The Mem Martins Night Marathon coincided with the beginning of the Easter holidays, framed within a weekend of competitions organized by the Camara Municipal of Sintra (Portugal) and the Mem Martins sports group under the name of “24 hours to run Mem Martins”.
Along with the night marathon, starting at midnight between Saturday and Sunday, races of 24, 12, 6 and 3 hours are also organized, all of them on the same course of just over 1 mile, or 1650 meters in length. Over varied terrain, there are long tarmac sections, with a part off-road and another on wood.
Without being our first night marathon (we already have Valtiendas, Bilbao and Pamplona), it was going to be the first one starting at midnight, which slightly altered the logistics of the competition day. After having dinner several hours before, I took a train to Algueirao, in the vicinity of Sintra, and after a short walk, in which I drank a caffeinated energy drink, I arrived at the race park, where the 24-hour athletes were already running from midday.
With just enough time to get changed, I head to the starting area, where only a few runners are going for the 25.5 laps necessary to complete the marathon distance. With 12⁰C the temperature is good to undertake one more adventure, which starts on time.
The first laps serve to get used to the course. Although there is no need to carry a headlamp, the off-road section requires a bit of caution due to its uneven floor. From that point is a zigzagging section towards the finish area, where the stopwatch, massage area and refreshments are located. Leaving it, we get to the planks area, where I am also careful. After that comes the easiest section, out and back on flat regular tarmac.
Without having brought the Camelbak, nor by extension any container to carry water, when crossing the finish line, I ask for a plastic cup, as they are absent next to the water containers. With it in hand, I’m more relaxed for when I must stop to drink.
Although the temperature remains constant, a low fog appears on occasion. Starting from lap 6, I decide to take a gel or drink water, alternatively, on every even lap. Self-provisioning is not easy, due to the difficulty of opening (and closing again) the hard tap of the container. That will cost me a few unavoidable minutes during the race.
Without being able to mark references very well with the other runners, not knowing who is running what, after the halfway point I start discounting the laps that remain to finish. With 5-6 laps to go I motivate myself trying to capture the runners ahead. The energies seem to respond, and I manage to speed up the pace.
With 2 laps to go, I see that one of the runners, with whom I had been crossing on numerous occasions. is finishing, presumably from the marathon. When they tell me is my last lap, I see that I am going to spend a little over 4 hours. Finally, I cross the finish line on 4.04.28. There they tell me to wait for the trophy ceremony because I have finished in third position. There’s no rush either, because the first train to Lisbon doesn’t leave until an hour and a half later.
During the interval I change my clothes and drink some hot tea in the tent where bifanas, coffee and hot soup are offered during the night. Along with my finisher medal, I end up with another 2, for being third overall and third in the category.
Thus, it is how we finished a small marathon because of the number of participants, although part of a great event, carefully organized by runners for runners… We will try to return, perhaps for its 24 hours.
SCORE: 4.5 / 5