21.1km: Mataró Half Marathon 2019
Updated: Jun 27, 2019
Ready to finish racing for the summer, a few of us decided to run the Mataró Half Marathon on May 19th. Firstly, I had to learn how to pronounce Mataró correctly: mat-ar-o, rather than ma-taro. Lessons in Catalan for those of us unversed!
Secondly, the race itself was a different experience for me, as race start was 6.30pm on a Saturday evening. I have morning race planning very well rehearsed at this stage. So waiting around all day for a race, trying not to use too much energy with my 3 & 5 year old running around the house, not knowing the best routine for eating meals with an evening race, was a challenge!
Much to the amusement of my husband, I did go for a siesta around 3pm and I actually slept for an hour. More a reflection of a tough week at work, than the upcoming half marathon!
If you´ve read any of my previous blogs, you´ll know I am most consumed about how I will get to a race 🚘 rather than the race itself, so my friend and I left Barcelona around 4.30pm with 2 hours before race kickoff (its a 30 min drive) . While I figured I could park near bib collection, the roads were already closed when we arrived at 5pm. But luckily we easily got parking nearby, at Carrer Roma. WIthin a few minutes of arriving, the final parking places in the car park were full (incl. the local approach of parking on the grass and parking islands!), but the general area was quiet so no doubt there was ample parking elsewhere.
We walked over to the courtyard of the Eurecat Mataró for bib collection and while we are always expected to show IDs to collect bibs for local races, it was the first time I was ever actually asked for ID. So I was glad I remembered it last minute before leaving the house. The t-shirt was really nice and very light, so a welcome wardrobe addition coming into the summer months.
I was running with 2 of mis amigas, so we did what we usually do: hung down at the back of the start, so we were one of the last to cross the start line. I always prefer this position; the race is more chilled out and people are already ahead of you so there is no feeling of being passed out. As we usually do, my friends & I wished each other good luck before we crossed the start line and got settled into running our own races. We are all at different paces, and for now prefer to run alone (maybe that will change over time!)
The outbound from the start line wasn´t the most scenic of views - the mitja marathon is not in Mataro town as such, but in the industrial estates on Passeig de Marina and then out the coast road, passing part of the town. As we wrapped up this initial part, it was unusual to recross the start line at 2km, knowing you had to come back there 3 times to reach the finish. We then ran through more industrial areas for another 1km, before we hit the N11 road, running out by the Mediterraen on our right for 3km outbound and back inbound (6km total). The wind was strong, and once exposed on the open road for around 2km, running against if was not easy, but it made the inbound (and the small downhill!) very enjoyable.
The local support was superb, and the general vibe of the race was one of community - everyone was really supportive, cheering on the athletes and the athletes supporting each other. Throughout the race, the race stewards were super encouraging, and afterwards too. The race really had the "feel good" factor in buckets!
It was amazing to see the top athletes who were in the lead on the race. I am always impressed to watch their race when we get the opportunity in a loop. A number of the top ladies had a support person running with them - I had never seen that before, so it was really interesting to see what it takes to focus on a race at those levels. Meanwhile, I was sweating, running and pushing at my level 😅.
I always have tough races. No matter the distance, you push yourself to race at your maximum effort for that distance, and around 14km it got tough. But seeing my friends passing at various parts, as it was a loop race, was a great boost!
For the final 3km, I really pushed to my max, inspired by the finish line and a summer of no racing about to greet me! I crossed the finish line at 2 hrs 3 mins, a personal best by 8 whole minutes!!
I was disappointed that night to realise I had missed 100m of the race....on investigation on Strava, it transpires there was a small detour on Carrer de Jaume Vicens that we took on the first loop, that a number of people didn´t take on the second loop. While there was a steward on the far side of the detour, there was noone to direct you onto the detour at the start of it for the 2nd loop (there had been on the first loop). While I sensed something had gone wrong in the race, I wasn´t sure what it was. So basically I missed 50 metres up and back to get to Carrer de Jaume Vicens. Not a big deal, but this reminded me of the stewarding issue at Casteldelfells Half Marathon. Stewarding is critical in a race; even if we are running at the back of a race and look like fun runners, we want to hit the 21.1km too......we have worked hard to be trained to run that distance and want to finish the complete distance 👊👊. But mistakes happen, it was only 100 metres, and overall, this was an enjoyable race for the local support and excellent race organisation! So I have an additional reason to go back next year, and complete unfinished business to hit the full 21.1km!!
Refuel Stops: there were really great water facilities, bottles and cups, with energy drinks at one point around 5/9/14/18km (as it was a loop, we passed the same point 4 times) and the start/finish line, which you passed three times during the race.
Inclines: Minor incline which was exacerbated as we were running against the wind on the outbound of each loop on the coast road.
Course Design: This was a a double loop, with the outbound and inbound of each loop passing each other for the majority
Race Entertainment: At the start/finish line, but many locals supporting en route which was awesome!
Facilities: I didn´t use baggage drop, but my friend did, and it was fast and well organised. There were around 5 or 6 portaloos at the start line, but no urinals for men, so it meant the queue could not be optimised like most other races. As you passed the start line 4 times in total, there was no requirement for portaloos en route.