First marathon in Catalonia. One of the last “big Spanish ones” still missing from my list. This time is running for a good cause, as my registration price was entirely towards a charity (61.5€ for Aldeas Infantiles), including a free 6 months subscription to Runners World, magazine I was already registered a few years ago, and that I stopped when time became a too precious gift.
Runners expo is huge, occupying a whole Pavilion at Barcelona Exhibition Centre, located in the Plaza de las Cortes Catalanas, that is also doing as outdoor activities exhibition. It is one of the most complete fairs I have ever seen. Luckily, I go for my number and runner bag at lunchtime, and the place is not overcrowded. The evening goes visiting Barcelona downtown, besides an unexpected storm. After dinner it is time to rest, for a 9.30 start tomorrow morning.
As in other occasions early wake up, but luckily the hotel is in Gran Via, only about 20 minutes walking from the race start, in the same spot of the running expo. Because of my PB I am going to be in the red box, with the 3.15 group, although those times are actually beyond my reach nowadays. With the excitement in the air, able to give me goose bumps after so many starts, I am able to cross the start line in less than a minute, not bad considering the approximately 15000 runners. With an ideal weather for running, sunny but with storms in the forecast around midday, I go for running vest and a cap, and obviously the always in place (for me) sunglasses.
Liquid and food stations are frequent, every 2.5k, always with water, isotonic drink and fruit, and the markers are even coming in miles. After the 5k I am left behind by the 3.15 group. It looks that my pace was quite good till this point. Previous marathons are not heavy on my legs yet, although I keep in mind my next week marathon, trying not to punish myself too much. Course is only one lap, with most of the tourist sights on it. I get to the half marathon in 1.47.44, only to be surpassed also by 3.30 group. Between the km 25 and 30 my pace suffers considerably, although I cross the wall without further complications, and start deducting kms with the hope of keeping the 3.45 group behind me. Crowds are impressive in the whole circuit, but overall in the last stages of the race. Finally, 3.44.26, for a perfectly organised marathon, to the level of the best I have run. A short walk to the nearby hotel is convenient to stretch my legs, and with no time left for tourism, only a quick shower and light lunch, before heading to the airport. Next stop Badajoz, in 7 days.
Score: 5 (out of 5)
Pros: one lap circuit through main Barcelona attractions; crowds supporting the race; the complete drink/food stations; excellent running expo
Cons: showers located far from the finish line (but shuttle provided); medal design could be improved; isolated individual attempts to turn a sports event into a political one