If you’ve been running for as long as I have then you would have no doubt encountered that magical feeling called “runner’s high”, where your run/race/competition has gone better than expected and you feel like you could give Mo Farah a run for his money (and after his recent appearance at VLM he’s got plenty of that ).
But after a high usually comes a low, and for Richard Jones (who ran the Dust Bowl Series a few months ago) that moment came on Sunday.
Take it away Richard.
Rather than write something along the lines of “I went to Madrid, ran the marathon, had a good time and came home…” I thought I’d try and do something a little different for a race report. Now I’ve done several “big city” marathons and throughout this one I was mentally ticking off common occurrences, things that I usually see or experience in the bigger city events that I don’t see on say, smaller trail marathons. I thought it would be fun to list them, to see if they resonate with you or else prove I am in fact cynical/grumpy/humourless/all of these.
So, in no particular order, here is my list of “essential elements” that make up a “big city” marathon:
- Poor value for money goodie bag (the larger the actual bag, the worse the contents)
- Overpriced pasta party, usually attended by “immediate family supporters” in vast numbers
- Overpriced running gear at the Expo
- Elaborate warm-up routines at the start, often incorporating Usain Bolt-like sprinting
- Self-proclaimed “100% Vegan” runner, with wording emblazoned on the back of the top – what do you want, another medal?
- Runner actually running in the opposite direction to find running friends – WHY? Should be taken out by official marathon snipers positioned on rooftops
- Smug looking runner wearing the latest “natural running” footwear – does the beard come as an accessory with the shoes?
- Even smugger (but impressive) runner actually barefoot
- Delusional marathon relay runners, usually wearing a corporate/accountancy firm t-shirt, who actually believe they are somehow competing on par with marathon runners
- Runner dressed in full ultramarathon desert regalia, as if a road marathon will somehow simulate the conditions…trust me, it doesn’t so leave the gaiters at home
- First time worn trainers/top/shorts/full ensemble
- “BO Monster” runner
- Loud random proclamations of “Italia”, “Espana” or other county name, usually in the confines of a tunnel
- Runner wearing rugby shirt/black work socks, often seen sprinting at the start (I’m in the lead/on the telly!)
- Walking runner(s) within the first few miles, the bigger the event the sooner from the start
- Gorgeous female runner accompanied by jealous muscle-bound boyfriend who hates running, glaring at anyone who so much looks at his “property”
- Dramatic reduction in the general pace/flow of runners at the most meagre of inclines
- “Balloon chasers” amassed behind the official pacers, like some sort of moving speed bump to slow everyone else down
- Male runner in drag – you just never see a woman dressed as a bloke
- Runner using mobile phone to chat, text, tweet of post something inane on FB, sometimes followed by…
- Mobile phone pinball on the ground
- Mental barking dog, clearly not enjoying the marathon, being restrained by a spectator
- Spectator screaming as if just won the lottery when in fact they have just seen their family member/friend they left at the start about an hour ago
- “Frogger” type members of the public, often old, who just won’t wait to cross the marathon route or go round, often heard remonstrating they have lived here for 100 years, have a right of way, blah blah blah
- Cyclist/Rollerblader accompanying a runner, getting in the way of other runners (sniper alternative target)
- Mobbed first table at every water station with subsequent tables virtually void of runners
- Spectators in the “secure finish” area, usually helping themselves to food & drinks meant only for the finishers
- Vast numbers of “immediate family supporters”, the larger the event the more family at the finish
- Half marathoners wearing the same medal as the marathon finishers
Madrid marathon done in 3 hours 48 minutes; a hilly course, a bit narrow in parts for the numbers involved, wet and windy, thankfully the vast number of half marathoners went their separate way at mile 10…