Photo by Calpower (Pixabay)

In October 2019 Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge ran for the first time an unofficial sub-2h marathon in Vienna, as part of the Breaking2 Project.

But everything started a couple years earlier, in May 2017 with the introduction of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite, which introduced a new shoe technology based on three key features:

  • Lightness
  • Midsole of a novel foam with high energy return
  • An inserted carbon fibre plate in the midsole area

Since then, almost every running shoe company has launched models incorporating carbon fibre plates. Because of this World Athletics has promoted new rules to control the “shoe war career”, that had seen world records improved in the marathon (and many other distances also) in a short amount of time. Thus, more than half of the 50 best times in history has been achieved since the creation of this footwear.


The study

A recent article has studied if these shoes with carbon fibre plates had any influence on the improvement of marathon performances in the last years. To do so they used the top-100 performances in men’s marathon from 2015 to 2019. The 500 entries included 40 marathon runners who completed a marathon with “normal” and carbon fibre plate shoes.


The results

  • Marathon performances improved from 2015 to 2018 (0.88%) and 2019 (1.50%).
  • There were significant differences in performance in runners who wore carbon fibre plate shoes, finishing an average of 26s faster than those who didn´t wear them.
  • From the 40 runners who competed using both type of shoes, 29 improved their performance with the new models.
  • No differences were observed due to environment conditions, marathon orography or birthplace of the athletes (86.4% Africa, 3.60% Asia, 2.4% Europe and 0.40% America).
  • It seems that there are more convenient circuits for running with this type of footwear. Circuits where runners run faster were Amsterdam, Berlin, Dubai, London, Prague, Rotterdam, and Valencia.



Carbon fibre plates shoes has a clear effect in marathon performance, estimated between 1 and 6%, an advantage probably due to improvements in running economy.



Influence of advanced shoe technology on the top 100 annual performances in men’s marathon from 2015 to 2019. Rodrigo-Carranza, V., González-Mohíno, F., Santos del Cerro, J. et al. Sci Rep 11, 22458 (2021).

Photo by Quino Al (Unsplash)


After the incredible experience of 2019, the opportunity to compete again in Geres decided the balance against the other option that I had considered, Lanzarote, a race still in my to-do list after it was cancelled in 2014.

Once again it was organized by the Carlos Sá Nature Events, a company that has specialized in long-distance and multi-day races, especially trails. In the case of Geres, the weekend is complete of races with many distances: from 90k to a vertical mile, with half marathon, 32 and 14k races. One for everyone, with tough courses on asphalt.

On this occasion weather is more benevolent: a bit cold, but without rain in the forecast. Taking advantage of the close accommodation, it is a 5 minutes’ walk to reach the start area. The marathoners are ready to go at 9.00. The presence of Quique and Pepe is missing, absent on this edition.

Once the race starts, and after a small lap around the village, it is time for the first uphill section. Aware of what must come, I take things easier than on the previous occasion. This ascent gets us to the first drink station around kilometre 7. It has been almost 550 meters of ascension that we have mostly to descent now. Then I realised that I forgot to activate my chronometer. Therefore, I will have to run on feelings and approximate step times.

After coming down from the first mountain is time to ascend the next one, and then the next one, and so on. I had forgotten how tough this race was. It’s curious how we end up blocking the hardest bits, to keep only the positive ones.

At a drink station I ask a runner carrying a GPS how many kilometres we have run: a little more than 29 in about 3h and 15 minutes of race. With the worst of the race done, and considering that the last 8 kilometres are downhill, it is feasible to improve the 2019 mark from 4.31.31. Thus, the specific training sessions of the last weeks, with uphill sections and ladders, would be productive.

Completing the last ascent, you reach the Miradouro de las Curvas de Sao Bento. It is the downward section from there that offers the best views. With the legs quite well, it seems that the energy management has been the appropriate. Going down in cruise mode I get to the surroundings of Geres, where a small tour directs me towards the finish line.

Crossing the finish line without knowing the time, I calculate it about 4h25m. With the classification in hand my official time is 4.24.16 (maybe a few seconds less in net time). Considerably improving my PB in this race I finish 142 out of 270 finalists.

With Geres I finish my marathon number 10, and predictably last, of 2021. Next few weeks I may run some San Silvestre and start preparing to face 2022. Next year, if Covid-19 allows it, the marathon calendar may return to normality.


Juan Ruiz, Gustavo Ramírez & Juan Medrano, first three positions in the first marathon in Mexico on November 27, 1910 (El Tiempo Ilustrado, nº 49, December 4 1910)

Athletic competitions emerged in the United States in 1876 to commemorate the centennial of its independence. They were called Patriotic Games, and it is under this format, as Juegos Patrióticos o Patrios, that these athletic competitions were introduced by them in Mexico in 1892, to celebrate their 4th of July.

In Mexico, sports clubs would be responsible of spreading athletics. It was they who established a sports community, with facilities and organizational capacity for athletic meetings, or Field Days. It was in 1897 when they organized an athletic competition for the first time. Among the most influential clubs in the early days of Mexican athletics were the Reforma Athletic Club, founded in 1894, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), founded in 1902, and the Mexico Country Club, founded in 1907.

Mexicans found in the longer distance races a space in which to establish their hegemony and build a new social image of the Mexican as an athlete, although among its indigenous population, such as the Rarámuris, foot races were already part of their culture and traditions. The Juegos Patrios brought the races closer to the people. Its athletes began to excel in the longer distance events compared to the USA athletes, who used to prevail in the shorter events.

For the first marathon we should wait until 1910, when it was planned to organize an athletic event to commemorate the first centenary of National Independence. Among the events that were going to be organized, the runner Eligio Castañón suggested to include a marathon.

To see if participants would be suitable for this challenge, a 25-kilometer race was organized as a rehearsal, which turned out to be a success.

Thus, on Sunday, November 27, 1910, the first “official” marathon was held in Mexico City, over about 40 kilometres (42,195 meters had not yet been stipulated). Ten Mexican athletes participated, and the winner was Juan Ruiz, from Oaxaca, in 3h05m, who was accompanied on the podium by Gustavo Ramírez, from Xochimilco (3h30m), and Juan Medrano, from Guanajuato (3h36m). Only 5 participants managed to finish in a race where the winner was awarded a gold watch.

As a curiosity, the oldest marathon that is still celebrated in Mexico is the Rover Marathon, which has been run since 1954. Framed in the category of trail, its route departs south of Mexico City to finish at the Centenario Stadium, in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos.

Regarding the Mexico City Marathon, its first edition was in 1983, taking the Boston and New York marathons as referencee. On September 25, 1983, 6,500 men and 500 women started at the Hermanos Rodríguez Autodrome, following a route that ended at the Monument to the Revolution. The winners were Casimiro Reyes in the men’s category (2.29.35) and María del Carmen Cárdenas (3.05.00).

Since then, many Mexican athletes have stood out at the international level in the Philipides event, but that is a different story.



Por la patria y por la raza. El surgimiento del atletismo y el primer maratón en la Ciudad de México (1892-1910). Miguel Ángel Esparza Ontiveros. Letras históricas no.21 Guadalajara sep. 2019  Epub 24-Abr-2020.

El Maratón de la Ciudad de México: un enfoque desde la Geografía Cultural. Proyecto de Tesis para obtener el título de Licenciado en Geografía. Bruno David Contreras Patiño. UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTÓNOMA DE MÉXICO

Juan Ruiz, arriving to finish area and receiving a gold watch as trophy (El Tiempo Ilustrado, nº 49, December 4 1910)


Wanjiru running to victory in Beijing 2008 Olympics

"The speed of the falling water is constant. I think that is how a marathon race is supposed to be run on both sides of the halfway mark - consistently, like the water through the falls" Samuel Wanjiru

Sunday August 24 at 7.30 was the scheduled time for the men´s marathon at the Olympics of Beijing 2008. Ninety-five athletes from 56 nations were ready for the start.

From the top-10 finishers in Athens 2004, only the defending champion, the Italian Stefano Baldini was returning. That meant a lot of new faces, but not at all newcomers to the distance.

The Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Gebrselassie, world record holder, decided not to run the marathon due to air pollution levels and save himself for Berlin, where he had established the WR of 2.04.53 the year before. Despite his absence in the marathon distance, he competed again in the 10000 metres, where he managed to finish 6th in an event where he had been Olympic Champion in 1996 and 2000.

Kenya had never won an Olympic Marathon title yet. Famous for its distance runners, it was sending its strongest team ever: Martin Lel (x3 London and x2 NY winner), Luke Kibet (World Champion 2007) and Samuel Wanjiru. Besides the runners from Ethiopia, already with 4 golds in the marathon distance at Olympic level, other top contenders were Abderrahim Goumri from Morocco (national record 2.05.30 obtained in London 2007) or Ryan Hall from the USA (2.06.17).

Samuel Wanjiru was born in Nyahururu, a town in the Rift Valley, in Kenya, and was brought up in poverty by his single mother, from whom he took the surname. Unable to afford the school fees, he had to abandon school when he was 12. After winning a cross-country race Samuel, only 15, moved to a high school in Sendai, Japan. He had success on the Japanese cross-country circuit and in 2005, after graduation, joined the Toyota Kyūshū athletics team, coached by 1992 Olympic marathon silver medallist Koichi Morishita. He continued his progression and aged 18 broke in the space of two weeks the 10000 metres world junior record (26.41,75) and the half marathon world record (Rotterdam, 59.16). He still managed to break again the half marathon world record to 58.33 in 2007, improving the 58.53 from Gebrselassie in 2006. Debuting in the marathon distance Wanjiru got the third fastest debut marathon ever at the 2007 Fukuoka Marathon with 2:06:39. He arrived at Beijing with high expectations.

Just as soon as the marathon start Kenyans decide to run at world record pace, a strategy unusual for championships.  Running sub 3 minutes kilometres only a small group can follow them. Ten runners at front, mostly from African origins, cross together the 10k in 29.25. Ryan Hall is already falling behind.

After the 10k the pace slow down slightly, but it is only a matter of time before Wanjiru attack again after the kilometre 16. This attack leaves only 5 runners at front, that will probably fight for the medals: Lel and Wanjiru from Kenya, Jaouad Gharib from Morocco, Deriba Merga from Ethiopia, and Yonas Kifle from Eritrea. They cross the 20k in 59.10, and the half marathon in 1.02.34. The WR is still in sight.

Between the 25 and 30k Merga and Kifle do a series of attacks with the goal of reducing the group even more. The 30k os crossed in 1.29.15 with only Merga, Wanjiru and Gharib in the front.

Wanjiru runs easily, waiting for the right moment. Around the 37k he makes his move, with a short but decisive attack. In 3 kilometres he opens a gap of 18s with Gharib, while Merga, who has slowed spectacularly, is losing around 40s per kilometre until kilometre 40, which Wanjiru crosses in 1.59.54.

Nobody can catch Wanjiru. The Olympic victory is his. Twenty-one years old and his third marathon, but more importantly, the first gold for Kenya in an event such important as this. His winning time of 2.06.32 improves in almost three minutes the previous Olympic record set by Carlos Lopes in Los Angeles 1984.

The silver medal is for Gharib with 2.07.16 with bronze going to Tsegay Kebede from Ethiopia with 2.10.00. Ryan Hall finishes only 10th, with Baldini being 12th and Chema Martínez, the best Spanish, 16th with 2.14.00.

But Wanjiru´s successes in the marathon weren´t over. In 2009 he won in London with 2.05.10, and Chicago with 2.05.41, breaking the course record in both events. The WR of Gebrselassie seemed achievable in a near future. In 2010 he revalidated his title in Chicago with 2.06.24. Although his future seemed bright, destiny had different plans. In May 2011 he died after falling from a balcony at his home in unclear circumstances: murder, suicide, or an accident? It was never clear. His personal life wasn´t as successful as his running career. Alcohol related problems and various familiar issues ended a promising career when Samuel died, aged 24, depriving the marathon scene of one of its more talented runners.



Beijing Birds Nest Olympics track



Blood Flow Restriction Training, or BFRT, is a training method that places a cuff or band around a muscle of interest, inflate it to reduce blood flow and then perform resistance exercises at low intensity (20-30% maximal) but high number of repetitions (15-30 repetitions/set).

The first question that comes to mind is…


Why do restrict blood supply to muscles when is a key factor for performance?

Restricting blood flow to the muscle being trained limits the level of oxygen available to its cells. This hypoxic environment increases the anaerobic metabolism and the production of lactate. MORE lactate translates in MORE fatigue, even during low intensity workouts.

But then arises another question…


Why having a more tired muscle will improve my training?

The adaptative changes to the muscles during BFRT will be similar with those occurring with high intensity exercises.

When comparing 6 weeks training programs including high intensity, low intensity, high+low intensities with BFRT and low intensity with BFRT, the high intensity group and those including BFRT produced similar results in muscle endurance.

Greater and faster fatigue on the muscles, giving the athlete enough time to recover, allow muscles to develop and adapt more quickly.


How do the BFRT works?

Although the technique has been in use since the 1970s there is still much to be studied.

Some of the reasons behind the beneficial effects of BFRT may be due to:

  • Increased release of Growth Hormone and lactate, which drive muscle growth.
  • Development of additional blood vessels.
  • Increase of the size and number of mitochondria, that are the energy “factory” of cells.
  • Increase of the amount of protein that can be used by the body.


How about BFRT in runners?

Among runners BFRT causes “slow-twitch” Type I muscle fibres, which need oxygen as fuel, to become less active. The resulting outcome is the recruitment of “fast twitch,” Type II muscle fibres, capable of turning a runner faster.


Who else can benefit from BFRT?

Besides the already mentioned benefits on performance after including BFR training sessions on your schedule there are other populations to benefit from this technique:

  • Injured athletes

After an injury there must be a healing process, in which heavy loads and high intensity sessions are inappropriate. BFR helps to attenuate muscle atrophy in a low-load environment while speeding up recovery.

  • Post operative patients

After procedures such as Achilles repairs or knee replacements BFRT techniques allow muscles around the treated area to keep working without much strain.

  • Old people

Ageing often involves limitations of mobility. It is in these situations that BFRT is useful, keeping the muscles working in arthritic conditions or people with difficulties to raise from a chair.

Thus, it is worth noting that even wearing a cuff at low pressure WITHOUT EXERCISE can be beneficial.


Who could have BFRT contraindicated?

People with vascular insufficiency or cardiac conditions should be careful with this technique and look advice from a physician before trying it.


Did you have any experience using these techniques? If so, we would love to read your opinion. Anyway, we hope this information was useful for you.



Video from Blood Flow Restriction Therapy After Knee Surgery: Indications, Safety Considerations, and Postoperative Protocol. NN DePhillipo et al. 2018


Photo by Martin Sanchez (Unsplash)

Long-duration exercise is associated with fatigue, but what is fatigue?

Its definition depends on which fatigue model we use. Among them we find:

  • Cardiovascular/anaerobic fatigue

Fatigue comes when the cardiovascular system is unable to supply more oxygen or remove waste products from the working muscles.

  • Neuromuscular fatigue

The muscular response diminishes in response to the exercise electrical stimulus.

  • Muscle trauma fatigue

Fatigue is related to muscle damage.

  • Motivational fatigue

Associated to a lower interest in exercise performance.

  • Central governor fatigue

Central nervous system uses signals from muscles and organs to regulate exercise performance and therefore protect vital organs from injury or damage.


Marathon and the Rapoport´s energy model

A key moment associated with fatigue in a marathon is when hitting the wall, and Rapoport´s energy model tries to explain it. Thus, speed of glycogen stores (liver and muscles) depletion, linked to the fatigue, is associated with:

  1. runner’s aerobic capacity (or VO2max)
  2. density of muscle glycogen
  3. relative mass of leg musculature (larger legs = more room to store glycogen)

In this model a runner moving from A to B will need a certain amount of energy (calories) per kilometre and kilogram of body weight. 

Hitting the wall happens when running out of carbs and although they are the primary energy source, fats are also involved. Depending on running speed percentages of one source or another vary.

Substrate Usage (fat=RED or carbohydrates=BLUE) depending on Exercise Intensity (as % of VO2max) (from Rapoport 2010)

On a typical easy run, a runner uses 60% carbs and 40% fat. Carbs percentage increases with running speed, reaching 90% at intense paces.

The chances of hitting the wall in the Rapoport model are mathematically modelled and represented in the figure attached.

Considering that the average runner can run at an intensity between 60 and 85% of VO2max during a marathon and estimating the amount of carbs stored (shaded region indicates the range of energy storage capacity for a typical male runner, which is around 21.4% of body mass), would be possible to determine the distance where that runner would hit the wall.

Obviously, this is only a mathematical model subject to error (uncertainty around 5-10%), although it shows the importance of loading carbs adequately the days before a marathon.

Rapoport energy model



When carbs are out, then comes the wall
More carbs stored = less chances of hitting the wall


Good running and marathon(s) to you all!



Metabolic factors limiting performance in marathon runners. Benjamin Rapoport. PLoS Comput Biol. 2010 Oct 21;6(10): e1000960. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000960.

How recreational marathon runners hit the wall: A large-scale data analysis of late-race pacing collapse in the marathon. Barry Smyth. PLoS One. 2021 May 19;16(5): e0251513. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0251513.

LISBON MARATHON (17/10/2021 – 102)

Race start

We revisited the Lisbon Marathon for the fourth time after a 3-year absence, and after it abandoned the Marathon Rock n’Roll Marathon Series. Doing the consecutive marathons in Madrid and Logroño, 2 weeks of rest seemed enough time to recover.

The bib-number collection at the runner’s expo was, as on previous occasions, at the Altice Arena, in the Expo area. Despite its size, there are absolutely no other stands. Along with the marathon, there are also a half-marathon and 8.5-kilometer mini-marathon races, and even a 4-kilometer family walk. Unlike other events, here in Lisbon the marathon and half marathon have separate routes and starting areas. Al events only converge in the finish area.

As before, the start of the marathon is in Cascais, with the finish line at Praça do Comércio, although previously it ended in the Expo area. The organization offers the train trip from Lisbon to Cascais for the departure, as well as the use of the entire Lisbon transport system for free, showing only the bib-number, something that other cities, such as Madrid, should apply.

With departure at 8.00, it is time to get up early. Weather forecast is more benevolent than previous days: a milder temperature, with a maximum of 23⁰C and overcast skies. I arrive in Cascais around 7.15. It has not yet dawned, but in the starting area the nervousness of the race is in the air. Half of the runners are foreigners, which makes this marathon a multinational event.


Despite the indications to wear mask to enter the designated starting areas, only some of us wear it (and distances are not respected much either). In this regard, Mapoma, by comparison in terms of the number of runners, was much stricter.

After the start, we leave Cascais towards the Guincho beach, in the opposite direction to Lisbon, until kilometre 7 of the race, where we will turn around. The sky is completely covered, and the temperature is mild for running, although without a breath of breeze to cool us off.

Running quite fast (for me), I cross kilometre 5 in just 25 minutes, mainly uphill. Last week’s workouts had gone well, although my legs now feel differently.

After the turnaround, we come across runners going already in the opposite direction. There I see Lolo, with the 3h group. From this point on, the marathon will keep the same direction, first returning to Cascais and then following the seashore and the Tagus to Lisbon.

Not without suffering, I cross the half marathon in just over 1h53m. There is still half the race left and it is already feeling long… I just dedicate myself to subtracting the kilometres towards the finish line, trying to keep up the pace to get under 4 hours. Remaining 10k, I still have a little more than 1 hour to spare. From the Champalimaud there are about 8 kilometres, on a route already known, because of many training sessions and passing through some of the most touristy points of Lisbon.

Until kilometre 35 I hold the pace, although I can already feel the option of 4 hours eluding me, especially when the 4h00m group catches me and I cannot do anything to get in their wake, despite the encouragement of his pacer…

Throwing in the towel, as one might say in boxing terms, I reach the finish line with more pain than glory, with a net time of 4.05.17, for my worst record in the Portuguese capital.

Praça do Comércio (finish area)

Sometimes you enjoy the distance from Pheidippides, and sometimes you don´t, as has been the case for a race in which I have suffered more than usual. Each race is different, and you can always learn something new from them.

Next stop: predictably Badajoz, on November 7.


Diṭă victorious at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Marathon

Beijing won the voting to hold the 2008 Summer Olympics, defeating bids from Toronto, Paris, Istanbul, and Osaka. The Chinese government invested heavily in renovating and constructing the venues that would host the competitions. Athletics would take place in the Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird´s Nest.

The women´s marathon was planned for August 17 following an urban course designed specifically for the event. The main concerns for athletes during the Games had been pollution, heat, and humidity. On marathon day though, cool temperature, overcast sky and occasional drizzle were going to keep the race bearable.

There were 82 women classified for the marathon. The strong field included 6 of the 10 fastest marathoners ever, including 29 runners who had already been in Athens 2004, including the three medallists Noguchi (Japan), Ndereba (Kenya) and Kastor (USA). Again, among the favourites was Paula Radcliffe, from the UK and WR holder, trying to overcome her earlier Olympic failure.

Constantina Diță was born in Turburea, Romania, in 1970. She grew up in a farm, where she spent much time running around the animals. At high school she played handball but changed to running after participating in a race where she managed to win all the guys. As many other runners she started competing in cross country events, although she included many other distances in her racing calendar. Her first marathon was in 1997 when she won a silver medal in the European Championships of 1999. Focused more on the 42k distance she was 10th at the World Championships of Edmonton 2001, 20th at the Olympics of Athens 2004, and 3rd in the World Championships of Helsinki 2005. Her PB of 2.21.30 achieved on the Chicago Marathon of 2005 was her best credential for Beijing 2008.

The race started slowly, with many runners in a big group when crossing the 10k in 36.10 for an expected finishing time over 2h30m. Despite this, Deena Kastor, one of the favourites, was already out by the 5k.

Around the 16k, another of the medallists from Athens 2004, Ndereba, started to lose contact too, although she managed to keep the leading group close enough to maintain her ambitions. The half marathon was crossed in 1.15.11.

At that point things got interesting, when Diță decided to shake things up. She went in front and run the next two kilometres in 3.20 each, opening a 30 second gap with the still large group of around 20 runners. But they were not prepared to make things easy for Constantina: none other than the WR holder Radclilffe took the responsibility for the chase.

Nevertheless, they lacked coordination, and Ditä´s lead continued to increase. With Radcliffe suffering and the chasing group down to 10 runners, Zhou Chunxiu of China went in front pursuing Diță, who crossed the 30k in 1.45.04, 57s ahead of them. Ndereba, coming from behind, caught with the group again.

With 7k to go, Diță had an advantage of 1.10. Her 5k intervals had been unreachable. But she still had to suffer before grabbing the gold medal. Her pursuers efforts were paying off in this last section, with the gap between them closing fast. But it wasn´t enough, and Diță crossed the finish line first, in 2.26.44, only 22s ahead of Ndereba, who managed to get again the silver medal after surpassing the local runner Chunxiu in the track of the Bird´s Nest by only 1s.

It had been a tight end: a total of 7 runners finished the marathon below 2.28.00, among them other of the Chinese runners, Xiaolin Zhu, in 4th, and the other Romanian, the veteran Lidia Simon, 8th in her 4th Olympic appearance.

For Constantina Diță her victory in Beijing 2008 was the pinnacle of her sports career, at the late age of 38. She managed to classify for the marathon in London 2012, although she couldn´t repeat her success.

Her PB obtained in the 2005 Chicago Marathon (2.21.30) is still the Romanian national record.



Beijing National Stadium (Bird´s Nest)

LOGROÑO MARATHON (03/10/2021 – 101)

Ferrer Sport, for runner bib collection

Hesitating between the Logroño and Ibiza marathons for the first weekend in October, I opted for the first one for logistical reasons, with the chance of going to the Palma de Mallorca marathon on the following weekend (which in the end I had to discard).

After a bus trip of more than 4 hours, I arrive to Logroño in the afternoon. After a short break I head to Ferrer Sport to collect my runner bag. Chema Martínez is also there, presenting his latest book. From the short list of marathon participants, it seems that there will be only 70-80 for the 42k, with many more enrolled in the other two distances available: the half marathon and 10k.

The start and finish of the two long races is in El Espolón at 9.00, with weather forecast ensuring rain from 8 to 14. Although I go to rest early, the accommodation, close to the start, but also in a party area, does not allow me for a very restful night.

With noise outside until 5 in the morning, I am awake and prepared early. Raining heavily since 8, I leave just in time to leave my backpack at the starting area. Sheltered like so many runners under a nearby arcade, we reluctantly move to the starting line just before the race start.

El Espolón: start and finish area

There I coincide with Txema, whom I had not seen since the Covid truncated calendars a year and a half ago. Looking forward to his reunion with the marathon, we go out together, close to the 3h30m pacer, although we soon let it go.

The first kilometres go quickly as we move away from the centre of Logroño towards peripheral neighbourhoods. As they say out there… the kilometres speaking “do not count.” On a slope around kilometre 16 I let Txema go. From this point onwards there are a few slope mores, one of them a tunnel, and another just facing the last meters towards the finish line. The half marathon goes in 1.55.46, not too bad after the Mapoma from the previous week.

Finishing the first lap

If firstly there was rain, secondly is rain and loneliness. Once the runners of the half marathon are out, the distances between the remaining runners stretch for long. Around the 24k, I find the 3-hour pacer running back. Surely, left alone, has decided to finish his race.

From that point onward I feel better and recover some positions. Or maybe going from more to less I’m still better than the others. First, I catch the second classified female, and with 5 kilometres remaining I see Txema far away.

Chasing others is more fun than being chased. I catch him around the 39k. We only must cross a bridge and head back towards the city centre.

Finally, I cross the finish line in a net time of 3.59.34, with Txema a few seconds later, also entering below the 4h barrier. Position 40 out of 62 finishers. It is only a short walk to the excellent facilities available to take a shower, that were missing in Madrid (as was the cloakroom service).

Marathon 101 on my account, and eighth in 2021. Next stop, Lisbon in 2 weeks, to repeat for a fourth time, after 4 years of absence.

The bridge of the 37k
Wet and tired, but finishers

MARATÓN POPULAR MADRID (26/09/2021 – 100)

(Some) Maratoniacs

postponed until now, was for many the reencounter with the “great” races, those with thousands of participants filling the streets that were usual before.

Organizing the calendar before the summer, there was the option of reaching the 100th marathon in Madrid, as it finally happened. On one hand, it seemed like the logical place, alpha and omega of my marathon career.

I visited the runner’s expo on Saturday afternoon, in a gigantic IFEMA pavilion. Perhaps due to its large dimensions it had a certain soulless air, with few booths of other marathons (although there were those of Maspalomas Gran Canaria, Castellón, Oporto and Funchal). Still, there was enough to be entertained for a while.

After the usual early start it is a short walk to the starting area, where some had arranged to meet for a group photo, around 8.00. Without having a clue, the marathon family offers me a medal for my 100 marathons, which I still have to earn. Circumstances force them to offer it before the race. Due to the pandemic, the starts are staggered every 2 minutes, in groups of 500 participants, and predictably it will be difficult to meet after the race.

Already in my box, letter I, I listen to the successive starts from the previous groups, with the first one at 8:45 and mine at 9:01. Just before it, a minute of silence for the victims of Covid, and then we advance towards the starting arch. My 42k begin exactly on time.

Runners Expo
Sunrise in La Castellana
Starting area

Strangely, in the first kilometres, slightly uphill along the Paseo de la Castellana, what draws most my attention is the silence, despite the runners. As if the minute of silence had been extended, each one in our inner world, perhaps thinking of what the last year and a half meant in our lives.

Trying to enjoy the 100 marathon experience I don’t care much about my watch. Shortly after I meet Gonzalo, who had started in the previous box, and run with him for a few kilometres, until parting ways at the 10k refreshment station. It seems that I have started with more energy than on previous occasions. Anyway, this is my first road marathon since February 2020. Later on I also surpass David and Lola, although assuming they will probably catch me later.

At that point I suspect that something is wrong with my chip, as I do not hear the passing beeps on the control mats.

When crossing the half marathon my predicted final time is around 3h43m, but Madrid is Madrid, and all of us who have run there know what it means to arrive at the Casa de Campo. It is the hardest section of the race, also including the 32k wall. Until kilometre 28 I hold well the pace, but soon after I start slowing down.

With 4 kilometres to go, Gonzalo passes me again, and soon after Lola, but I cannot run at their pace. The “caceroladas” on the Avenida de Valladolid are missing, and the Chariots of Fire arriving in the Sol area, which is now avoided. The public, which until then had been mostly absent and not very enthusiastic, increases, and their cheers provide energy for the last effort. La Castellana is there, and so the finish line.

I finish the 100th marathon, winning one more medal, the second of the day, in 3.54.47.

The result is as important as the path travelled to reach this point.

Finish area
The medal
The 3 from Pucela

In the credits of the first 100 marathons I must include to: Catherine E, for her initial impulse in search of the 100; Raúl L, for the “magical” shorts that gave me my PB in Valencia 2010; Enrique B, for introducing me to the world of the “crazy” marathoners when I returned to Spain; Filomena G, for her logistical support and patience in reaching marathons that would have been unattainable; Pepe T, whose “hunt” for being the first runner from Valladolid to get 100 made me realise that 13 marathons in a year were for the lazy ones; David P, Lola G and Javi del Val, without whose presence and “clandestine” marathons the Covid “drought” would have become longer; the other “maratoniacs” for their welcome… And all those, runners or not, who over the years shared my passion for running.

See you at the next start…

The 100