Monday, 26 March 2018

Valencia Half Marathon and Spanish Sun

2 years ago, I raced in the mass start of the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, and thought it was a fantastic event. When someone told me the 2018 equivalent was to be held in Valencia, I jumped at the chance to to participate. Timing wise it worked perfectly, both in preparation for the London Marathon (4 weeks out), and a Saturday evening race meant the chance to be able to check out the city the following day.

The location for the race was at the the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’: a very impressive building and backdrop for the start. There were about 150 elite men and 120 elite women making up the IAAF World Champs Race, followed by 12,500 runners in the the mass participation race.

The course was pancake flat and only had a few corners, so on paper it looked fast. However the winds on the day were just ridiculously strong, which meant I’d prepared myself to tactically tuck in at times. On the plus side, the wind direction and route of the course meant that we would at least have a tailwind on the way back.

As with any big city race, we were required to warm up quite significantly before the gun, however what made this race slightly different is that the mass participation race was held back 30-40m behind the IAAF race. Whilst I fully appreciate that IAAF race needed a bit of space at the start, I certainly was not prepared for it to be quite that much! The gun went, and I’m sure that Geoffrey Kamworo led the field out at some crazy pace. Meanwhile, 40m back was a full-on tussle for a good position on the road, and also many of the mass start participants trying to latch onto the World Champs race (myself included).

I was tracking Johnny Thewlis and Jonny Cornish, and we rapidly moved through the field before settling down into a group running at just over 5 minute miles. Given the size of the group (about 20 runners), it was quite easy to tuck in. We went through 5k in about 15:45 and I was feeling comfortable, and then through 10k in just under 32 minutes. The group had shrunk quite significantly by this point and I found it very important to close down splits when the stronger runners went off the front, as we were still into a head wind at this point.

Shortly after, the course turned back towards the start/finish and it felt like the pace surged. I found myself at the front of the pack, was feeling good and happy to push on.

By this point I was checking my watch at each kilometre marker, as I knew it was going to be very tight to make my sub-67 target. I went through 18k in 57 something, went through 19k in 60 something, and got to 20k in about 63:30. My 5k split from 15k to 20k was 16:00, a relative stroll compared to the race winners 13:01! I tried to find an extra few seconds, but I’d hit top speed, and when I got to 400m to go, I needed to finish within about 70 seconds. Not even a gale force wind could push me fast enough, and I eventually crosses the line in 67:06. Slightly frustrating not to break 67, but equally a 2 second pb is still a pb, and gives plenty of confidence ahead of London.
Jack (1:35), Anna (1:35), myself (1:07), Chris (1:08)

Whilst I finished 12th in the mass race, I actually finished about 120th overall, just was the strength of the IAAF race, and that I felt made it such a unique event. Very rarely do you get the opportunity to race with that much depth, and so I have already pencilled in for Gdynia (Poland) in 2020.

Now I’m looking ahead to London and have very little preparation left to do: 1-2 more long runs, a few shorter sessions, 12-stage and a taper. 4 weeks to go......

1 comment:

  1. very nice, i am really interested in to it . really awesome activity thanks for shearing.
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