The reject letter from VLM, the temptation of cheap flights, and the thought of some Spanish sunshine meant that 12 of us signed up late last year for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Half Marathon.
Half of the party travelled out on the Friday morning, we chose to travel on the Saturday and headed straight towards the Expo to collect our numbers – bad mistake!!! The queue was horrendous it snaked around the Pabellón de Cristal and we ended up queuing for 1:30 hours, we were so glad we weren’t signed up for the full marathon as we would have been shattered ! Bib collected, we were given a bag of stuff including a buff and drawstring bag, and also our t-shirts (an unflattering vest type for the ladies).
The weather forecast was looking stormy and each hour we checked it was getting worse !!! Although on the Sunday morning it was grey, damp and overcast at least it wasn’t actually raining. We made our way to the start line (luckily our hotel was very close by and we had the luxury of using our own toilets and not having to take a bag to the bag drop).
The full and half-marathoners all started together in the same area, with the 10k option starting 30 minutes earlier. The first 5k headed out of Madrid on lovely wide roads towards the Bernabeu Stadium, but running felt really difficult and I felt as if water was pouring off me, I was boiling hot and I wanted to be sick, things just weren’t right. There was a water station at 5k where there was the usual pushing and shoving for a bottle of water. It wasn’t until our post-race refreshments, in an Irish pub, that we all discussed how difficult the first 5k was, and I vaguely remembered someone telling me that Madrid was at high altitude; this had obviously affected us all, it was a really weird feeling.
After 6k we started to turn back towards the start and the course felt as if it was going downhill and the sickness seemed to disappear, the running was good now and the other runners all seemed happier, there wasn’t a lot to look at as this was quite a built up area, but the roads were lovely and wide. At 11k we turned left and crossed over the 3k marker and headed back down towards the Retiro Park. There were a few inclines but generally the route felt more downhill. At the 14k marker the marathoners turned right and headed out towards the Expo area, everyone was waving and wishing them good luck. There was a lack of live bands playing as advertised in the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, but there was great crowd support.
The field now obviously thinned out, although there was the odd marathoner who had decided that 42k was just too far, and had opted to follow the 21k route. At 16k we started the outside loop of the Retiro Park, bananas and gels helped us with the final 5k, although the hill at 19k was a real killer and it was at this point that we all decided our “wheels fell off” !!!
Running into the park was great as the finish line was nearly there, the support was fantastic and I could see on the big screen that the first marathoner wasn’t that far behind me. The lead motorbike beat me but the runner didn’t !!!
At the end large chunky medals were placed around our necks, we were given water, powerade, a bag full of gels, an orange, a cake, a banana. I waiting around for the others and then it started to rain. I met up with Rachel, and as the rain became more persistent and we became colder we decided to head for the hotel, as was our pre-race plan. It was a long wet walk back, but sitting in the hotel bar looking out the window watching the marathoners finishing and wandering home we were glad we’d chosen the half. We then started the important post-race re-hydrating.
All in all a great weekend, Madrid was a lovely city, the race was well organised, the only downside was the Expo and the weather.
By Cathy Keay
STEVE DAMMS 1:50:46
ANDY CUTTING 1:56:58
TREVOR DAY 2:01:40
CATHY KEAY 2:05:03
RACHEL BROCK 2:09:41
NATALIE DEVEN 2:15:47
MYLENE FEENEY 2:36:01
ANGELA DAY 2:32:21
DARREN CHAMBERS 2:45:23
NICOLA ELLIS 2:45:23
EMMA CUTTING 2:47:54
JANE DAMMS 2:47:54