Palma De Mallorca Marathon

Report from Bryan.

So why did a pasty white Scotsman decide to run a marathon in a hot, humid and as it turns out windy island……answers on a postcard! That’s the very question I was asking myself a week ago on Sunday.

I haven’t had much racing during 2012 and was somehow talked into signing up for the Palma de Mallorca marathon….still trying to work out how that happened. My build up appeared to go well with a good finish at the Stirling 10K and Dumfries half marathon during September. The only thing I couldn’t control when I got to Palma would be the weather conditions. This preoccupied my mind during the preceding couple of days, with me constantly checking what the predicted conditions would be- I was assured rain. The rain came on Saturday night and finished about 4am Sunday morning.

Standing on the start line, it was 18 degrees, a bit of cloud and very windy….could be worse, it wasn’t as humid as it had been the previous few days. Getting nearer the start time I could feel the adrenalin begin to kick in, it may have been the 2 large coffee’s and high5 drink full of caffeine I had taken, I’m not sure but whatever it was it was starting to work. We were off at 9am and I worked my way through the group of people who clearly should not be near the front of a race and quickly got into my stride.

I went through the first mile in 6.11….well done give yourself a tick, just 25 and a wee bit to go. The race started in the shadows of the Cathedral La Seu on the Autovia de Llevant and headed west to Porto Pi before turning and heading back to Palma. As I turned at the 5K and headed back to Palma, I got some shouts of encouragement from runners heading to the turn…”on yerself Bella”, it certainly put a spring in my step. As we approached the 10K point I had picked up a few running companions. A couple of Spanish fella’s sat in behind me and although there wasn’t much talk, mainly as my Spanish would have made things complicated, it was good having the company. We went through 10K in 38:26 and I was still feeling good.

After the 10K mark runners turned into old Palma town. The course became more undulating, with narrow streets and some tight turns but it did bring some welcome shade from the now more present sun and a break from the coastal wind. A temperature read-out at the 10K showed it was now 20 degrees and 70% humidity. As me and my 2 Spanish companions made all the twists and turns around Palma, I was certain the pace was quickening, although my Garmin wasn’t giving accurate readings due to the narrow streets and poor reception. I decided that the pace was faster than I wanted so let my amigo’s take the lead…..this may have been mistake #1. Suddenly my running felt a lot harder, although the pace had felt faster, it seemed to be manageable and more comfortable, now I was feeling like I had to really work to keep them in check.

I headed round the bottom of the cathedral Le Seu and was welcomed by my good mate, Casey Morgan, my significant other, Julie and a very welcome drinks bottle. Casey had just completed and won his own epic race on the island, the Trans Mallorca run. He had intended to run the marathon but given he his race only finished on the Saturday and he had covered over 400K during the week, he was excused.

As we left Palma town and headed east along the coast road in the direction of S’Arenal, my 2 Spanish companions had about 15 second gap on me but still within reach. The heat was up and the humidity seemed even higher, the wind however was making work very hard. Through Porto Portitxol and halfway in 1:21:04…give yourself another tick, you’ve earned it. From halfway to the 30K turn in S’Arenal, it was tough going with the wind not giving me any relief and very little shade from the sun.

It was at 27K I think I made mistake #2… I turned the corner I ran over to the water station, expecting a bottle to be held out for me to grab, it happened at all the others. I put my hand out and kept running but everyone just stood and watched me run past! As I slowed down and looked back, I thought surely one of them will run after me with a bottle…….should I stop and go back…….wrong answer!

On I ran, wondering when this turn point would be – looks like the next corner….no, must be the next then…no…suddenly I’m thinking they’ve got the distance wrong, this is going to be too long. All this distracted me from the fact that the group of 2 amigos I had been chasing had become 1. Eventually 30K arrived in 1:56:18….time for the business end.

The return run to Palma hugs the coast and at some points you were running on the boardwalks over the sand. The humidity was really getting to me and I was struggling to maintain the pace I wanted. Time to rethink… I ran along, trying to recalculate pace and finish times, it was the best thing that I could have happened. Generally my brain doesn’t function at this stage in a marathon and before I knew it, I’d covered half a mile without thinking about it. I did think that I would get some welcome relief from the waves crashing over the rocks onto the runners but then I thought….sea water….salt….sun….chafing… I don’t need at this stage!

The final KM markers came and went and I managed to maintain a decent pace for the last few miles. However spying the finish line, I decided to put in an Olympic effort only to find the finish was on the other side of the road….so as I ran past the finish to the bottom of the road to turn and run back, my heart sank.

I crossed the line 2:50:59 and 12th position. It wasn’t the time I would have liked but I walked, well, more limped away with the worst blisters I’ve ever had from a marathon, happy given the conditions.

So why did a pasty white Scotsman decide to run a marathon in a hot, humid, and as it turns out, windy island….because it was there to be done!