The UTRSC Santa Cruz was chosen as marathon 99, six days after the Atlantic Troia-Melides.
Due to the Covid restrictions, the start time was changed at the last moment from 20.00 to 16.30, which in the end turned out to be an advantage, as I would see later. With a deadline of 6h30m and a circular route from Santa Cruz, short trails of 22 and 12k are offered too.
On a day with ideal weather, with just over 20°C, and after the regulatory control of the obligatory equipment (liquid tank, front light with replacement batteries and mobile) we start the marathon, to follow a route marked with orange tapes on the right side (except changes of direction).
Although it might seem easy to follow the route, it wasn´t that way in practice. I will end up going off course at least half a dozen times. At the slightest mistake with a tape, I ended up doing a few extra meters. In this “orientation” marathon the environment often varies. Nothing to do with the relative monotony of the 43k on the beach last week.
Its 700 m of D+ are noted, although they are acceptable. Without stops at the first 3 aid stations, I only stop to refill the Camelback at kilometre 28, in the ruins of an abandoned monastery. Afterwards come 3 kms of steep ascent, in one of the toughest areas of the route.
However, from kilometre 31 course improves, being mostly downhill and following roads as we approach the coast and the last refreshment station, 6 kilometres from the finish line, in Porto Novo.
From there, and with a beautiful sunset, it is only to follow the coast towards Santa Cruz. One last section on the beach´s wooden walkway takes me to the finish line. Thanks to the early departure time I have not needed to use the front light. Had I had to run at night, surely, I would have ended up getting lost.
Marathon 99 finished in 4.49.37, and position 85 out of 106 at the finish line (23 DNF/4 DSQ).
Not finding myself as I would like to feel, it seems that the last marathons up to 100, as it happened to my friend Pepe, somehow choke. Hopefully, as Quique says, it is only a bump and I “rejuvenate” after reaching them.
The next marathon will be the 100. Although not entirely sure, as things are going, it is foreseeable that it will be in Madrid, on September 26, the date where MAPOMA 2020 was moved after its suspension by Covid-19. We would close the circle where we debuted in the 42k on a distant April 30, 2000.
See you there?