Travel: Seville Marathon review
Want a flat international marathon in a beautiful, laid back city? Look no further…Rachael Woolston headed to Spain for the Seville Marathon, here’s what she thought!
As a veteran of over eight international marathons from Mumbai to Lake Garda, you’d think that I would have learned a thing or two about booking the right place for dinner the night before a marathon. But the thing about Seville, is that it’s such a laid-back city it’s all too easy to be lulled me into forgetting that you’re there to race!
Suffice to say I woke on the morning of the Seville marathon, having eaten poorly – note to self, a ‘salad’ in Spanish terms is not the same as the UK – cue eating a dish of mashed potatoes with salt cod. Still after a quick march through the early morning streets to the free shuttle buses that run from various parts of the city to the the start at the Estadio da Cartajua, I was soon focused on the miles ahead of me.
Seville is renowned for its fast times with a flat course, which was immediately obviously when I got in my start pen. Admittedly I was in a 3.15 hour pen but there were only a handful of other women, everyone else lithe, athletic men in all the latest running gear. I didn’t have too long to get myself psyched out thankfully – we set off at 8.30am.
‘Woah!’ is all that went through my head as my pen set off like a fast speeding bullet train. The event has lots of pacers for all levels but chasing the 3.15 pacer who seemed to be running for a 3.05 time, I opted to slow for fear of hitting the wall. Thankfully, there were plenty of refreshment stations, starting at 5 km and following every 2.5km thereafter, all staffed by wildly enthusiastic marshals ready with water, isotonic drinks and bananas. No oranges though – despite the streets of the city being full of wonderful orange trees!
What I love most about international marathons is that you get a guided tour as you run, and this event does not disappoint. After crossing the Guadalquivir river, the route passes the Triana district, renowned for it’s gypsy flamenco, ceramic tiles and the Castillo San Jorge, headquarters to the Spanish Inquisition, thankfully now replaced by a fantastic food market that is worth visiting. Then it was past the Golden Tower, built in 1220 during the city’s Moorish time, before we followed the river bank and then wound our way into the well known areas of the city.
Although there were some international supporters and runners, this marathon feels largely like a locals race but no less friendly for it. My name was printed on my bib and I received lots of cheers and encouragement, not to mention cries of chica. Plus, there were plenty of music stages to help buoy my spirits just when I felt like I was beginning to flag.
My favourite part of this race (other than the finish) was as the route wound its way into the green, leafy Parque Maria Luisa and in front of the Seville Plaza, a grand building built in 1922 as part of an exhibition to showcase Spain. Supporters were packed around this area and all along the route as I ran out of the park, following the tram lines past the Seville Cathedral which dominates the centre of the city. Then it was on to the final push with a stadium finish to galvanise the last remnants of energy for a PB smashing 3.16.45.
This is a well organised marathon with great support, the promise of good weather in February when the UK is usually miserably wet. But best of all, it’s a fantastic laidback city to relax and recover in, with tapas and late night, friendly bars a plenty. It offers something for all levels of runners, a sightseeing marathon run or a PB race. Not to mention a great race bag that included a windproof jacket sponsored by New Balance – and all for just 35 euros if you book early enough.
For further details of the Zurich Maraton Sevilla 2018 visit: zurichmaratonsevilla.es
Rachel Woolston, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Rachael Woolston is a journalist and founder of the women’s running community, www.girlsruntheworld.co.uk