postponed until now, was for many the reencounter with the “great” races, those with thousands of participants filling the streets that were usual before.
Organizing the calendar before the summer, there was the option of reaching the 100th marathon in Madrid, as it finally happened. On one hand, it seemed like the logical place, alpha and omega of my marathon career.
I visited the runner’s expo on Saturday afternoon, in a gigantic IFEMA pavilion. Perhaps due to its large dimensions it had a certain soulless air, with few booths of other marathons (although there were those of Maspalomas Gran Canaria, Castellón, Oporto and Funchal). Still, there was enough to be entertained for a while.
After the usual early start it is a short walk to the starting area, where some had arranged to meet for a group photo, around 8.00. Without having a clue, the marathon family offers me a medal for my 100 marathons, which I still have to earn. Circumstances force them to offer it before the race. Due to the pandemic, the starts are staggered every 2 minutes, in groups of 500 participants, and predictably it will be difficult to meet after the race.
Already in my box, letter I, I listen to the successive starts from the previous groups, with the first one at 8:45 and mine at 9:01. Just before it, a minute of silence for the victims of Covid, and then we advance towards the starting arch. My 42k begin exactly on time.
Strangely, in the first kilometres, slightly uphill along the Paseo de la Castellana, what draws most my attention is the silence, despite the runners. As if the minute of silence had been extended, each one in our inner world, perhaps thinking of what the last year and a half meant in our lives.
Trying to enjoy the 100 marathon experience I don’t care much about my watch. Shortly after I meet Gonzalo, who had started in the previous box, and run with him for a few kilometres, until parting ways at the 10k refreshment station. It seems that I have started with more energy than on previous occasions. Anyway, this is my first road marathon since February 2020. Later on I also surpass David and Lola, although assuming they will probably catch me later.
At that point I suspect that something is wrong with my chip, as I do not hear the passing beeps on the control mats.
When crossing the half marathon my predicted final time is around 3h43m, but Madrid is Madrid, and all of us who have run there know what it means to arrive at the Casa de Campo. It is the hardest section of the race, also including the 32k wall. Until kilometre 28 I hold well the pace, but soon after I start slowing down.
With 4 kilometres to go, Gonzalo passes me again, and soon after Lola, but I cannot run at their pace. The “caceroladas” on the Avenida de Valladolid are missing, and the Chariots of Fire arriving in the Sol area, which is now avoided. The public, which until then had been mostly absent and not very enthusiastic, increases, and their cheers provide energy for the last effort. La Castellana is there, and so the finish line.
I finish the 100th marathon, winning one more medal, the second of the day, in 3.54.47.
The result is as important as the path travelled to reach this point.
In the credits of the first 100 marathons I must include to: Catherine E, for her initial impulse in search of the 100; Raúl L, for the “magical” shorts that gave me my PB in Valencia 2010; Enrique B, for introducing me to the world of the “crazy” marathoners when I returned to Spain; Filomena G, for her logistical support and patience in reaching marathons that would have been unattainable; Pepe T, whose “hunt” for being the first runner from Valladolid to get 100 made me realise that 13 marathons in a year were for the lazy ones; David P, Lola G and Javi del Val, without whose presence and “clandestine” marathons the Covid “drought” would have become longer; the other “maratoniacs” for their welcome… And all those, runners or not, who over the years shared my passion for running.
See you at the next start…