For the third time in a row I am coming back for this marathon. Date has moved from mid-June in 2016 (and evening start), to mid/late May in 2017, and finally early May this year. I think it is a good change, as weather has been more benevolent getting away from summer, but I expect is not moving anymore, as it can get in the already marathon-packed April.
Since last year the race start and finish are on the same spot, in the Eduardo VII Park, just where the Portuguese flag overlooks the whole Lisbon town, and a privileged viewpoint.
Apart from the time it takes to get there and come back, marathon is wholly taking place in the Monsanto park, a big natural reserve just in the outskirts of the town center, that offers a trail marathon just without leaving town. Its “Eco” in the title comes from its course and the additional care is taken about littering at the water stations and thorough the course.
Registration priced at 30€ (because it was done well in advance), and an 8.30 start, having also a half marathon choice one hour later, or a 10k at 11. The number of registrants, as I am told when picking my kit, is about 150 for the full course. With hot conditions in the forecast (~26°C around midday) I take an easy evening to save the energy for tomorrow.
With an easily accessible start by public transport, and plenty of parking spaces I get early to the start area for a change. Being a low-key marathon, at least regarding to the number of the full marathon participants, everything in the area is still being set up. Previously to the start we get a warming session, that will come handy to avoid injuries later on. As for equipment I go for the T-shirt provided (as it is “compulsory” to wear it) and my backpack, where I carry one liter of isotonic drink and the usual gels. It came handy on previous occasions here, as weather got hot, and although the water stations are enough and no far between them, it was useful to carry everything, and get an extra drink on occasions. Also, uncommon in my case I also take my headphones and get ready my podcast playlist. And… we go!
We get the bike lane that goes to Monsanto, for about 2 miles, before entering the park area, that is composed of tarmac lanes closed to the traffic, with a few occasional road crossings always carefully marshalled, and off road well signaled paths. As for starter I decide to save energy, as once we enter the park the course exigency rises considerably, with continuous hills, slopes and so on. It doesn’t take long for the gaps among runners to extent, and when I am about halfway, you can only see some runner in the distance when running in a clear area. Although the temperature increases, trees offer a perfect cover and respite, and miles start falling on my side without taking much notice. I cross the 30k checkpoint feeling fresher than earlier on, and from that marker on I can keep a steady pace, that lets me overtake some really depleted runners (although I also got overtaken myself by a couple of other ones). On leaving Monsanto, and the last water station, we get again on the bike lane heading towards Eduardo VII Park and the finish line. The last mile still saves 3 uphill sections, but with the flag in sight a last pushing effort get me through the finish line in 4.18.12, improving my 4.22.23 in 2017 (with a dramatic fall after mid-point, that maybe conditioned a better time) and my 4.34.19 in 2016 (run in the evening), for a 43 place out of 101 finishers.
An ideal race to cross the 2/3 point on my way towards the 100 barrier, and one of my favorite races that I will try to keep in my calendar again next year.
Score: 5 (out of 5)
Pros: trail scenery; start/finish point
Cons: an always changing date