Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Marrakech Half Marathon, Morocco

Last weekend was big event number one of 2012 - the Marrakech Half Marathon. Susan and I headed off on our flight to Morocco on Friday and arrived that evening. We were whisked away in a taxi to the Medina in Marrakech, and a man came to meet us at the car park and took us to our riad (traditional Moroccon hotel). The narrow streets were full of people walking, on bikes, scooters, the odd car! It was the hustle and bustle I'd imagined. The door to our riad was hidden away in a corner, but as soon as you stepped off the busy street you were in a world of peace and tranquility. After venturing out for dinner of tajine and couscous we headed back for a good night's sleep. The Saturday we headed to the Marathon village to collect our race numbers, and we had an explore around to get our bearings. Really enjoyed visiting the souks, but the amount of hassle you get to buy stuff is something else!! We went to a nice restaurant by our riad for dinner. We wanted to make sure we had something 'safe' and not experiment the night before the race. We had some really tasty salad and chicken/vegetable coucous - just what was needed. The mint tea which is traditionally drank in Morocco was very tasty too.

The next morning the riad staff brought us some hot water to our room and we made our porridge pots. My half was at 8:30am and Susan's marathon at 9am. The temperature in Morocco isn't actually that warm in January, and at that time of the morning still fairly cold! We jogged down to the start and I managed to squeeze myself somewhere near the front of the mass of runners. Fortunately it was a chip number so the timer didn't start till I crossed the line. The first mile was quite chaotic - lots of people everywhere. But then as the miles rolled by the field opened up a bit. There were some long, straight roads which meant I could get into a good rythmn and get some quicker miles in. I felt pretty good and considering my ankle problems in the weeks leading up to the race I was pleased with how I felt. I didn't see many other women around me till about mile 7 or 8 when I spotted a couple in front of me. This spurred me on to pick up the pace a bit and I managed to reel one of them in. It was great running in these new and different surroundings, quite an experience. The last couple of miles were a bit of a struggle as the sun was coming out, but I hung in there to finish 23rd woman (out of 603 apparently!) and in a time of 1hr34:36. Pleased with that as only around 45 seconds slower than my PB. Susan did really well in some hot conditions to finish 30th woman in the marathon in a time of 3hr59.58, so just getting under the 4 hours! Even better I'm up to £500 on my fundraising efforts for Pancreatic Cancer UK, so a massive thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far!
The next day we headed out on a day trip to the Atlas mountains which were fantastic - would love to go back there some day and hike up Mount Toubkal!
Next race is the Portsmouth Half marathon in a couple of weekends time - hoping to go a bit quicker if I can!

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