Pros: one lap course; same location for start, finish and running expo; support in locations; generous running bag.
Cons: pacers misplaced in the start area; confusing course variations between half and full marathon; small area for running expo in Congress Centre; not enough sea views, course could go to the Costa Nova area and avoid the first small loop around Aveiro.
Extra: successful proposal, especially for a first edition, is sure to become another date to consider in the running calendar. A pity its date coincidence with the highly popular Rock’n Roll Madrid marathon.
First marathon organised in the town of Aveiro and the only one in continental Portugal besides the more popular of Lisbon and Porto. Aveiro is located in central Portugal, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, and popular because of its channels and salt flats, being dubbed as the “Portuguese Venice”.
Race headquarter is in Aveiro Congress Centre, while the start and finish area are located in the channel area just in front of it. I arrive to pick my running kit on Saturday afternoon. It has a t-shirt, a bottle of wine, a deodorant and a cereal bar. I also get some force readings measured on my feet, as they were looking for volunteers to have them recorded before and after marathon completion.
In the evening we take the ferry to the Natural Reserve of the Dunas of San Jacinto. Maybe because the time of the day, walking into the empty beach with strong wind gusts, one get mentally transported to the desert. After enjoying the short detour, time to get back to Aveiro following the road, as the ferry services are not very frequent, for dinner and sleep.
With the marathon, there are also a half marathon and 10k races available, all scheduled for an 8.30 start. After breakfast, a short walk get me to the start with time to do some stretching. Temperature is ideal and humidity high because of the fog. There are starting boxes and race pacers, although they are all located just in the front line.
Training sessions during the week were light, trying to get a full recovery from 2 weeks ago, although I felt quite tired during each one of them. When we go, it takes me 1 kilometre to get to 4.30 group, another one for the 4.15, and a few more to get pass the 4.00 group. The first miles we surround Aveiro, before getting back and head towards the seaside. The marathon course is 1 lap long, so once we abandon Aveiro we are not coming back until aiming for the finish line.
We follow main roads, and cross some neighbourhoods, in our way to the Atlantic shore near Barra beach. Although the sections following the roads are a bit boring, they are compensated by the enthusiastic supporters when we arrive to populated areas. Course is not as flat as it could appear, as we cross some bridges in the highways. Additionally we don´t get much occasion to enjoy sea views, because of the course and the persistent fog, which stays in place until near midday.
As for myself, I never find my ideal pace and the 3.45 group is not going to be on reach. Crossing the half marathon shy of the 2 hour barriers, and predictably slowing down in the second half, I decide to take things easy. With the temperature rising I try to drink enough in every station. By mile 20 I also have some discomfort in my left foot. Today I had changed my racing shoes for my training shoes, heavier and not as comfy for a marathon run.
I finish in 4.03.27, in 675 position out of 1122 finishers in the marathon distance, receiving a nice medal and a finisher t-shirt. Time to recover for next week event in Lisbon, which will make for number 80.