Top Form Athletics runner RUSHDI HENDRICKS recalls he’s Madrid Maratón experience …
“Animo, Animo!” “Vamos!” “Campiones!“
Arriving in Madrid, we were warmly welcomed by our tour guides Faldiel & Jummanah. Most of the locals only spoke Spanish, so having tour guides that could communicate in the native tongue was definitely something that cannot be taken for granted!
We were located in a suburb in Madrid called Atocha Renfe. Quite a pleasant place. To illustrate how safe the neighbourhood is, seeing locals running between 10pm to midnight, is not an unusual sight.
I did not get the opportunity to go inside the race expo as the queue to get in was never ending. Nevertheless, I managed to get my number collected by another member of our touring party.
The morning of race was relaxed as there was adequate time to prepare with the race only starting at 9am – a far cry from the standard 6am or 7am starts here in Cape Town! Although there must have been close to 40,000 people, it was quite well organized- easy to get into your starting pin (called “cagon” in Spanish). Another plus was that our hotel was a mere 5 minute walk to the start- which was quite pleasant!
The race itself is not an easy one. But running through the city of Madrid was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my days. At about 5km into the marathon, you are welcomed by the sight of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Any ardent or even social football fan (like myself), will know that this is the home to a rich history of Real Madrid football greats. Running past the stadium was quite a surreal moment for me – a bit of a goosebump moment, as I finally realized that I was fulfilling a dream of mine – running an international marathon!
“Animo, Animo!” “Vamos!” “Campiones!” Some words that I never knew existed before doing the Madrid Maratón! I must have heard those words of encouragement hundreds of times while covering the 42.2km marathon. These words will linger for a long, long time for me, especially when I do my next marathon.
I found it to be an undulating course, and the rolling hills, especially when going down, was quite abrasive on my quads. It hurt quite a bit towards the end. An innovation that I think our local marathons can learn from, are the rollerbladers that whistle past you and if need be, they spray on “deepfreeze” to help you make it to the finish. It definitely helped me with the cramping.
There were many entertaining live bands along the route. As your energy levels start depleting, I found the various genres of rock n roll music very uplifting! Some of the bands played in English, but listening to some classics redone in Spanish was quite amusing as well as very entertaining!
Going past Casa de Campo and finishing at the scenic Retiro Park was a nice climax to the race. My Madrid Maratón race time was 4:07:14. Although I did not get the time that I aimed for, and by no means is this a “PB” course in my humble opinion, I can definitely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the Madrid Maratón!
In summary, as a young family man, I was very apprehensive about leaving my family behind and also the cost implications involved. But with the convincing and blessing of my wife, I pursued this dream of mine and I can honestly say that this was an experience of a lifetime! One that I would definitely recommend whether you are a novice (like me) or a hardcore endurance junkie!
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