On a peninsular level, Málaga was one of the last marathons missing from my list. The long travel distance and the timing had always deterred me in previous seasons.
This year, I had planned the trip since February, with the train ticket purchased. However, in the end, because I literally left the registration for the last day, I almost missed it again. After trying to reschedule the return time on Sunday and confirming the availability of tickets, I cancelled my purchased trip only to find that the available seats on the earlier train were for disabled passengers. And the seat from the cancelled ticket was no longer available. Fortunately, by paying extra, I managed to resolve my own mess and confirm my trip to Málaga.
Thus, after a trouble-free journey, I arrive in Málaga on Saturday afternoon to find a mild autumn weather that we had forgotten in the Castilian interior for weeks.
After settling in at the hotel, I take the free tourist bus provided by the organizers for the runners to go to the race expo at the port area. This saves me a long walk, with the aim of keeping my legs fresh as for next day. Getting the bib and runner’s bag is fast, and I still have time to explore the town and its Christmas lights.
The marathon, starting at 9:00, also offers the option of a half marathon. With a record number of participants, including many from other countries, the weather is pleasant at the beginning, around 12°C, although expected to reach 20°C in the final stages of the race. Quite different from the conditions two weeks ago in San Sebastián.
As the race starts, I see the 3h45m pace group a few meters ahead. Things are going to unfold differently than they did in San Sebastián, and I can’t catch up with the group. Nevertheless, I continue at my own pace, although losing a few seconds with each kilometre, gradually falling further behind the 3h45m group.
With the race progressing, the course becomes less crowded. With a two-lap circuit, at the halfway point, which I cross in 1h53m, only the runners of the full marathon remain. I maintain hydration at the available stations, sometimes wishing for more availability of isotonic drinks. On the positive side, the aid stations are very long, and missing the first tables don’t matter much. This is something that other race organizers should consider.
Crossing the 3-hour mark, I am at kilometre 33, so entering below 3h45m doesn’t seem easy anymore. Indeed, that is the case, as I cross the finish line in 3:51:48, securing the 1902nd position out of 3552 finishers.
A well organised marathon with growth potential.
Adding one more notch on my belt, I conclude the marathon calendar for 2023, which included 11 marathons, three of them new: Clarete, Río Boedo, and Málaga.
Next year will hopefully bring more marathon adventures. For the time being some short races ahead in the calendar, to end the year in the best possible way: running.