Time to get back to Badajoz, to run its marathon for a third time. As before, a good occasion to add a marathon to my tally, taking advantage of the cheap registration (15€) and interesting visiting spots in the vicinities.
Arriving just before lunch, I pick my running kit, that includes a running shirt + shorts. The pasta lunch is included, although we go instead to Mérida, a town located 40 miles from Badajoz, and declared World Heritage by Unesco in 1993.
As time is at the essence, we get a 30 minutes tour in a small train to see the main sights, before visiting the unmissable Roman Theatre and Amphitheatre. After a short walk in town, and with sunset approaching we head back to Badajoz, to check in at the hotel and have a pizza before going to bed.
Race starts at 9, with the half marathon starting at 9.15. With about 500 runners for each race, and pleasant weather is time to go. Last year I tagged along the 3.45 group, with an inconsistent pacer. This time around I run slightly behind the 3.30 group. As we cross the river and head towards the outskirts of Badajoz I remember that is the most boring part of the course. It is flat, and we go out and back following the same long avenue.
It gets more interesting as we cross the old bridge of Palmas over the Guadiana, before turning left and surround the Alcazaba, arriving to a section with some slopes around kilometres 14-16, that promises to be hard work for the second lap.
Keeping the 3.30 group in sight, I cross the half marathon in 1.45.56, three minutes faster than last year. The second lap will become a different business, as heat and tiredness start affecting my performance. My pace decays and heading back to Badajoz the 3.45 group starts closing the distance, until I get caught. The pacer encourages me to go with his small group, and although I tag with them for a couple of miles in the area with slopes, I finally fall behind in a drinking station.
Luckily the worst is gone, as we get in the town centre, where public is more present and helps to get that energy, so necessary near the end, and that every runner knows well.
Final time of 3.48.35 (vs. the 3.46.58 of last year), and position 256 out of 558 finishers. Third marathon of the month, and still lacking that additional punch in the second half of the race. Maybe a consequence of the training missed in January, or the competition excess in March.
For April I have lined up A Coruña marathon, my debut in Galicia, and Aveiro, in Portugal, that is going to celebrate the first edition of its Maratona da Europa.
Score: 4 / 5
Pros: cheap registration; flat course.
Cons: course open to traffic (although well marshalled) and excessively out of town; considering the number of athletes a running expo, open at lunch time, would offer a warmer welcome.