We’re only in the fall season but the days are getting colder in Belgium. I was excited at the thought of spending a weekend to run the EDP Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon in sunny Portugal.
I battled pneumonia for almost four weeks so aside from a half marathon in Basel, Switzerland the previous weekend, I did not do any long runs at all. No matter; the six-hour time limit was forgiving and the course promised to be gentle.
We were up early to catch our TAP Portugal flight at 6:20 AM from Brussels Zaventem Airport on Saturday, October 1, 2016. We landed at Lisbon Portela Airport after almost three hours and indeed, the weather was sunny as promised.
Our hotel, TRYP Lisboa Oriente Hotel, was three stops away on the red line of the Lisbon Metro.
Hotels in Europe had variable check-in times; our hotel listed theirs at 3:00 PM. We were at the hotel before 9:00 AM. Too early, but the receptionist allowed us to check in anyway. Yeah!
We lounged a bit in the room before we made our way out again to pick up my bib. The marathon expo and the finish line was located in front of the hotel at the MEO Arena. The arena, in turn, was in front of the mall Centro Comercial de Vasco de Gama.
There were no freebies in the race bag. However, they were giving out Halls candies and we got a lot!
The mall is a shopper’s paradise. They also had a great selection of restaurants. We walked by the waterfront to enjoy the view before getting on the metro to do more sightseeing.
We were able to visit two UNESCO world heritage sites in Lisbon, or Lisboa in Portuguese. The 16th century massive Jerónimos Monastery was built to commemorate explorer Vasco De Gama’s 1498 voyage to India. He was commissioned by the king to find a naval route to the East and became the first European to reach India by sea. His tomb lies inside the church of the monastery.
We also visited the Torre de Belém located a few kilometers away from the monastery, near the mouth of the River Tagus. The tower with its elaborate Manueline architecture represented the golden Portuguese age of maritime discovery.
The race started in Cascais. Public transportation was free for all runners on the day of the race so I was on the red line of the metro at 6:30 AM, changed at Alameda to the green line to Cais do Sodre, and got on the regional train to Cascais. We were at the Cascais station by 8:10 AM and walked a few more meters to the start line.
The race route was beautiful! We ran by the water for the first few kilometers of the race. There were so many picture-worthy views that I just had to stop and take some. The water and the blue sky helped runners get into the zen mode.
It eventually became too warm during the race but there were enough aid stations to hydrate and energize us. They had plenty of bananas, oranges, water, and sports drinks. There were several pit stops along the race where firemen set up cool and refreshing showers.
This being a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, there were lots of bands to entertain us. One band was called Subic Bay, after the Philippine seaport. I wondered if there were Filipinos in the band but didn’t stop long enough to find out.
The race finished at the Parque das Nações, right in front of the Centro Comercial de Vasco de Gama. After crossing the finish line, we went inside the mall to get something to eat. I changed back at the hotel and we were off to the airport to catch our flight back to Brussels at 19:55 PM.