Report by: Jo Carnie
Race Date: 10th December 2023
A group of 8 of us, some Striders and some from other cities (if they lived in Sheffield they would be Striders for sure. I mean why would anyone belong to any other club??), arrived in Malaga on 8th December after a horrendously early flight from East Midlands. Our excitement was palpable but perhaps at that point it was based more around replacing the English rain with sun, seafood and sangria than in anticipation of the race.
We visited the expo to pick up our numbers and collect our very tiny vests. I am not sure why I hadn’t learned from history that southern European clothing sizes are a couple of sizes smaller than UK ones. I’ll never forget John Armstrong picking up what can only be described as a very snug crop top from an expo in Verona. Never mind, fitting into my tiny little vest will give me something to aspire to when I am doing dry, vegan, carb and fat free January.
On Friday night we went for dinner at a beach side restaurant, the young waiter was incredulous when we told him we were all running the half marathon on Sunday. He didn’t say it, but as he looked around the table I believe he was thinking, ‘almost all of you are as old as my mother, and one or two of you are closer in age to my grandmother, I think you are being a tad unrealistic’. Little did he know.
Some members of the group completed a warm up ‘ Breakfast Run’ on Saturday morning. This was a very relaxed 5km race (give or take a kilometre). It provided another chance to visit the expo and buy even more tiny kit.
The race venue was very close to our hotel, allowing for a relaxed start to race day. Over breakfast there was general air of smugness as we all knew that with only a five minute walk to the starting pens there would be zero trips to those start line portaloos.
Each of us had our own aspirations for the race and over breakfast we talked through our planned running paces. There were some last minute kit swaps and application of sun cream and we were off.
The initial kilometers unfolded smoothly for all of us on an almost flat route, back out towards the expo for the third time in as many days. We then looped back and had a chance shout and wave wildly at one another. It was around this point that a speed bump came out of nowhere and attacked Nicole at such a pace, she had no time to use her hands to break her fall. She landed on her nose and her knee. She had blood running down her face for the rest of the race and a black eye forming by the time she crossed the finish line. Nicole is the Steel in SCS. The bright and sunny weather may have contributed to the accident, it was hard to see at times. I had forgotten to take my sunnies, and was blinking like a mole, my eyes were unable to adjust to the glare after weeks of greyness back at home.
There were some out and back elements to the route, which after an initial stretch into the city was generally along the coast. It was amazing to see the elite marathon runners moving at a pace I can’t even dream of sprinting at.
The race was well organised and unfolded seamlessly. There were regular water stations, some of which also had electrolyte drinks. Most of us in the group were running at our own pace but all of us, but especially Helen, made friends with other Brits along the way.
Post-race, there was a great sense of accomplishment, we had all stuck to our plans and were happy with our times. Nicole in particular was pleased as despite the nosedive, she achieved a podium finish with 3rd place in her age category! One of the most beautiful things about the race for me was that the route for the half and the full marathons were exactly the same until a few metres from the finish where the route for the half peeled away. As the sun was reaching it’s zenith on the shadeless route, I was so happy to stop running, drink a bottle of water and then walk 5 minutes back to the hotel for a cool shower. We all met up for food and drinks at a beach bar. What post-race joy. The icing on the cake for those of us from Yorkshire was that the beers were great value!
The combination of a successful race, great camaraderie, and the charm of Malaga made the entire experience so memorable and one I would recommend.
First male was Francisco Javier De León Rodríguez in 1:05:41 and first female was Hattie Freeman in 1:13:40.
First Strider home was me, Jo Carnie with a chip time of 2:04:12, then Zoe Dickinson in 2:14:13, Nicole Nield in 2:18:06, Helen Smith in 2:20:05, and Nancy Stuart in 2:21:40.
|3431 (3rd VW70)
Full results here.