MARATHON 133: QUINTA PARK MARATHON (BURGOS, SPAIN) (13/07/2024)

A week after participating in the Track Marathon in Jaén, the opportunity arose for me to run the marathon organized solo by Javi “Siete” in Quinta Park in Burgos. So close, and with free registration, it was too tempting to pass up. Another marathon in the province of Burgos, several of them organized by Javi, ever since the “official” Burgos marathon disappeared.

One might think that Burgos is a marathon province, although even with such facilities, no local runners showed up among the 13 marathoners who gathered at the Quinta on Saturday evening. It was a hot day, and with the start at 8:00 PM, it was still 25°C.

With several runners coming from Tarragona, some regulars in these events were also present, like Txema, Mario, and Pepe Caballer. We were all ready to do 13 laps and a half on a course of just over 3 kilometres in Quinta Park.

We run the first lap “neutralized” to familiarize ourselves with the course, although it is well marked with blue arrows on the ground and doesn’t require many navigational skills. Early on, there are still quite a few people walking around, so we have to be careful not to bump into anyone, especially on the return route along the Paseo de los Atletas towards the start/finish line. Thanks to the numerous trees, we are spared the worst of the sun, which is already low and will soon disappear.

In the first 2-3 laps, I still keep up with the small group of 3-4 at the front, who eventually pulls ahead. Unlike in Jaén, where you were almost continuously accompanied, the opposite happens here. In the end, it’s a marathon you must run solo, with your head.

Javi, always attentive at the finish area, is keeping track of our laps and offering refreshments. We are well supplied: there is no shortage of water, isotonic drinks, or even fruit. Many more prestigious marathons would love to offer such attention to runners. You can tell it is the effort of a marathon runner, who knows what is needed to tackle a marathon and avoid unnecessary distractions.

Looking at the lap times, I see it will be difficult to finish under 4 hours. Physically, it doesn’t seem like I am running that slow, but it must be a wrong impression. It is still hot, and I continue to sweat profusely. Consequently, I try to maintain well hydrated from early on.

Starting the 9th lap, and with still 5 to go, I have a déjà vu of Jaen and having done an extra lap, but soon realize that, indeed, I still have 5 laps left. By then, I have been lapped once by the 4 leading runners, although I still don’t see anyone ahead, I could try to lap. As night falls, the park becomes emptier, making it more comfortable without having to dodge people.

Just before midnight, I am lapped for a second time. Two laps left, and my goal of 4 hours is clearly out of reach. Midnight catches me on the Paseo de los Atletas, when the park lights go out and I am left in complete darkness. Fortunately, I latch onto one of the runners lapping me, who has a headlamp, allowing me to get through the worst stretch without incident. Back at the finish again, I grab my headlamp for the last lap.

Trying to pick up the pace a bit, more for personal honour than anything else, I cross the finish line in 4:38:30, in sixth place out of 9 finishers. The humidity, combined with the heat, caused 4 runners to drop out.

July 13th, 13 runners, 13 laps and marathon number 133 (with the bib-number 3).

Thanks for reading this far, and especially to Javi “Siete” for offering us this marathon.

MARATHON 132: JAEN TRACK MARATHON (SPAIN) (07/07/2024)

La Salobreja Athletics Track with stands on the left

Among the marathons that have established on the Spanish calendar recently is the Jaén Track Marathon, which in 2024 has celebrated its sixth edition. Often I considered participating, but if it wasn’t the logistics, given the travel distance, was the mid-July date, that held me back.

This year I had two options: the Maratona Atlântica de Comporta, which I ran a few years ago, or Jaén. Returning from Lisbon on Monday night, it seemed too much effort to repeat the trip twice in one week to run the Atlântica. Additionally, the experience was exhausting last time, with its 43km entirely on the beach. To attempt the race in better conditions, it would have required an expenditure on new gear (shoes suitable for running in the desert and gaiters to prevent sand from entering), which would be difficult to use afterwards. So, with some reluctance to run more than 100 laps on a track, after my unique experience at the Lemmings Marathon in 2014, I opt for Jaén.

Having decided to travel to Jaén, I travel early to have time for some sightseeing. Connecting two trains, I check at the accommodation shortly after 2:00 PM, where I found the legendary Antonio Huerta. After grabbing a bite to eat, I decidedto take advantage of the pleasant temperature, just 28°C (the previous day had reached 42°C) to stroll through the historic center, see the Cathedral, and visit the Interpretation Center of the Arab Baths, where I met the other competitor from Valladolid, Jaime “Nina,” with his partner making the same visit and intending to defend his victory from last year (which he did).

After the visit, I go to the hotel where the bibs are being distributed to find more familiar faces. This is a small marathon, with just over 40 participants, and many of the runners are regulars from other races. The marathon world is broad, but marathoniacs are only a small percentage of that crowd. There are Kevin, who would complete his 100th marathon tomorrow, and Antonios Rojas and López (it would be interesting to see how many marathoners are named Antonio, because there are many).

In search of an early pizza for dinner, I retire to the hotel early. The marathon starts at 7:00 AM, and the sooner you get to bed, the better.

Building with WCs and showers

The race is held at the Salobreja sports complex, just a 10-minute walk from the center of Jaén. It is still dark when I head to the athletics tracks, changed, and with all my gear. The temperature is around 20°C, ideal for starting to run. There I meet other regulars I didn´t see the day before: Santi Hitos, Carlos, Lola, David, Mario, Gocho, and Pepe Caballer, among others.

I leave my stuff in the stands, including the gels. That’s one of the advantages of running on a track. And also not having to count the laps, for which there are several volunteers, and we have a chip on the bib, both measures which, as will be seen later, seem not enough to avoid errors.

A little late, as I had been warned, we start. It’s half a lap, and then 105 more to complete the distance. The point is to try to stay in lane 1 as much as possible to avoid adding too much extra distance, because in lane 2 each lap is 408 meters instead of 400 meters.

And what can you say about a race with so many laps? In my case, I run without paying much attention to the watch, and with my references a bit lost compared to other runners. Jaime is clearly in the lead, gaining about one lap for each two of mine. Behind him, and also lapping me, though at a slower pace, is a small group of several runners. Then there’s a group that’s more or less at the same pace as me, and finally, there’s a third group, with some runners I lap occasionally.

Lap after lap, I enter a “robot” mode, as the sun rises on the horizon and covers the entire track, gradually increasing the temperature. Occasionally, they call out the laps, though it takes me a few laps to realize that the number they’re saying is the number of laps I have left. In a rough calculation, I see that I’m easily over 4 hours of final time. Additionally, I have the impression that they’ve called out a lap twice, which dampens my morale a bit, thinking I’ll end up running more distance than I should.

I enter no-man’s land between kilometers 20 and 30-something, where I still see that I have many laps left to finish this. With 20 laps to go, which is the distance of a short training run, I manage to pick up the pace a bit and regain some positions.

Jaen Track Marathon bib-number
Jaen Track Marathon medal

Finally, I finish in 4:17:35, and although in the first version of the results I didn’t appear, because the runner who finished just ahead of me started to loudly complain about having done an extra lap according to her, I eventually appear in a corrected version, in position 23 out of 39 finishers.

In my case, the GPS give me a distance of 42.25 kilometers, almost exactly the marathon distance, although with a 900-meter elevation gain. Challenge completed, despite the heat in the final hours, although nothing compared to higher temperatures in previous years, as I am told.

Overall, there are quite a few things to improve, from the chip system to help count the laps and avoid errors in the results, to the total absence of isotonic drinks during the race, or the obligation of picking up the bibs on the day before the race, which didn’t prevent a late start. On the positive side, it has a charitable cause, this year with the Aliatar Foundation, dedicated to the human and social promotion of people, especially young people.

Next stop: Marathon de la Quinta.

Rating: 3 / 5

MARATHON 131: CANDELEDA (AVILA, SPAIN) (26/05/2024)

Miguel Ángel, the organizer of the Almagro Marathon, and his partner, Ana Isabel, had been contemplating organizing a marathon in her hometown, Candeleda, in the Sierra de Gredos. When it became clear that, even without municipal permits, the event was going ahead as a family race, I decided to support them and attend the event.

Even though it is in the province of Ávila, getting to Candeleda is not easy. Almost 3 hours by car from Valladolid and more than 2 from Madrid, its remote location does not make it a simple destination. However, perhaps because of this, it has still maintained its tranquil atmosphere and nature tourism, free from the hustle and bustle of big cities.

Thus, we made Candeleda our weekend destination to run the first edition (or perhaps the zero edition) of the Candeleda Marathon. We had ahead of us a course of 25 laps (and one extra smaller lap to adjust the distance) around the park that borders the Garganta de Santa María river, offering us its wooded areas and natural pools for enjoyment.

With a start at 8:30 and staying 100 meters from the starting area, we couldn’t ask for more convenience. There, 13 runners gathered, waiting for the mayor, who came to give the start signal and say a few words, promising his full support for a future edition, with more amenities and possibly a broader route to enjoy the surroundings.

With experience in marathons following small routes, it is known that the times are the least of concerns. Especially on a circuit where each lap has about 25 meters of elevation gain. Although it might seem monotonous and boring, this is not the case, due to the variety of different sections. Additionally, there is the advantage of frequently crossing paths with other runners, matching their pace for a few minutes, and sharing experiences.

With my family waiting there, in the final laps, I managed to recover some positions. In this way, I cross the finish line in 4:20:58, securing fifth place out of 13 finishers.

I only have to thank Miguel Ángel, his partner, and the team of volunteers for the effort and tenacity put into making this marathon a success, as well as my family for making the trip to Candeleda and waiting for me for more than 4 hours.

With this, we reach 131 marathons and the 7th of the year. Ahead, the month of June appears free of 42k competitions, although the summer looks promising.

 

Thank you for reading. We move forward…

MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XXXVII) – Rio 2016: ELIUD KIPCHOGE (1984-)

Start of RIo 2016 Olympic marathon (Photo by Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0)

The men’s marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympics was held on August 21, the final day of the Games, following an urban course that started and finished at the Sambadrome. The event attracted the world’s top marathoners, with 155 participants from 79 nations, including seven of the top-10 finishers from London 2012.

Among the favorites was Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who had already won four Majors previously,  after abandoning the track. Other notable competitors included Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, the reigning Olympic (and 2013 World) champion, and Meb Keflezighi of the USA, silver medalist in  Athens 2004 and fourth-place finisher in London 2012, among others who had also proven theiir skill in previous competitions.

Eliud Kipchoge was born on November 5, 1984, in Kapsisiywa, Kenya, and used to run 3 kilometers daily to school from a very young age. He began his athletic career as a middle-distance runner, winning the Junior World Cross Country Championships in 2003. That same year, he won gold in the 5000 meters at the World Championships, defeating the legendary Hicham El Guerrouj. At the 2004 Olympics, he won bronze in the same distance, finishing behind El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele, who also denied him the Olympic gold four years later at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the same event. In 2012, surprisingly, he did not qualify for the London 2012 Olympics in any event. This result pushed him to debut in the half marathon, and later on in the marathon, in Hamburg 2013. His athletic journey reached another level with victories in Chicago (2014), Berlin (2015) and London (2015 and 2016). He arrived very experienced to Rio, seeking to confirm his status at the Olympic event.

Regarding the Rio 2016 marathon, the runners were going to face the hot and humid climatic conditions typical of Rio’s tropical climate, with light rain, 83% humidity, and 24°C (75°F) at the start of the race, at 9:30 AM.

At the beginning, a large group of runners set a solid but controlled pace, staying together during the early kilometers to save energy and adapt to the weather conditions. By the 15-kilometer mark, the group still included 62 runners, before Kipchoge moved to the front and increased the pace slightly. This led to a thinning of the leading group, with 46 runners crossing the half marathon (1h05m), and 37 at the 25-kilometer mark.

As the race progressed and the pace quickened, some favorites, such as Kiprotich and Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, the world champion, began to fall behind.

By the 30-kilometer mark, only eight runners remained at the front, led by Ethiopian Lemi Berhanu, who called for assistance from his compatriot Feyisa Lilesa to break away from the rest of the group. The group quickly reduced to just four runners: the two Ethiopians, Kipchoge, and the US runner Galen Rupp, in his international marathon debut. By the 33-kilometer mark, Berhanu also began to lose contact.

By the 35-kilometer mark, Kipchoge, increasing his stride, managed to establish a slight lead over Lilesa and Rupp. His pace remained steady as his rivals struggled to keep up. At the 40-kilometer mark, Lilesa was in second place, 36 seconds behind, maintaining a 12-second gap ahead of Rupp, who was clinging to third place.

With the gold medal nearly secured, Kipchoge allowed himself to run the final kilometers more relaxed, crossing the finish line with a smile in 2:08:44. Lilesa finished second in 2:09:54, and Rupp took third in 2:10:05.

The Rio 2016 marathon confirmed Kipchoge as the best marathoner of the moment, adding the Olympic gold to his extensive athletic achievements. However, his legend was just beginning, as he would demonstrate in the years to come, but that is another story.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_at_the_2016_Summer_Olympics_%E2%80%93_Men%27s_marathon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliud_Kipchoge

Kipchoge crossing the finish line and getting the gold medal in the marathon of Rio 2016

MARATHON 130: VINS DE BLAYE (FRANCE) (11/05/2024)

View from the Citadel

The Marathon des Vins de Blaye is an alternative to the more popular and harder-to-get-into Marathon du Médoc. It offers a similar concept, with a course that includes passing through different wineries in a festive atmosphere, with many participants in costume and the option to taste many wines. Located just a few kilometres from Bordeaux, Blaye, with a military citadel recognized as a World Heritage Site, and emerged as the ideal occasion to combine a family visit, sports, and tourism, taking advantage of a public holiday in our hometown.

Taking advantage of the car trip from Valladolid, we could stop as we pleased to visit the most interesting points along the way. On Friday, we visited the city of Bordeaux in the afternoon, arriving in Blaye after the bib collection closed at 8:00 PM. However, this was not a problem since it was available from 6:00 AM in the Citadel, which was the hub of all the race logistics, including the start and finish, bib collection, post-race meal, etc.

In addition to the marathon, which starts at 9:00 AM on Saturday, there is also a less demanding 10.5k race. With a time limit of 7 hours, the marathon passes through 14 villages, featuring multiple wine tastings and numerous refreshment stations. An irresistible offer that brought a small contingent from Valladolid to Blaye, with Chema (and family), Pepe, and Quique ready to face and add another notch to their marathon résumés.

Blaye Citadel (out wall)

Since our scommodation was less than 5 minutes from the Citadel, I headed over a little after 7:00 AM to pick up my race package, with last-minute preparations still underway to set up the start/finish area, and some of the earliest runners already around. After a short walk, I return to the apartment to finish preparations and walk back to the start. The temperature is ideal, although the forecast to reach 29°C can make the race a real challenge.

Positioned in the starting area, we gather around 600 participants for the 42k (the other race starts a bit later), in a festive setting with time for some pre-race photos.

After leaving the Citadel, we tour Blaye before exiting the village. From there, the course traverses other small towns and villages in the countryside, with a route that takes us through road sections and cross-country.

Race start/finish

Running in a pack with Chema and Quique, I crossed the 10-kilometer mark in 53:17, at a 3h45m pace, although it is still early in the race to make predictions. After a couple kilometres, I fall behind Chema and Quique, with 30 kilometres ahead.

I find a well-organized marathon with multiple refreshment stations, beautiful views, and well-placed kilometre markers. It reminds me of the many off-road marathons I did in UK. On the flip side, the course is tough, with continuous ups and downs—not very steep but enough to make me conserve energy for later.

I crossed the halfway point in 2:02:10, trying to make the most of the refreshment stations while avoiding the wine and numerous snacks. Already running at a slower pace, I reach the 30-kilometre mark in 3:01:10, as we continue crossing villages and wineries, with little but enthusiastic public, although my limited knowledge of French prevents me from understanding much.

Finally, we approach Blaye and its Citadel again, which we must circle to take the access route to the top of the fortress. I cross the finish line with a net time of 4:25:35, and 117th position out of 652 finishers.

This was my third marathon in France, for a highly recommended race, far from the crowds that might appear in other similar events.

Staying overnight in Blaye, the post-race dinner allows our Valladolid group to reunite and share experiences. The next day, on our way home, we still have time for a morning tour of Bordeaux and an afternoon visit to the impressive Dune of Pilat.

Thank you for reading this far, and see you at the next stop.

View of Bordeaux
Dune of Pilat

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE

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I take advantage of this short post to celebrate the sixth anniversary (3+3) of our website, which launched back on May 8, 2018.

We could divide its trajectory into two clearly differentiated halves. In its first 3 years I came to see it as an professional alternative. Looking at it in perspective, I realize now how delusional I was. Much more needed to be offered, it is true, and possibly a blog or website of this style is something that fell into disuse a long time ago, and more so as time has passed. Almost all of us lead a hectic life, always moving back and forth between different responsibilities. For the few moments of leisure available, we have an impossible amount of offer at our disposal. Digital platforms and social networks capture our attention with images and texts. It is difficult to compete with calm readings against short videos, TikTok style, or texts of 140 characters, which are the maximum length to which many people are able to pay attention.

The second part of this story, which spans from 2021, has placed the web as a burden at times, even economical to maintain the domain and its hosting. The lack of time, exasperating at times, has prevented me from creating content as frequently as I initially planned to. Too long silences, many times only interrupted by my marathon chronicles, always late. Difficult to maintain the balance between family and work obligations, continue running marathons and keep the page active, at least with a small thread of life inside it.

Even so we reach our sixth anniversary, with 271 published posts (in each language), including 74 career chronicles and 110 science divulgation ones. Enough content and hours spent, that, at least for now, we will try to continue one more season.

Moving forward…

1k+ (3+3)

MARATHON 129: MADRID (28/04/2024)

The Zurich Rock n’Roll Madrid Marathon is popularly known as Mapoma. Place of our marathon debut in 2000, and the 100th in 2021. We have attended so many times that I must check my diary to remember the editions in which I have participated.

Registered since the end of last year, its date was already fixed on my calendar for the last weekend of April. As on other occasions, with options of a half marathon and 10k in a tough course, one of the most demanding nationwide. With a number of participants for the longest distance a little over 10 thousand, it has remained with slight ups and downs for a few years.

The bib collection at the Madrid Fair is fast and fluid, with one of the most extensive runners fairs I have seen. Fitted into wave 6 of departures, I am scheduled to start at 9:25. This system of staggered starts every 5 minutes is a good idea that other marathons should adopt. It avoids the initial crowding, and possibly allows the number of runners to be higher. The same could be said for the efficient system of wardrobe trucks.

I start once again close to the 3h45m group… whom I keep slightly ahead. Already in the first stages of the race I am going a little over the pace. It is not something worrying because the first 3-4 kilometres following the Paseo de la Castellana until Plaza de Castilla are ascending. Despite this I am running parallel to the 1h50m group, which for many kilometres will be behind the 3h45m group, which should cross the race equator in 1h52m30s.

Inaccuracies of one or other aside, I feel the shoes heavy today. I am using a new version of my usual Adidas Solar Glide model, which has never given me problems, but today I already feel a blister on the instep of my right foot at 8k. It seems that I run inefficiently, and that considering that my personal running style is everything but elegant.

Thus, regulating my pace, I cross the half marathon in 1.54.56. Certainly, a little bit behind schedule, but still with room to finish under 4 hours. The day is not as warm as in Zaragoza, we soon arrive at the dreaded Casa de Campo area, with some of the hardest slopes of the race, a real test for the tired athletes.

Shortly before reaching the last section, I collide badly with the wall. Crossing kilometre 35 in 3h17m, I run with sore hips, and the right calf giving warnings of cramp. The following kilometres seem endless to me, eagerly searching for the distance markers while watching how the clock continues its inexorable path.

Finally, I cross the finish line with 4.07.54, exhausted. Today was not the most favourable day, but I suppose that with this distance, things cannot be taken for granted.

As I walk in search of the medal, the idea crosses my mind that, perhaps, I should rethink my relationship with the 42k.

For now, another marathon awaits me in a couple of weeks, in Blaye, France, which I will try to confront in the best possible conditions.

Come on!

MARATHON 128: ZARAGOZA (14/04/2024)

The Zaragoza marathon was one of those that I had already crossed off my list in 2022, thinking that I would mainly focus on completing those that I was missing. Once again, I was wrong, signing up as “revenge” after the shameful cancellation of Badajoz, just two days before its celebration.

The visit to the Aragonese capital was going to be totally lightning. The alarm clock rang at 2:20 in the morning on that same Sunday. I had arranged to meet at 3:30 with Gorriti to pick me up and from then the “Abollao”. We had time to get to Zaragoza in about 4 hours, thanks to Quique who had collected our bib-numbers the day before.

Thus, we arrive in Zaragoza with enough time to park the car, and taking advantage of the good weather, walk to the starting area changed and ready for running. We meet Quique with our numbers, and all together head towards the Plaza del Pilar. Along with the distance of 42 kilometres, a 10k is also offered, with a slightly later departure.

Time to see many familiar faces and take some last photos before our departure at 8:30. Again with a large representation from Valladolid in the starting group.

Once we cross the starting line, we get to a very sharp curve that forces us to walk. I suppose this small inconvenience could be avoided if the exit took place on the back street facing the river, or by leaving the square at its other end.

The forecast of reaching 24-25⁰C in the final stages of the race calls for calm. I keep the 3h45m pacer in sight. After the first few kilometres behind me I hear a joke in the familiar voice of Quique, who comes to my level accompanied by a small group that also includes Johanna, Bassit and Óscar.

I stick with them for a few kilometres, knowing that they have a slightly faster pace than mine, around 5m20s per kilometre. Normal speed that I always try to maintain, aiming for the usual goal of 3h45m. Despite the marathon’s reputation for being flat, there are also some undulating areas.

Already letting them go, I crossed the half marathon at around an hour and 53 minutes, slightly above the established goal. Estimating a slower second part of the race, I try to take advantage of all the aid stations and take the gels that they provide us.

Fortunately, the route takes advantage of both the street and tree-lined areas to offer us long stretches of shade, which are appreciated and make the heat that we thought was going to punish us more bearable. The influx of public during the last kilometres gives the final push to gain pace towards the Plaza del Pilar.

I cross the finish line with a net time of 3.56.43 (official 3.57.32) and position 754 of 1111 finishers. In this incomparable setting, with perfect weather, and after having enjoyed excellent organization, I reach 128 marathons.

Just enough time to get back to the car, change clothes and, after a small snack, face the 4-hour return trip.

Next stop, Mapoma.

Book: LA CARRERA DEL SIGLO (Jose Luis Munuera & Kid Toussaint, 2024, 96 pages)

I accidentally found a reference to this comic online, and I thought that, for an athletics fan, and more specifically the marathon distance, it was something that couldn’t be missed.

Presented by the Astiberri publishing house in a careful hardcover edition, it focuses on telling us about the 1904 St Louis Olympics marathon, an episode that we already presented on our blog (https://www.onekmore.com/en/2018/06/28/marathon-olympic-champions-iii-st-louis-1904-thomas-hicks-1876-1952/ ), as part of our series on the Olympic marathon champions.

It must be considered that sport at that time did not have the same media following as it does today, especially in those first editions of the Olympic Games, which had only restarted in Athens a few years before, in 1896. All this context is presented to us in detail in the first pages, where we can see how it was decided to organize the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, to the detriment of Chicago, and make it coincide with the Universal Exhibition.

This celebration was seen by the organizing committee as an occasion to show the world the physical superiority of the United States, which had felt humiliated by the French in the previous Olympic event, in Paris 1900. And not only American superiority, but as we will see later, show the superiority of the white race over athletes from other ethnicities.

Focusing on the marathon, we are introduced to a small profile of those who will ultimately be the main protagonists of the event. We have the Cuban postman Félix “Andarín” Carvajal, the South Africans in continuous dispute Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiani, who went to St Louis to be “exhibited” as aborigines in an anthropological exhibition, the firting Frederick Lorz, or the one who ultimately would take his chance, Thomas Hicks. I only missed the Frenchman, although competing for the USA, Albert Corey.

In the following pages the comic shows us how the race goes. Without going into details that would ruin the reading, we witness how the marathon was conceived almost as an experiment, starting at the hottest time of the day, on the afternoon of August 30 with a temperature of 32°C, running through streets with traffic, and a unique liquid station to be able to study the effects of dehydration on the organism. All for the sake of spectacle. It seemed more a test of survival than an athletic demonstration, as evidenced by the fact that of 32 runners at the start, only 14 managed to cross the finish line.

We also witness the use, which today would be scandalous, of various stratagems and tricks of some of the runners with the aim of achieving victory.

For those who do not know the result of the race, we will not reveal everything here.

An essential comic for lovers of sports history, Olympics, or simply the marathon, which cannot be missing from their library.

Score: 5/5

MARATHON 127: VALDEBEBAS (23/03/2024)

Valdebebas is one of those marathons that I end up returning to from time to time. It is true that 40 laps of an avenue with hard pavement and not the best views end up becoming repetitive, but it offers a feeling of camaraderie when running with many of the most “addicted” marathoners in the field.

This year the marathon coincides with the third day of a Quadrathlon, so for most runners this is just one step to completing their quartet of marathons for the week.

With a punctual start at 9:00 and pleasant weather, we began to run laps, quickly standing out those of us who come only for the marathon, and those for whom today is another day in their challenge.

To finish in 4 hours, I should run each of the laps in 6 minutes. However, from the beginning I am already going a few seconds above that time. From experience I know that it is a tough race, both in terms of the route and psychologically. In my two previous visits I have never managed to go under 4 hours. In addition, I have last Sunday’s marathon on my legs, having only done a training session during the week.

With the refreshment table at the end of each lap, I don’t have to carry gels or unnecessary load. This allows everyone to run at their own pace without having to worry about where or when the next drink station will be found.

Therefore, I start adding laps and kilometres, lapping some runners while I am also lapped by the fastest runners, like Teo and Lolo. In this race, more than in others, it is racing against yourself.

In the end I manage to cross lap 40 in a time of 4.23.52… and it is not my worst time on the course, where in 2019 I managed to finish in 4h41m. A fourth place out of 25 participants, but obviously with less fatigue in the legs than many of them.

It’s time to relax with the numerous food available, while waiting for the other participants to finish. With more than 3,100 marathons among all participants, the anecdotes and shared experiences are countless. There is always something to learn from such a group.

With the calendar more or less outlined for the following months, it is time to rest during Easter and return strongly afterwards.

See you soon.