Barcelona, in just saying the name makes you want to join Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé in a karaoke session never mind getting involved in this running malarkey that we all seem to enjoy. This Catalan capital is definitely a top European tourist attraction and the 1992 Olympic Games showed what a flair for organisation the Catalans had, and one they have carried forward to all aspects of tourism including sporting tourism today.The Barcelona Half Marathon has had to take second place to the new Barcelona Marathon which was reborn in 2005 and is held 4 weeks later. However, with 12,500 entries the Half Marathon is a great race and looks set to become very popular with runners as it establishes itself. The route this year was slightly altered because the organisers increased the entries by 5,000. There was a 2 hour 30 minute cut-off because of the need to re-open roads and chip timing mats every 5km around the course.
The Barcelona Half Marathon route is a flat, fast course that takes in many of the City’s sights. It can best be described as a figure of 8 – which is great for spectators and supporters. Starting at 08:45 the first 10 miles of the course is run on many of the City’s wide boulevards with shade from the tall buildings being an appreciated feature. It starts, and finishes, by the ‘Arc de Triomf’ close to Barcelonetta, heading east along the seafront towards the Columbus Monument, at the bottom of ‘La Rambla’, up towards ‘Plaza Espana’, turning right onto the ‘Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes’ before twisting around the ‘Arc de Triomf’ and heading for the wide boulevard that is the ‘Diagonal’, before the final 3 miles brings you back along the seafront.
The race was won by the Kenyan Abel Kirui in 1:00:28. By the time I finished in 7926th position after 2:02:15 the sun was high in the sky and I really had felt the heat and consequently greatly appreciated the water tables every 5km. Someone said the temperature reached 25 degrees and it certainly caused a few runners to be in need of medical attention during the course of the race. I was disappointed in my time but at least I have another t-shirt and medal to show for my efforts.
Barcelona is a great place to visit and the group I was with certainly enjoyed seeing the sights, eating out and having a great time with the non-stop night life. I caught up with a few old friends and made some new ones, especially at the post-race party Sunday evening into Monday morning. My problem now for next year is whether to run the Barcelona Half again or to opt for the Malta Half which is held on the same weekend unless either changes their date.