A solid and beautiful medal awaits all who complete the marathon. The medal is worn with pride for days by some of the runners.
I was invited in a group consisting of 12 people, all bloggers and journalists from nine different countries, to attend the Valencia marathon (for my part, this occurred only two days before the program started). We were taken care of by the Valencia Tourism, who had put together a rich program for us.
Guided sightseeing on bike.
Saturday we were guided around the city by bike. Valencia is a beautiful city, consisting of a combination of old buildings and futuristic complexes. Valencia is also shaped by an empty riverbed that serves as the city’s sporting nerve. Around 8 km long, well used by joggers, cyclists and pedestrians..
Paella is the local`s standard lunch menu.
For lunch the locals “always” eat paella. The real paella apparently originated from Valencia, so we were able to test a few different types during our stay. The inhabitants of Valencia are proud of their city and their region. The region is also Spain’s largest producer of Oranges.
The city is full of decorative orange trees.
Saturday we had a collective bib number pick up and was received by the chief of Valencia Marathon. We got a quick tour around the Expo, including the start and finish area and were sent of with the best wishes for the race the following day.
We did get a private tour with the head of Valencia marathon, Alex Heras. Behind us is the finish line with the blue carpet.
It is a spectacular race setting! You get the feeling of being on a different planet. The last 195 meters are “on” the water, on a blue carpet. The thought behind it is to give you the feeling of floating. It is phenomenal, although not everyone feels that they are floating in this stage of the race… It is also a tribune there with seating for 2,000 spectators and it is full!
Beautiful twilight at Ciudad de las Artes. Start and finish area.
We could walk from the hotel to the start, we just followed the riverbed. It was a great way to start the day. I walked along with the Danish journalist Jorge. We walked past the elite bus with the future African winners, a slightly surreal experience. When we later walked past the ambulances, Jorge commented that this was more likely the “bus” he would end up in. He runs to unwind and does not chase finish times, he also had an injury in the foot that troubled him before the start. He never uses any supplements of vitamins and such, other than garlic and drafted beer, fantastic! And very Danish humor. The goodie bag we got with our bib number contained everything! From vitamins and minerals, intimate wash, cooling spray for tired legs, towel, gum, snacks and nuts, juice, face serum and creams, shampoo, a taxi discount, quinoa, protein bar and a can of beer! (you know you’re not in Norway when there is free beer in the goodie bag). They had thought of everything and some more, impressive!
Sunrise before the race start.
Over to the actual race. Because of my late enrollment, I was placed in the last starting group, for those who plan to finish in more than 4 hours and it was not possible to change my starting time. The sound level before the start was striking. The atmosphere before races in Scandinavia are quiet and calm, not so here! All the talking and “fiesta” made the atmosphere informal and relaxed. Since I started out in the last group, I had the idea that I as soon as possible, had to find a way to run ahead to meet up with the runners who ran in my planned pace, not an easy task. Although the course is flat, wide, straight and have few turns it still was challenging to get around everyone. I ended up running an ultra marathon; 43.35 km. I also ended up over compensating and ran the first half of the race too fast. I ran 18 km in total with a pace below 5. My planned pace was around 5.10! They had painted a line in the street that showed the fastest way to the finish, in gold of course, since the course has achieved the gold standard. I followed the edge most of the time, because it was easier to pass other runners there.
From about 5 km I started to notice a man who ran at the same speed as me and who apparently had the same plan as me. I clinged on to him and it ended up with us two running together for about 13 km. It gives a great boost running together at the same pace and flow as another runner, you feel strong and somewhat invincible and I couldn’t care less about my time schedule, big mistake!
At first I was afraid that he experienced me as annoying, but after a little while I understood that we had a joint understanding about this co-running. Regarding my own accomplishment I had totally unrealistic ideas about how it should end. I thought to myself if I just kept running with him I would get enough energy to hold all the way to the end, but that is not how it works!
At 23 km I have to drop him and my struggle begins. A bit early, I think to myself, so I try with some mental conviction. It keeps me going until 27 km, then it comes to a full stop. A volunteer asks me what’s wrong ( “¿Qué te pasa Angelika?” I have written my name on my bib number, a great tip if you want personal encouragement 😉). “Don’t think you can stop here!” Thank you volunteer, that helped me going again, or running….!
Cramps sneaks into both my legs and thighs. Insoles have decided that today is the day to give me some rare blisters. I take advantage of the cooling spray that is offered along the course, imagining it being super effective on my legs, using the placebo effect for whats its worth. The gases from the cooling spray sting my eyes, even better I think, that will trigger sympathy and understanding from the spectators, the effect is complete 😉
I try to convince myself that I like pain, but it doesn’t work for very long. For a short while along a part of the course filled with a completely hysterical, enthusiastic audience and suggestive music, I manage to ignore the pain, but then it’s right back again. I am not able to enjoy the surroundings, my only thought is that I must keep going or rather running. Quite a few runners around me start to walk, especially older men. The phrase “one more step and you are one step closer to the goal,” is going on repeat in my head. The encouragement from the crowd increases even more when I get closer to the finish line, and God forbid if anyone would see me walking! I’m not floating over the blue carpet, as the intention is, more like stumbling. I’m being taken care of by the paramedics full of empathy and concern for my well being and whether I’ll be able to walk any further. I am being offered free massages and my blisters are being taking care of, what a service!
3 students are giving me full blister attention.
I missed by 46 seconds to get a new PB. It was just one months since my last marathon. But then I realised that I actually got a new unofficial PB, because Valencia marathon ended up being an ultra marathon 43.35 km and not 42.1, because of all my extra twist and turns! Strava recorded 42.1 km in 3.37! Official time was 3.43.08. The potential for bettering my time is there and it will be developed further. Besides, I’ll be running Valencia marathon again in the future. My next trip back to Valencia will be in March 2018 for the half marathon and the world cup. I am going as an inspirational leader and hope that many of you will join me and Pampas Travel (link for booking or send me an email). Valencia half marathon will start and finish in the same spectacular place as the marathon. Absolutely worth experiencing!
Happy face, but a little “air out of the balloon” feeling. Needed some time to digest the experience. It was overwhelming.
Some facts about Valencia Marathon:
It is the fastest course in Spain and now also with the fastest time registered in Spain. The winning time was 02.05.15.
There are 1,500 volunteers, who are doing everything to give you a great experience.
200,000 spectators distributed along the race course, which applaud and cheer you on, as if you were an elite runner, from the start all through to the finish line.
It is 210 different places along the course with entertainment and music.
Valencia gets 45,000 visitors for this event. Hotels and restaurants have all done their best so you as a runner can have an optimal time.
The whole city is engaged in some way to make Valencia marathon a perfect experience for you.
Conclusion: Valencia Marathon is a race that I really recommend, regardless of race distance!
Muchisimas gracia Valencia!