Welcome to part 2 of my Barcelona Marathon and City Guide! If you missed part 1, go and check it out here for tips and tricks on getting around the city, navigating the expo, and a few fun things to do the day before (without nackering your legs!).
– Pre-Race Breakfast
I tend to have toast and a banana before a marathon, so it was lucky that one of the stands at the Expo was handing out free loaves! 😉
If you don’t manage to score a free loaf of bread (LOL), Barcelona has lots of little ‘markets’ or ‘mercados’ dotted about (i.e., newsagent-like shops that have fruit and veg outside and tons of random odds and ends inside!) where you can stock up on things like bottled water, bananas, bread, Nutella (a European staple which can be found in most EU countries and doesn’t need any translating!), crackers, honey, etc. for breakfast.
One thing I couldn’t find was peanut butter – so you might want to bring some along if this is your sort of thing! Also, if you like porridge before a big race I would recommend bringing the little ‘just add water’ pots in your suitcase, and filling them up with your hotel kettle. For some reason, porridge oats can prove elusive in Europe!
I made good use of the free bread and a big dollop of Nutella, and took a banana along to the start area. Job done!
– The Start Area (Loos and Bag Drop)
Barcelona Marathon was one of the most straight-forward events I’ve been to. The best thing about it was that the Expo, start and finish were all in the same place: Plaça d’Espanya. This means that you can familiarise yourself with the area before race day, which takes some of the stress away.
The whole process – from stepping off the metro, to the bag drop, to the loos, to the corrals, was well sign posted and easy to follow – and took almost no time at all!
The slowest bit was the bag drop, as they wouldn’t let runners in until they were ready to race; so lots of people were stripping off layers and sorting themselves out right outside the tent, resulting in a slight bottle neck. Whilst this didn’t add more than a couple of minutes to the whole process, I would recommend sorting your kit out and zipping up your drop bag before you get to the tent – just out of courtesy if nothing else!
– The Corrals
Once through the bag drop, the corrals were clearly signed as part of a simple one-way system round the side of the tent (left or right, depending on which corral you’re in).
There were a few lines of portaloos, which are all cearly indicated on the start/finish area maps (photo above – you’ll see these at the expo) and I didn’t have to queue for more than a few minutes. After that, it was just a 2-minute stroll over to the corral!
The corrals themselves were nice and wide and not too crowded, and thanks to the colour-coded race tops (which plenty of people chose to wear), you can just follow the sea of runners in your group colour. Easy peasy! However, there are NO loos in the corrals, so make sure you go beforehand!
– The Marathon Course
The marathon itself was one of my favourite races, ever.
As far as the start goes, I was in the last corral and it took about 15-20 minutes to get over the start line. Each corral was showered in a cloud of confetti, and sent off with a huge cheer, which was EPIC!
There are a few things to consider with regards to the marathon course:
- The course is extremely flat, but there are a few very gradual inclines and downhills, especially in the first few miles. Pace yourself, and don’t shoot off with the masses.
- Aid stations are every 5k, and as with most European marathons they offered bottles of water, fruit slices (orange and banana) and nuts. Later in the race they also provided bottles of Powerade – however I would check the race info ahead of time to confirm the exact sponsor and therefore the exact drinks/gels on offer. This year, it was Gu gels.
- This race was extremely spectator-friendly, and the course map lists the best metro stops for various points along the route. The best spots are where the course doubles back on itself – this year, it was at km 4/10, km 18/22, and km 26/31. My boyfriend managed to spot me about 5 or 6 times, which is a new record! There were also minimal barriers on the course, and spectators could cross the road at lots of points, which made things easier.
- The roads in Barcelona are wide, straight, and long. This means that you need to zig-zag a bit to reach the aid stations, so I would inch towards the side of the road shortly before you reach them to avoid hindering runners around you. As with other races, they’re located slightly after the 5k markers, so don’t expect to see them straight away. Having said that, they were well stocked and not too crowded! 🙂
- As the roads are quite wide and straight, there isn’t a whole lot of shade on the course – almost none in the second half, especially on the stretch along the coast. Make sure you wear plenty of suncream, and hydrate well if it’s warm. They did have a sprinkler set up around km 30/31, which was looovely!
- Get ready for high fives! The crowds in Barcelona are magic, and will shout, whoop and cheer you round the entire way. There are also tons of drummers and singers and dancers. Make the most of it, and have fun!
– The Finish
The finish area is the same as the start, so it’s nice and simple to find your way around. After the finish line they give you water/Powerade, your medal, and then you’re funnelled back into the bag drop tent. I had my bits and was off towards the meeting point in less than 10 minutes!
The designated meeting area is back on the Plaça d’Espanya, which is a nice wide open space and right next to the metro! I wouldn’t meet your friends and family any closer to the finish area, as the space around the bag drop tent gets pretty crowded.
– Refuelling, Barcelona-Style
The food market on La Rambla was my happy place. Dozens of fresh fruit juices for a euro each, take-away fruit salads, sweets, meat, olives… The selection was endless!
For a post-marathon meal in Barcelona, it has to be paella, paella, paella! And Tapas. Most restaurants in Barcelona offer a fairly standard menu, at a reasonable cost. We headed down to Barceloneta, which is on the same line as Plaça d’Espanya (so it’s easy to get to). There are tons of little food places towards the beach, which offer set menus of tapas, paella and sangria – all the good stuff!
Alternatively, there are plenty of places to eat near La Rambla. You’re pretty spoilt for choice! But I highly recommend that you make the most of the huge variety of tapas on offer, and try the seafood paella – it’s delish! Plus, sangria. No brainer, right? 😉
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Are you running Barcelona next year? Is there anything else you’d like to know, that I might have missed? Add a comment below, come find me on Twitter, or ping me an email at email@example.com 🙂