Pros: friendly and familiar atmosphere; quiet course; free registration and generous running bag.
Cons: maybe outdated webpage is affecting number of runners.
A staple in the calendar since I came for the first time two years ago. It is hard to find a free race these days, even more if it is a marathon. Strangely enough runners are always scarce, compared with other races, even when this one is going for its 22nd edition. Aguilar de Campoo may not be a big town, but has good transport connections that makes it easily accessible. Also it offers some interesting places to visit, and various hiking opportunities around.
With a 9 am start, it is only a short walk from my accommodation. Morning has appeared warm, and forecast announces 28°C by noon. Training during the week went easy, after last weekend race: the Douro Vinhateiro half marathon, nice race in an unbeatable setting.
We are about 30 runners, most of them well known faces. After a short brief by Gabriel, we head off for a short first loop, which will be followed by 5 longer laps going from Aguilar to the village of Villallano.
Heading out of Aguilar following a quiet road we travel through the industrial estate with the biscuit factories. Being a Sunday it is empty, although the sweet smell is in the air. Shortly afterwards we find the only two slopes of the course, one crossing over the highway, and the other doing so over the railway. With an out and back course, these slopes will become demanding later on, as we will surpass them 10 times.
A heading group distances itself quickly, with a terrific pace. I try to allocate myself with a suitable group, but with so few runners is not easy. Luckily because of the linear course you are always crossing runners in the opposite direction. Some encouraging words do wonders sometimes. I keep myself well hydrated in both drink stations, alternating between water and isotonic drink. Not feeling the legs as fresh as I wish, I try to maintain a cruising pace.
With temperature on the rise I move a few places up and down, while spaces between runners increase and groups are less. Before entering my last lap, I get overlapped by the first 3 runners, although it doesn´t matter much: it is only one more to go.
I cross the finish line shy of the 4 hours barrier in 3.57.25, and 15 out of 28 finishers. Never mind, as everyone gets a trophy and well deserved biscuits. Time to say some goodbyes, although many will be gathering in the Almagro marathon, in 3 weeks. As for myself, Pamplona is still waiting first, next Saturday.