After my first experience in this marathon last year, I had already clearly in mind that I would try to come back again, as it just happened. Aguilar de Campoo is a village in the north of Palencia, popular because of its many biscuit factories (Gullón and Siro among the most popular ones), and holding this year “Las Edades del Hombre”, a popular itinerant exhibition that shows some of the best religious art of Castile and Leon, under the “Mons Dei” running title, that takes place (partially) in the church of San Miguel, on which lateral the finish/start line will be located.
Things got complicated after my last marathon 4 weeks ago. On the same day I did my first recovery training, but only getting up from a chair, I felt a strain on my left thigh. Although I thought that it wouldn´t go anywhere, next morning I have difficulties stretching the leg. Diagnosis: muscular strain of the upper quadriceps. After one-week rest, and treated properly with ice, compression and some anti-inflammatory gel, I do a full recovery, with 2 weeks left before race day.
This marathon is mainly a one-man effort. Thanks to Gabriel Ruiz García the race is already celebrating its 21st edition. Without any big sponsors, he is the one that proceeds with registration, trophies, gifts, controlling times and even installing the podium and finish area himself with the help of some volunteers. He is clearly the soul of the race. And everything for a marathon that offers FREE registration. The number of participants, surprisingly, hardly goes beyond 30. This year the entrants list counts with 25 runners, but among them some of the most experienced “amateur” marathoners in Spain.
In a friendly, and almost intimate start at 9am, 14°C and a forecast of electric storms in the afternoon, the course will leave Aguilar from behind the church, towards the biscuit factories for a first small lap. Once we finish this introductory lap and back in the church, there are another 5 long laps to complete the marathon distance, that will take us outside Aguilar, towards the tiny village of Villallano, where we will turn around following the same road, which allows to keep the race controlled, as every runner meets the other ones a few times every lap. I try to keep the first runners in sight, and even get to a momentary 5th place, but I quickly go down to an 8-9th position. The runner in the lead keeps opening the gap with the chasing runners behind, a difference that will become definitive. I am not feeling fully charged, with the last weeks overwork taking the edge from me, on top of my only 2 weeks of training. Just as I finish the 3rd lap, the leader is just finishing his 4th. As I go from my 4th lap onwards I start losing positions, unable to keep the punch that got me to my season best last year (3.35.18) on the same course. The last lap is an effort to avoid the 4 hours barrier, that I finally attain in 3.59.16, and a 13th position out of 24. Finishing more than 20 minutes behind last year offers a sour taste, although the camaraderie soon erases these feelings.
With the summer season around the corner, and not a clear marathon in sight in the immediate future, it seems as the ideal time to get shorter races and start planning the autumn season.
Score: 5 (out of 5)
Pros: atmosphere; free registration; trophies for everyone (plus biscuits, cereals and cakes); sometimes one-man effort can achieve much
Cons: local council organising another race on the same day