Barcelona Half Marathon Report

11.02.18.  Report by Tom Brooks

This was my first half since Worksop 2016 because of marathon training last spring and then injury
last summer/autumn. My main spring goal is a PB (1:39:53) at Liverpool Half at the end of March,
and I’ve been stagnating a bit in training, lacking energy and focus, so I was very uncertain about my
form. I got to Barcelona the Wednesday before the race so had enough time for a full course recon
in two parts. Felt good about the course but again felt a bit tired – sustaining HMP for even a couple
of miles was difficult. A good time seemed unrealistic.

I’d identified the key goal for the race in advance: pacing. After a long break from racing last year I’d
fallen back on the classic “out way too fast then crawl the second half” pacing strategy in Percy Pud
and a few recent parkruns. So the plan for this race was a very measured tempo-ish 8 min/mile up to
the 6 mile point, then 7:45 from there to the finish. Which I calculated should get me over the line in
about 1:43.

Miles 1-6. Spent most of the time saying to myself out loud “Slow. The ****. Down”, with eventual
success as I averaged roughly 7:53 over the first 6 miles. Still probably a touch too fast as this section
also contained the race’s only ‘hill’ at a quad-busting 1% for less than a mile.

Miles 6-10. Worked my way gradually down from 7:45 to 7:35/mile. Greatly helped in this
endeavour by a Spanish guy who overtook me around the 8 mile mark, playing loud Euro-techno
through a portable speaker. Used TechnoMan for pacing and motivation over the next couple of

Miles 10-end. Stuck to a solid 7:30/mile as the effort level crept up, and had enough in the legs for a
decent finish.

Overall – really happy. Probably the best I’ve ever paced a HM. Chip time was 1:42:12 but I’m
confident I could have gone closer to 1:41 on the day as I didn’t finish particularly tired. Feeling
optimistic for Liverpool with more tempo/threshold work over the next 6 weeks!

In summary

– Price – 28 euros. Very reasonable for a race with this many positives (contrast GNR!)
– Pre-race event – central location, volunteers friendly, English speaking, big diagrams of the
course/elevation/baggage (see pic)
– Start / finish – very well organised and intuitive. Start is in a lovely part of the city (picture
shows the day before). Quick getting into the start pens, and quick getting out after the
finish. Finish pack was medal, water, powerade, banana, orange, rain cape. Start pens were
big enough so that people were warming up in circle formation inside them (try that at
Sheffield Half!)
– Course – not scenic but not boring. Mostly wide city avenues and Barcelona is a lovely city to
look at. Very flat and PB friendly. Also really well designed – the race always felt busy
without ever being congested.
– Weather – 3-4 degrees, sunny and still. Usually for that temperature in the UK I’d be in full
tights, hat and gloves but I was comfortable in long sleeved base layer, vest and shorts.

– Support – a few bands on route which were good, but informal support (crowds etc) were a
bit sparse compared to what I expected.

Full results can be found below;


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