Pros: flat course; spotless organization; well provided aid stations; free buses to/from start/finish.
Cons: maybe more stands in the running expo.
With the dates of some marathons changing so much lately it is good to know that San Sebastian has been stable at the end of November for many years. Valencia moved from February to November, and nowadays to early December. Gran Canaria has decided to move its 2020 edition from its usual January slot to sometime in November, trying to get more runners, although I run in 2018 and there were a lot of foreign athletes. Its slot in a month lacking marathons has been luckily filled by the Almagro marathon (moving also from its June slot). And Pamplona has gone even further, and recently cancelled the marathon distance for 2020 altogether.
Marathon 85 was supposed to be Puerto Varas, in Chile, but it was cancelled as a result of the widespread social unrest in the country. Back in Spain San Sebastian was waiting for a fourth time (and third in a row).
As usual I arrive on Saturday and go straight to the running expo in the velodrome of Anoeta to collect my bib number, and this time around the t-shirt, that I forgot to pick up last year. Unlike other editions it is very quiet, with no many runners or stands around. Maybe runners collected the numbers earlier or in the alternative locations provided on previous days.
Free from duties, time to eat some pintxos in the central tabernas with my friend Gonzalo, who also is running again the marathon. Satisfied I walk to my accommodation. With strong wind and now also raining it doesn´t look very inviting for race day.
This time I stay in the local hostel, not exactly in the city centre, but offering basic and clean lodging on a budget. With so many visitors for the races, prices hike up considerably during the weekend. Additionally, the organization bus will stop at the front door at 7.50 on Sunday to get to the start area.
As weather doesn´t accompany much, I spend the evening resting. I get up at 6.00 and get my breakfast with plenty of time before the race, scheduled at 9.00, as it is the half marathon. It keeps raining during the short bus trip to Anoeta, where I leave my luggage just around the clock, trying to stay warm for as long as possible.
The course is the traditional from other years, with 2-laps for the marathon and only one for the half-marathon and following the seaside in many sections. After so much rain, it stops exactly as races start. Running conditions become ideal with cloudy sky and a temperature of 10-11°C.
The first kilometres I navigate among runners, but things get easier soon. I am close to the 3.30 group, although not fast enough to catch them, while keeping my distance from the 3.45 one. Aid stations are frequent and well supplied with isotonic drink, water and nuts, and further in the race also bananas and energy gels.
I cross the half marathon in 1.46.32. Things look good, as even with my usual delay in the second half I could improve my results in the last 2 editions (3.46.00 and 3.45.02). Fresher than last years, with less marathons in previous weeks, I can keep a good pace, surpassing runners as I get into the last kilometres. I finish the race in 3.38.42, for the 12th marathon of the year, getting also my season best.
No much rest as next week is time to run again. Portugal awaits with its Gerês Extreme Marathon, in the Peneda- Gerês National Park, so-called the world´s toughest road marathon. Follow us and find our report here soon.