MARATHON 128: ZARAGOZA (14/04/2024)

The Zaragoza marathon was one of those that I had already crossed off my list in 2022, thinking that I would mainly focus on completing those that I was missing. Once again, I was wrong, signing up as “revenge” after the shameful cancellation of Badajoz, just two days before its celebration.

The visit to the Aragonese capital was going to be totally lightning. The alarm clock rang at 2:20 in the morning on that same Sunday. I had arranged to meet at 3:30 with Gorriti to pick me up and from then the “Abollao”. We had time to get to Zaragoza in about 4 hours, thanks to Quique who had collected our bib-numbers the day before.

Thus, we arrive in Zaragoza with enough time to park the car, and taking advantage of the good weather, walk to the starting area changed and ready for running. We meet Quique with our numbers, and all together head towards the Plaza del Pilar. Along with the distance of 42 kilometres, a 10k is also offered, with a slightly later departure.

Time to see many familiar faces and take some last photos before our departure at 8:30. Again with a large representation from Valladolid in the starting group.

Once we cross the starting line, we get to a very sharp curve that forces us to walk. I suppose this small inconvenience could be avoided if the exit took place on the back street facing the river, or by leaving the square at its other end.

The forecast of reaching 24-25⁰C in the final stages of the race calls for calm. I keep the 3h45m pacer in sight. After the first few kilometres behind me I hear a joke in the familiar voice of Quique, who comes to my level accompanied by a small group that also includes Johanna, Bassit and Óscar.

I stick with them for a few kilometres, knowing that they have a slightly faster pace than mine, around 5m20s per kilometre. Normal speed that I always try to maintain, aiming for the usual goal of 3h45m. Despite the marathon’s reputation for being flat, there are also some undulating areas.

Already letting them go, I crossed the half marathon at around an hour and 53 minutes, slightly above the established goal. Estimating a slower second part of the race, I try to take advantage of all the aid stations and take the gels that they provide us.

Fortunately, the route takes advantage of both the street and tree-lined areas to offer us long stretches of shade, which are appreciated and make the heat that we thought was going to punish us more bearable. The influx of public during the last kilometres gives the final push to gain pace towards the Plaza del Pilar.

I cross the finish line with a net time of 3.56.43 (official 3.57.32) and position 754 of 1111 finishers. In this incomparable setting, with perfect weather, and after having enjoyed excellent organization, I reach 128 marathons.

Just enough time to get back to the car, change clothes and, after a small snack, face the 4-hour return trip.

Next stop, Mapoma.

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