Sunday December 2nd, 2018
The Friday before race day myself and a friend set out from our Hotel and headed for the race expo. We were staying outside the main centre of Valencia, but the metro system there is superb and relatively cheap (around £12 for 2 day pass). A few stops on the metro and a short walk bought us to ‘Science City’ with its very futuristic architecture. I must admit I was totally blown away by the buildings here that house various museums and the parkland that surrounds it.
Outside the Science museum where a couple of running stalls, a chance to have a photo with what would be the medal and a list of all the runners taking part. I was a bit disappointed as my name was split over a couple of lines but, unlike Paris, it was in alphabetical order so pretty easy to find this time. First stop upstairs to collect my race number and to activate the chip. Then back downstairs to the expo where you collected your main goody bag and t-shirt. Vest for the ladies and t-shirt for the men. Little disappointed with the rest of the expo though, not as big as London or Paris.
Along with the marathon itself on the Saturday morning there is (for a fee) a ‘Breakfast’ run, which is a very laid back 5k but I didn’t take part this year. Instead opting for a lay in and a leisurely day doing a bit of sight-seeing. As with Paris, there were also a number of activities and races for the children to take part in too. But again as my son hadn’t come with me I decided to give the Expo area a miss on the Saturday. From what I heard afterwards am glad I did as it was rather busy. The only thing I did miss out on which I wish I had gone to was a free paella party for all runners that is held between 1 and 3pm.
The marathon organisers had arranged for coaches to pick up runners and their families from hotels that were further out, saving us having to organise our own way there and back. But that did leave at 6.30 in the morning. Bearing in mind that Spain is an hour ahead of the UK that was ridiculously early. But the hotel were very good and ensured they had a full breakfast service ready for us from 5.45 to give time to eat and drink before we needed to leave.
Once at Science City, I felt the marathon let itself down. There wasn’t really anywhere for people to go or hangout, apart from round the Science buildings. Although much warmer than the UK, at that time in the morning it was rather chilly. It was more the supporters I felt sorry for. Nowhere to keep warm or even get a coffee. There were a number of porta loos set-up for use, but as with any big event the queues quickly become quite large.
22k runners were registered for the marathon and at the same time there was a 10k heading off with another 13k of runners. What was really nice was the amount of friends/families where 1 was taking part in the marathon and the other tackling the 10k. The start for both races was around a 5-10 minute walk from Science City and the marathon was sectioned off into pens dependant on your predicted finish time. Start times ranged from 8:30 for the elite runners through to 8:55 for the last group. Have to say, unlike Paris, Valencia let themselves down a little here. The starting pens were not big enough to hold all of the runners for my group and the whole street and pavement were crammed full of waiting runners, plus family and friends. It got quite congested. Only once other groups had started and the runners could start moving down to the start line did we get the chance to move into our pen.
To help runners to get the times they are after there were 12 pacers, ranging from 3 hours to 5 hours.
The start itself is on a bridge which runs across the Science Park. 1 of the carriageways was set up for the marathon, the other for the 10k. The runners then split off into the different routes.
The course itself was on road and very flat. It wasn’t as scenic as Paris, most of it running through built up areas. From the start we headed off out to the coast and marina, through the university area, to the old city where we did get to see a few more of the historic buildings, then back down towards the start. Around 1km from the finish the road surface changes to cobbles, which is not overly pleasant on tired legs, but as such a short distance it’s manageable. For me the real attraction was the finish and not just cos I was tired and wanted it over lol. For the finish you run along through Science City and the amazing buildings that are there. The last few hundred yards on a specially made pontoon that has been set up on the water between the museums. That last section really made it for me, especially as they had set up a grandstand viewing area for friends and family to cheer. Made my day to hear my friend shout out to me at that point!