Past November we went to Valencia to run the marathon! None of the group had big performance expectations because, for various reasons, we didn’t log miles enough: that contributed in elevating the suffering normally requested.
The city of Valencia made huge investments in the past years to be protagonist of important sport events. In fact, the city hosts regattas, moto gp and formula 1 races. The boom of running took also to Valencia a half-marathon and a marathon, both very fast and crowded races. From my very superficial knowledge, I must admit, I sense Spain cities have been very smart in recent years in getting EU funds and make good use of them. Valencia has brand new or very recent infrastructures such as the airport, the tube, the port; also, university buildings are brand new. In other words, Valencia seems to desire a bright future: this leaved me a positive feeling from the moment my usual Ryanair bad experience was over (no other flights were available).
We went straight to collect the bib in the impressive “City of Arts and Sciences” complex, built in 1998 and magisterially designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. In that beautiful scenario the marathon starts and ends. We had the chance to relax a bit in a pleasant sunny day, getting familiar with the facilities of the race. Then, we got back to our standard marathon agenda where is always scheduled a comfortable supper in an Italian restaurant. Our choice was “Ciao Bella”, in the city centre (Carrer de la Corona, 8), a fine and quiet place ran by Italian restaureteurs.
Sunday is raceday! The starting point was about 3km from the city centre, so we took the free bus service to get on place. The starting area was well organized, there were changing rooms, wardrobe service and toilets in abundance. Once entered the grids, all the people tried to warm up and drop some residual garments, as usual and under the speaker’s incitation the race was off!
In Valencia it is very important to be in the right grid for your expected time. Because there is so much people it would be demotivating to be continuously overtook; surpassing would also be quite difficult if you start from rear but want to run a fast time. The course was really flat and fast and pacers were ok in maintaining an even pace.
The public is really warm and supportive along the whole course: I ran out of energy very early, and many people helped me calling my name to prevent me from quitting. In my situation I did appreciated the rich refreshment points. As I mentioned before, the finish-line scenario is beautiful and inspiring.
After the race many runners waited for friends in the park surrounding the City of Arts and Sciences, relaxing under a warm sun.
The overall experience was excellent, and was also enriched by an after race relax in the bars of the city centre, were the local people meets regularly to chat, drinking some beer and having tapas. If you can stop the Monday after the race, don’t miss a paella at Restaurante La Pepica, on the seaside: rent a bike to get there in twenty minutes from the centre. It’s an historical restaurant, in typical Spanish style: don’t go if you are a sophisticated “Michelin” type, that’s a place for people who likes to understand the context.
While I am writing it freezing and I am regretting the pleasant Valencian climate of the end of November!