Andy Falconer

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Barcelona Marathon 15th March 2015

28 Mar 2015 | 2 Comments |

Most running magazines would say that 12-16 weeks is the best timeframebarca vest to get ready to run a marathon. Hmmm, try 5 weeks! I was forced to have 7 months off running after stress fractures to my pelvis, followed by training too hard too soon, resulting in abductor and glute problems. The wonderful Lucy Gledhill at Coach House Sports Physiotherapy Clinic in Leeds got me back on my feet – but with just 5 weeks to go.

I’d booked the Barcelona Marathon months ago as part of my ‘Olympic City’ bucket list challenge – to run the marathon course in every Olympic city. So far, I’ve done London, Paris, Berlin and Helsinki. Having paid for it (and being Scottish), there was no way I wasn’t going to at least try and finish the course. The plan was to just try and finish in one piece and without too much damage to my body. My Irish running buddy had also been injured so we were both in the same place mentally. We were staying with amazing Brazilian friends who lived 30 minutes along the coast from Barcelona, in Sitges. Their son, Andre was running his first marathon and had also been injured – what a bunch of decrepits we were!barca finish

We all arrived in Barcelona on the Friday evening, from Manchester/Dublin/London and started what was to be the most unorthodox hydrating and carb loading regime I’ve done for a marathon. Excellent red wine, huge amounts of tapas, and very strong coffee. Nothing about this marathon was textbook! The Barcelona Marathon Expo was held in the centre of Barcelona, right next to the start and finish line, and would also double up as the bag drop area on race day. It was a big one with all the major running companies there (apart from Nike), along with plenty of other interesting smaller stalls. Asics and Gu Energy were the main equipment sponsors and they did a great job. Picking up our bib numbers & t-shirt was quick and smooth.

So you’re in Barcelona for the first time, with Brazilian and Irish friends, with an afternoon to kill. What do you do? Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia church? Picasso museum? Nou Camp stadium tour? No. We end up (after eating the most incredible tapas lunch at Ciudad Condal)barca tapas bar watching the Ireland rugby match in the 6 Nations decider, in an Irish pub! Sorry, although I did skip the first hour and wander around the city centre. Carb loading and hydrating consisted of more excellent wine and homemade, fresh seafood paella. Perfect.barca paella

It’s strange, but because there was no pressure to chase a time or hit any splits, I was totally relaxed and slept like a baby. An early train into Barcelona and we were ready for the 8.30am start. Bag drop took a while but once out the other time we only had to wait 20 minutes until the start. The temperature started off at 6C and finished at 13C, perfect running conditions under a blue sky. The Irishman lasted about a mile before he disappeared ahead and the next time we saw him was at the finish line which he’d crossed 30 minutes before us.

20,000 runners and thousands of spectators created a fantastic atmosphere. Andre had lived in Barcelona for 8 years so I had my own guided tour as we went around the city. There are two out and back sections which just seem to go on for ever, but apart from that it is an interesting and varied route. Andre and I ran the whole route together, chatting for most of the time. barca teeshirtIt’s so much easier running with someone – never had the chance to put any music on! It also meant our mile splits were incredibly even which is unusual for me. The aim had been to try and finish, come what may, but we ended up crossing in 4hrs 16mins, which was incredible. What was even stranger was that I felt better crossing the line than any of the 9 other marathons I’ve run in the last couple of years, and the next day had no limp or John Wayne type walk.

I caught the evening flight back to Manchester and was back in my bed in York by 1.30am on the Monday morning. Getting up 5 hours later to go to work wasn’t much fun! The Barcelona Marathon was definitely my favourite marathon for a variety of reasons: perfect weather, interesting route, no pressure to chase a time, great company and staying in a home not a hotel.

(4 hours 16 mins – very happy with the time given just 5 weeks of training after 7 months off)barcelonabarcelona start linebarcelona archbarca teeshirtbarca route