MARATHON 121: LOGROÑO (01/10/2023)

Logroño was going to be the location for the 121st marathon, after having hosted the 111th in 2022 and the 101st in 2021. Thus, it was my third time running its marathon. The short distance from Valladolid and the option to run it for free (thanks to the sponsorship of Sapje Renovables) were decisive factors in this decision.

Unlike other years when I had travelled the day before, I meet up with Gorriti at 5:30 am to go directly. Already with our race bibs before leaving, we could arrive with peace of mind.

Therefore, we arrive in Logroño at 8 am and park near El Espolón Park, where the start and finish are located. We still have time for a small breakfast before walking to the starting line, where the runners are already gathering, most of them for the half marathon distance, and many familiar faces. Unusually, four members of Atletas Populares seeking the full marathon distance.

With pacers for times of 3h30m and 4 hours, my usual choice of joining the 3h45m group disappears. With just over 200 runners for the 42 kilometers, it is likely to be a lonely race in its second half.

We start on time at 9:00 am with temperatures around 15°C, that could reach 28°C by noon. The heat calls for caution, but I am running a bit faster than supposed, around 5 minutes and 10 s per kilometer (instead of the 5 minutes and 20 s to achieve a 3h45m finish time).

Repeating almost the same route as in previous years, I know it is a race with no much spectator support, often taking us away from the more touristy areas of the city. Long straightaways and some tough inclines, especially the one along the side of the church next to the river, paved with cobblestones, and the final one heading towards El Espolón. The first lap serves to refresh my memory and confirm that the second part of the course is the more demanding one.

I complete the half marathon distance in 1.50.30. Things seem to be going well, with some buffer to achieve a good time. However, the heat and the course will not make easy to maintain that pace in the second lap.

With tired legs, I manage to keep up on track until kilometre 28. From there on, kilometres start to stretch on my watch. I begin to consider the backup goal of finishing in under 4 hours. By not missing any aid stations and choosing isotonic drinks whenever available, it is just a matter of convincing myself that each step forward is one step closer to the finish line.

In the end, I finish in a hard-fought net time of 3.53.46, in the position 152 out of 247 finishers. Overall, a result almost identical to the one achieved in 2022 (3.52.47 and 150th out of 243 finishers).

Although at the beginning of the year I had considered trying to run fewer marathons and being more selective, in the end, as with Logroño, I finish participating in those with simpler logistics and the opportunity to continue adding marathons to my tally.

If all goes well, the next stop should be be Bilbao, to repeat the night marathon we ran in 2017.

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