We made a promise to be back in Barcelona the first time we were here for the marathon in 2016. We kept that promise just a year later, with the added serendipitous pleasure of seeing family from halfway across the world.
Richard and I took the 9:00 PM Vueling flight to Barcelona from Brussels International Airport in Zaventem after work on Friday, March 10, 2017. After two hours, we landed to spring weather at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport. For 4.50 euros each, we took the L9 orange metro to Collblanc before switching to the L5 blue line and getting off at Diagonal. I also picked up from the ticket machine our 2-day metro pass that I ordered online. The pass gave us unrestricted access to all modes of public transportation in Barcelona.The whole metro travel just took us an easy 45 minutes. Their public transportation runs flawlessly, with the airport metro line fully automated (no driver!) and the lines at the stations arriving every four minutes.
We were booked for this trip at the lovely Hotel Casa Fuster in Passeig de Gràcia, right in the heart of the city. We were upgraded to a superior room facing the avenue. A small snack tray was waiting for us, along with a gift from one of the trendy shops in the hotel. Toiletries were provided by Chopard and they smelled divine!
Loved the view from our window at night.
Saturday began leisurely with a sumptuous buffet breakfast.
Barcelona is home to nine UNESCO world heritage sites, more than any other city in the world. The hotel is within walking distance to three of them so we decided to do a bit of sightseeing afterwards before picking up my bib.
We walked to Casa Milà and Casa Batlló first. They are buildings designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi that are still being used commercially today. We next visited what is probably Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Basilica Sagrada Familia.
After our culture time, we hopped on the L11 green line to the Espanya stop. The marathon expo was being held at Fira de Barcelona.
Registration fees for the marathon varied according to the date you signed up and how many runners have already signed up before you. It was 61.50 euros for the first 10,000 participants, 73 euros up to 17,000 and 84 euros afterwards. The goodie bag did not have many freebies.
Richard’s nephew Todd and his wife Lisa were also in Barcelona for Todd’s work so we excitedly planned to meet them halfway between our hotels. We agreed to meet at Basilica Sagrada Familia for early dinner. It was nice to see them again in person after almost 10 years. Todd visited us when we were still in Yokota Air Base in Japan more than 10 years ago. Back then, he and Richard were the exercise fanatics and I was just getting my bearings in having to work out regularly.
I woke up early on Sunday morning to eat a sandwich and get ready for the marathon. The weather was cool, not cold, and promised to warm up later in the day.
My rose corral started 20 minutes after the elites took off at 8:30 AM. I lined up with the giants and the rest of the 18,000 runners, with 20% of the runners female.
Barcelona puts together a very organized race.Water and sports drinks were plentiful at every station. They also had oranges and bananas. And the sights along the circular race route! Ah, that you can’t put a price on.We started the race passing through the Venetian Towers at Plaza Espanya and football stadium Camp Nou at the 7K mark. I saw Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, and Sagrada Familia again at the 15-17K mark. I paused to have my pictures taken at Torre Agbar and by the sea, by Arc de Triomf before finally reaching the finish line.
I saw the guy running with the Eiffel Tower again. I first met him when we both ran the Dublin Marathon 2016 in October.
There were animation points or entertainment which varied between drum lines, live bands, and DJs.
Some of the volunteers and spectators themselves were eye candy. Doesn’t this young man at the water station look like that actor from the Harry Potter movies?
Click here to see me shuffle my way through the marathon in this compilation video provided by the marathon organizers. I did a little bit better this year compared to my finish time last year. Read my blog about last year’s race here. My races are peppered with pauses and potty breaks that I will never be one of those runners with fast finish times. That’s okay though. I run to enjoy the scenery and get that medal.
Subscriptions to the 2018 edition is now open on the race website.
We took the metro back to the hotel. We were already checked out but I used the shower room at the fitness center so I can at least be presentable before going to the airport.
The flight out of Barcelona was originally at 6:05 PM but the flight was delayed until 7:30 PM. Good thing we are Priority Pass members with unlimited access to the business lounges so the waiting was not so bad. We were back in Brussels before 10:00 PM.