Six days apart from my Mega Challenge Marathon, and just back in Spain, is time for the Valdebebas Marathon, organised by David Paños, with invaluable help from some family members and volunteers, that is going for its second edition. It is a small field marathon (20 runners at most), where registration (20€) is by invitation. I was luckily recommended by Enrique Benito (from Calle Running).
The week was full of work, with no training after Sunday´s race, and an “out of home” diet, composed mainly of nuts and fruits. The air conditioning at my workplace has also made its impact, with some cold symptoms looming close. Arriving to Madrid at midnight and managing to sleep after 3am is not the recommended procedure for a successful race. Luckily the start is at 11am, and the start area is 300 metres walking from Valdebebas train station.
The marathon race will consist of 40 laps of a pedestrian avenue, just in front of the Real Madrid training grounds. People start gathering as the start time approaches, with some well-known faces in the amateur Spanish marathon running scene. The race is supposed to be run in a neutralised group, aiming for a 4h30minutes finish time.
After a pre-race group picture with the 19 participants, and with sunny and pleasant conditions, we start the marathon. The pace is slow, as expected for the planned finish time, although I am not very good at these paces from early on.
The big group gets to the first stop for supplies, and soon afterwards it splits in two. I found myself in the heading group of 7 runners, with another group of 6-7 shortly behind. The remaining runners are by themselves, or in smaller groups. As the course is out and back following the same avenue, is easy to follow everyone´s positions, although I soon get lost with the lap counting.
It doesn’t take long before I lose contact with the heading group. From that point onwards, I will not feel at ease again during the race. I cross the half marathon point a bit over 2h time. It means that even I am running ahead of schedule. Already tired, I get the feeling that finishing this marathon is going to be a will effort.
Front runners start lapping me. With a short course is obvious that it would happen, although the camaraderie is always present, with supporting cheers as we cross each other twice every lap. Asking other runners their laps count, help me to keep track of how many I have left. Boredom and the hard surface are not doing it easier, and I start pausing to walk every 3-4 laps, after drinking/eating at the well-stocked station.
With 5 laps to go, first runners are already finishing slightly over the 4h time. At the pace I am running there is still a chance to finish under the 4.30. With less runners in the course, I don´t have any extra energy left to maintain the pace, and I finish in 4.42.59, after running an extra 200 metres, as I thought the race finished in another point of the course.
Satisfied with the experience, although not with myself after last week success. Anyhow I have never been very good with races going for many laps.
Score: 4.5 / 5
Pros: a marathon organised by runners for runners, where everyone feels welcomed and you go home with new friends; the supporting staff at the refreshment area, always helpful and supportive.
Cons: hard surface and boring course, but impossible to do otherwise, as it was run uniquely using a pedestrian avenue; group discipline trying to achieve the planned 4.30 broke up too early on.