Madrid half marathon done on Sunday 28th April. Over 26,000 runners ready to cover a distance of either 10k, half marathon or marathon. Three races in one.
Overall a half marathon to repeat, I would also consider the marathon. It would have been a really hard course on a hot day.
The best – great course, good organisation with lots of organisational support throughout the race, good amount of goodies post run and you get a technical t-shirt too.
Need to improve – system to drop bags, get more people out to the streets to support and get more women to run.
I signed up to the race in December. It looks like places had not sold out allowing an increase in numbers after the Boston tragedy. I knew I could do the distance, just didn’t know how my legs would held after the marathon training drama.
8.15 I arrived to Plaza de Colon where the start line was starting to fill in. I still had to drop my bag in one of the 12 trucks allocated for this close to Cibeles. This was a disaster! The race started at 9am. At this time I was still queuing to leave my bag. A lack of prevision from the organisation meant massive queues and slow collection of bags. It was a disappointing start missing the one minute of silence for Boston and the five parachutes jumping right to the start line with a Madrid 2020 flag.
9.12 I managed to pass the start line. It was cold and quite cloudy, perfect conditions for running but perhaps not so good to get people out to the streets. This is the first time I run in Madrid (not counting the two 10k fun races on 31st December). It was a great course running through the centre of Madrid, streets were cut from all traffic and we passed by some main landmarks.
9.43 First water station was at 5k. The water stations are well organised and placed every 5k. Leaving late once more paid its toll and water was only left on the left hand side when I was running on the right side of the road. At this point energy drinks were finished. Thankfully this was sorted in all other stations. Right after this water station we said goodbye to the 10k runners.
10.13 Almost half way through, 10k! I had been running with Chema for 1.5k and we ran together up to 16k (10miles). Chema has been running for years and is back to do a marathon after five years not running one. Finishing the race was today’s target. Same for me as I was a bit worried about getting injured again and not finishing it as I have not been running for a while. But I was feeling good and kept a constant pace. It was a shame I didn’t have a camera, as on the hills all you could see was a colourful blanket of people.
10.46 15k and only one km to say goodbye to the marathon runners. When they went I suddenly realised that there weren’t so many half marathon runners around me. It felt quite lonely after the run and chat with Chema. It was windy and the hills seemed a bit tedious. I never knew how hilly Madrid was until I started running. It’s like a roller coaster, but it turned out to be better than I thought. For the last 4k before the last one I also noticed how quiet the streets were. The half marathon doesn’t get so many supporters. Part of the explanation is that Spanish don’t get up early, so at 11 there weren’t too many people out and about.
11.17 Only one km to the finish line. Finally we start getting support from the crowds that are also waiting for the marathon runners. All throughout the route there were bands playing at different points. It was great as it infused me with energy and gave me a push to keep going. So getting one more band at this point felt good. Last hill. Finally I went inside the Retiro park that was full of supporters. It was time to push, passed a few more people and did a final sprint. Right before passing the finish line, one of the marathon runners was crossing the marathon finish line, Ethiopian Thomson Cheregony. He finished the marathon in 02:24, position 11. He looked in pain, but who wouldn’t running at that speed?
11.24 I crossed the half marathon finish line in 02:12:26. I’m really happy that I not only managed to finish the race below my target time (02:15), but I wasn’t in pain. Also I managed to gain over 100 places in the female ranking (there were 1020 women out of 4817 runners).
The end of the race was very well organised. I got my medal and some drinks. Then there were two massive tents where you could get a free five minutes legs massage by Physio students. I think my two students were first year as at one point they were not very sure what to do! But by the time I left I was walking perfectly. Next was following a queue to collect more drinks, snacks and bananas.
Before I went back home I stayed to support some of the marathon runners. One thing that stricken me from the marathon was the low numbers of women (813 out of 10462). And it was great to see all runners sharing their support to running and sport, specially remembering the Boston victims. I will definitely be back at least for another half. Let me know if you want to join.
Also, I brought some fliers back for races, mainly marathons, taking place throughout Spain that I’m happy to share. So get in touch if interested.