanish supporters seemed to be enjoying the day as much as the runners, their renowned festive spirit was in full flow. There were many excited runners taking part too, spotting people they knew in the crowds and shouting out various things we didn’t really understand. From the crowds we heard a lot of “Venga venga venga!!” which we found out translates to “come on” (x3) as well as “Vamonos!!” (let’s go). The weather was perfect, the day before it had been raining but for marathon day we had sun with cool temperatures.
The aid stations were well stocked with bottled water, powerade and some had oranges, bananas and nuts. We weren’t sure of every building we saw but that didn’t make them any less spectacular to admire. Of course the Gaudi hotel and La Sagrada Familia were instantly recognisable.
Towards the end of the marathon we ran along the road adjacent to the sea with great views over the ocean and the breeze in our faces. We had run the first half in 1:58 and so expected to be slower in the second half, probably finishing over 4 hours, but we weren’t concerned with our finishing time. However we’d actually kept pretty steady even without trying and looking at our watches we were on course for just under. We sped up a bit as a lot of people were slowing down and in places where the roads narrowed it was difficult to keep moving at our pace. After a fair bit of dodging and jumping left and right we saw the big pillars approaching from where we’d started and ran towards the finish. Much like London, even the finish was a crowded affair but we crossed the line in 3:58 to claim another sub 4.
After collecting our medals and stretching out to took quite a while to get back into the building to collect our bags again and then we had to queue to get them back too. We’d actually been given a really good heat sheet (with arms and a hood and everything) which would have actually been just fine in keeping us warm enough on the walk home.
We walked the 2 miles back to the hotel, showered and changed and then walked down Las Ramblas to get a well deserved beer. Later on we met up with our friend Kay and her adorable 2-year old son Noah who now live in Barcelona. We walked around the port and had a drink, catching up on life in Spain. We finished off the day by feasting on tapas and red wine.
In total we covered 9 miles on foot the day before the marathon, 35 miles the day of the marathon and a further 6 miles the day after, when we visited the Gaudi Cathedral, climbing up and down stairs in the towers! It’s all good training, right?
Tips for the Barcelona marathon
– Don’t check a bag unless you really must
– They have bottled water at aid stations so no concerns there
– Arrive early to use the toilets
– It’s a big city marathon so expect it to be crowded for the duration of the run
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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