Madrid Marathon – 28 April 2013

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…





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  1. Haha!! yes Richard, you’ve just about covered all the basic ingredients for a city marathon, (most of which I completely agree with).
    A brilliant read, to which I would add the ‘Run Forest, Run’ shout, usually yelled out by a obnoxious 13 year old who probably hasn’t even the film from which it originates and thinks they’re the wittiest person in the world by directing it to runners.

    • Badger on 30th April 2013 at 14:38
    • Reply

    -people cutting across you to ‘high five’ kids spectating.
    -bloke in a mankini.
    -bloke with utility belt with all manner of gels, bottles etc. (usu.
    ally Italian)
    -group of noisy Spaniards (usually Basques)
    -somebody hamming up the suffering at the finish line for the cameras.
    -somebody producing a national flag from their shorts at finish line
    -bloke grunting who remains with you whether you speed up or slow down.

    • Anji on 30th April 2013 at 16:47
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    Also “death trap” water station aftermath where people have just thrown their (usually Powerade) bottles haphazardly in the middle of the road.

    • David Rowe on 30th April 2013 at 19:13
    • Reply

    What a class read and spot on. Can we do a website artical listing all running hates?

    • Richard Jones on 30th April 2013 at 19:48
    • Reply

    Guys, I’m SO pleased I’m not alone in my thinking, totally agree with the other hates above and made my smile all the more!

    • Apples on 30th April 2013 at 23:33
    • Reply

    Brilliant, quite simply brilliant. Captures everything about a big city marathon. Had me laughing out loud tonight.Think I must be of the cynical/grumpy/humourless variety too.One last thing, based on your description re. barefoot/minimalist runners it sounds like our own Lpuis Goffe was there too.

    • Euan on 1st May 2013 at 14:19
    • Reply

    Kind of a specific one, but: The quiet of pre-race ‘minutes of silence’ (for Boston, Remembrance Day etc.) disrupted by people who can’t be bothered to turn their over-loud iPod music off for one minute.

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