We were back in Spain again the following weekend after the Murcia Marathon. The Maratón Vías Verdes 2018 was held in Arganda del Rey, one of the cities surrounding the country’s capital, Madrid.
We flew out of Brussels Zaventem Airport on board the 20:55 PM Brussels Airlines flight to Madrid on Friday, February 2, 2018. I decided on a rental car since we can get to Arganda del Rey in about 20 minutes. Otherwise, it will take us an hour and a half by train. We arrived at our hotel well before midnight.
Bib pick-up was at our hotel the next day but did not start until 18:00 to 20:00. We had the whole day to ourselves so we decided to investigate my family’s connection to a namesake town 30 minutes away.
The town of Mondéjar is known for its wines and vineyard tours. I wanted to know more about its people’s history. It was an easy drive to the town’s center.
It was a Saturday and the city hall was closed. We parked the car at the city hall and walked around a little bit.
Richard drove us around the town.
There are no Mondejar memorabilia to buy but they had the town’s history book available for purchase. Now I have to get it translated from Spanish.
We picked up my bib as soon as the race table opened. Pre-registration for this event was the US$60 equivalent in euros with no freebies.
Richard drove me early the next morning to the local sports stadium Ciudad Deportive Prince Felipe to catch the 7:30 AM bus to the start line in Carabaña.
The race started at 9:00 AM with a time limit of five and a half hours. Uhmm. . . this was probably a marathon for hardcore runners. I just realized that when I saw there were probably less than a hundred of us at the start line.
I was right. The other runners took off immediately. I started with my usual pace. The weather was terrible! It was raining when we started which was okay, but it got worse later on. We started at the the top, running on the red walking path that hugged and wrapped around a mountain. It would have been beautiful on a sunny day. Parts of the race path was the road to Santiago de Compostela. Also called the Camino de Santiago, the legendary pilgrimage route spans about 700 kilometers from various starting points in Europe and all ending at Santiago de Compostela. Catholic pilgrims can do the whole or part of the route in several days and will receive a plenary indulgence at the end. Hmmm. . . a good idea for the bucket list.
I did not take photos along the way. We had cold rain, wind, and snow from the halfway point until the end of the race. I was very under dressed. I only wore my merino wool base layer, a thin vest, and a plastic cover; I had to ask for an additional garbage bag to wear at one of the aid stations because it got too cold. My hands were frozen two thirds of the time and I was not about to try and take out my iPhone to take some photos in my state.
I was grateful for the volunteers at the aid stations who waited for everyone to pass by. The aid stations had water and energy drinks, bananas, oranges, crackers, and mixed nuts. I could tell they were as cold as I was, yet they patiently supported us. I thought about quitting but I decided to brave it at the halfway point and run one kilometer at a time.
I staggered to the finish line at Ciudad Deportive Prince Felipe in 5:36. I was past the time limit but the organizers still kept the race open since there were a few more people behind me. The weather made it even slower for slow runners like me.
I took a very long hot shower at the hotel before we checked out and transferred to TRYP Alameda Hotel, a hotel close to the airport. We were up early at 4:30 AM to catch the hotel shuttle to Madrid airport for our Ryanair flight back to Brussels.