Madrid has always been one of the most classic marathons at the national level. It’s the place where I made my debut in 2000 and crossed the threshold of 100 marathons in 2021. This was going to be my seventh participation. This year, I chose it after reading that the route had been slightly modified to pass through the most emblematic places in Madrid, such as Puerta del Sol.
You can tell it’s a marathon with extensive experience, and its expo, held in one of the pavilions of IFEMA, doesn’t disappoint, offering a wide variety of stalls, both for sales and other races. I visit it late in the morning, with a large crowd, although it doesn’t take us much time to collect the bib and race bag and go sightseeing in the city.
Race day dawns with good weather forecast. Alongside the marathon, there’s also a 10K race, starting at 8.30. I walk from my accommodation near Atocha to the start area. The marathon starts in waves, every 5 minutes, with mine scheduled for 9:20. I arrive just in time after dropping off my baggage at the gear area, and feeling a bit confused, I can no longer enter the 9.20 box. I move to the next one, at 9.25, where I move near the front. The return train is shortly after 15 and I already feel that I don’t have much room for unexpected events if I want to make it on time.
The start on Paseo de la Castellana reminds me of the 2021 edition, which was one of the first large-scale races after Covid, where despite the numerous runners, there was an almost sepulchral silence during those first kilometers, straight and slightly uphill. It has always been an area with few spectators, a place to become aware of oneself and what lies ahead.
From there, and away from the pace groups, I try to follow the strategy from previous races, adjusting my splits to 16 minutes every 3 kilometers, aiming for a final time around 3 hours and 45 minutes. In the early kilometers, I try not to get carried away, even though my legs are asking for more, but I already know that it usually takes a toll on me in the second half of the race.
Fortunately, it seems that the Clarete Marathon from the previous week hasn’t had much impact on my legs, and I can maintain a steady pace without much trouble. Just as methodical as with the paces, I manage to be with gels. Maybe it’s excessive for some, but I find that 5 is a good number, both for logistical reasons (carrying more would be challenging in the waist belt) and in terms of kilometers, as I take one every 6 kilometers starting from kilometer 12 (then 18, 24, 30, and 36).
I reach the halfway point with a time of 1.53.01. Not far from the goal. The heat is starting to be noticeable, and I try to drink isotonic beverages at every aid station where they are available. As we have mentioned in some of our blog posts, in hot conditions, one must be careful with hydration, obviously, but also avoid dangerous hyponatremia in case of excessive water intake. Therefore, in hot weather, and when drinking in large quantities, it is more advisable to turn to isotonic drinks to maintain the concentration of electrolytes in the blood.
Anyone who has run Madrid knows that reaching Casa de Campo means entering the last quarter of the race, but also encountering the “wall” and some of the toughest inclines of this marathon. Fortunately, it also offers shaded areas, welcomed at this hour, as the heat is already punishing us relentlessly.
After overcoming this part, it’s time to head back towards the center of Madrid, where the crowd pushes us when our legs can’t. Memories come to mind of past editions, from the sounds of the “caceroladas” from the balconies to the music zones, like the one with “Chariots of Fire” on Avenida de Valladolid. Glimpses of what it was like to run in bygone eras…
Pushing in the final kilometers, I manage to cross the finish line in 3.51.51, which, although far from my PB on this course, is still 3 minutes better than my 2021 time. Satisfied with the result, I don’t have time to waste in collecting my bag, changing clothes hurriedly on a bench, and head towards Chamartín.
Thus, we consider our participation in Mapoma concluded, certain that we will be back for future occasions. Thank you for making it this far.