The 2023 Valencia Marathon
I heard a lot of good things about the 2023 Valencia Marathon in the months leading up to it, and boy, did it deliver. This one will go down as one of my top 5 most enjoyable marathons. What wasn’t to like? The expo, the organisation, the course, the crowds, the 2023 Valencia Marathon delivered on all fronts.
The 2023 Valencia Marathon Expo
Let’s start with the expo. OK, it was a few miles away from where the expo was in 2022, so we actually went to the wrong location to begin with. That mistake was on me. The organisers actually sent out a 94 page PDF file with detailed instructions for everything to do with the 2023 Valencia Marathon. Had I taken the time to read it, I would have gone to the correct location to begin with. However, a couple of trams and trains later, the group of us found the correct location.
Once at the expo, things moved along quite quickly. Granted, we were there on Friday, which is probably quieter than Saturday. The expo offered a great selection of both official New Balance 2023 Valencia Marathon kit as well as all manner of other gear. We spent a couple hours enjoying the atmosphere.3
2023 Valencia Marathon – The Lead Up
This was a special race for me as I haven’t seen any of my friends for over three months. So when Rob, Tara and Malcolm all arrived to take part in this race it was almost like a homecoming. We had a blast hanging out on Friday night, and all day Saturday. We said we would take it relatively easy on Saturday and not walk our legs off ourselves the day before the marathon. We took a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour of this magnificent city. For a recovering American, it is always astounding to hear about a city that was settled over 2,000 years ago. The history and the modernity mix well here. We enjoyed the tour and a nice meal along the gorgeous seaside.
The weather was nice and warm, not hot, but comfortable on Saturday. In the shade the cool winter air could be felt, but it was never cold; nothing a sweatshirt couldn’t fix anyway. The group of us got back into the inner city early enough for Roisin and I to make a rather bland pasta dinner while the others all went to a local Italian restaurant. I opted for the safer choice, not willing to risk anything unknown. After that it was back to the camper van for an early night and a restful sleep.
The Morning of the Race
Roisin and I had a very early start the morning of the 2023 Valencia Marathon, setting the alarm for 5am. Once getting out of the nice warm bed, I headed for a quick shower. Our van ran out of propane the night before, (Murphy’s Law and all), so breakfast was improvised. I had my bagel with peanut butter as well as overnight oats made with Greek yogurt and a granola bar. It did the job, but I missed my coffee and toast.
At 6:15am it was time to catch the Uber into the city to meet up with Tara and Malcolm. Once there, I did get my coffee, which was absolute magic, in every sense of the word. At 7am we hit the road for our 20 minute walk to the start line. There was some confusion as to where the bag drops were, but after a wee u-turn, Tara and I made it to our starting pen. Malcolm was just in the wave behind with Rob, just ahead. As the sun came out the starting pen at the 2023 Valencia Marathon started to warm up. When they started blaring “Enter Sandman” by Metallica the adrenaline started flowing in full force
The 2023 Valencia Marathon Race Start
The gun went off precisely at 8:25am for our wave. Given the challenges I faced in this training block, I had no expectations and absolutely no pressure on myself. I decided long ago, I would go out, run strong, not look at the watch once and see what happened. It was obvious that I had not done the strength work, the speed work or even the speed endurance work. I didn’t follow my own marathon training strategies that I coach. However, I did have plenty of miles in the bank and so I knew I could run all day if I needed to. The other aspect of training I focussed on was the positive mental strength. In the weeks leading up to race day I was visualizing a 3:20 finish, crossing the line with a smile on my face.
This race had every bit the feeling of a marathon major. The crowds, the bands playing, the DJ’s blasting motivating music. It had it all. That and the 22,000+ runners on the road meant getting swept up in a couple quick miles at the start. This is nothing new to a seasoned marathoner and it adds to the excitement.
The Race Course
What can I say about the course? I’ve run on some of the best marathon courses in the world. London, Manchester, Boston, Berlin and dozens of others. However, none of these iconic courses match the course profile of the 2023 Valencia Marathon. Flat and fast is the only way to describe it. Even on the flattest parts of this course, it just felt like we were running downhill. What an exhilarating feeling.
The course meandered its way around the city, coming back on itself a few times without that “rounding the cone” aspect that some races have. The turns were gradual and the roads were fairly wide and generous as a rule.
2023 Valencia Marathon Finish
I promised myself I wouldn’t look at my watch, and I kept that promise. It wasn’t until I navigated the entire course and stopped the watch that I saw my time of 3:10:58. To say I was happy is an understatement. I knew I ran a fairly good race, relative to my training, but I got stronger as I went. My last few miles were some of my fastest splits on the day. It speaks volumes for the benefit of the endurance work I did put in. Mix that with more speed work and I know I could have ran a far better time. But that is for another day. Today was about finishing, and finishing comfortably, and that I did.
The four of us had the luxury of having our partners on the course cheering us on and Roisin, Lorraine, Helen and Aidy all deserve a big thank you for their support. This is never taken for granted as it means so much to get those personal shout outs.
Post Race Confusion
If I have one complaint, it would be this one thing, and it is just as much my fault as the organizers, maybe even more so. The plan for us all to meet up after the race was to go to Meeting Point B. The three meeting points were highlighted on the PDF we all received but I made a VERY POOR assumption. I assumed these would be well sign posted and we would be directed to the three different areas. This was not the case. After crossing the finish line, I stopped for a bit to congratulate my fellow competitors. I then collected my medal, my goody bag and headed for the exit. I looked everywhere for the signs pointing to the meeting points but there was nothing to indicate where they were.
I asked a great many people, both part of the organizing crew as well as fellow runners and their families. I was sent this way and that. Finally, I.met three friendly Irish young women who were kind enough to point me in the right direction. So after an hour and a half, and an additional 10,000 steps, I found meeting point B and Roisin waiting for me. I have a bad habit of getting lost at the end of these events. You would think I would have learned by now!
The 2023 Valencia marathon – Conclusion
I had lowered my expectations, but outperformed my goal. To me, that feels like a success. It was still in the top 10 fastest finishes as I think it was my 7th fastest time in this distance. I enjoyed this one so much, I’m tempted to do it again next year and really give it a good rattle. This result has also motivated me to really go for it in my spring marathon. I haven’t decided which one yet, but I will give it my all and shoot for something in the low 2:50’s or maybe better. Wish me luck!
If I was to recommend an event to an experienced marathoner looking to break a personal record, this is the one. It is a spectacular course and the weather tends to be agreeable this time of year. We had between 6 and 15 degrees for most of it, which is alright in my book. 🙂