Double Trouble. Our Lanzarote & Malaga Marathon Double, Dec 2019
By Paul Monaghan
If you fancy a spot of running in December and maybe a marathon or two then you could do a lot worse than Lanzarote & Malaga, Spain.
Lanzarote is a Canary island of volcanic origin and tends to have a hot climate in December. If you like winter sun then it’s ideal. The marathon itself starts from Sands Beach hotel in Costa Tequise.
Malaga is located on the Southern tip of Spain and is primarily used as a gateway for travelling the Costas. However I’ve always found Malaga itself a vast improvement to Torremolinos, Marbella etc. as it has a more authentic Spanish feel. It has to be one of the most underrated Spanish cities.
Caroline Jackson & I ( #Teamjackmon ) were a bit worse for wear as only just completed the Cypriot Larnaca Marathon and the Spanish Basque country’s San Sabastian marathon. These two would make it four foreign marathons in five weeks. Fitness wise we’re both off form lately but the pull of a December in the sun with pals was just too much to resist. So we booked the flights & hotels months in advance cutting costs considerably.
The plan for Caroline & I was to stay at Gatwick hotel Thur eve and fly out to Lanzarote on the Fri (6th Dec) We’d then stay in Lanzarote until the Wed were we’d fly to Seville spend a night there and then catch a bus to Lanzarote on the Thur afternoon.
After landing a Lanzarote the four of us made our way to the Nazaret apartments hotel in Costa Tequise. It’s an amazing complex were most of the 100 marathon club runners descend on every December, which gives the whole holiday a buzz. Brian Kirsopp had also arrived who was giving it a go for the third time.
The marathon is an out & back from Costa Teguise to Puerto del Carmen. A half marathon & 10K also start from Puerto del Carmen, in fact many Reading Roadrunners over the years have joined us there running various races. I can’t recommend it enough if you want to incorporate a winter holiday.
This was a hot one with temperatures reaching 26 during the race. During the back section there were many people walking. Saying that though it’s an enjoyable scenic run passing palm trees as some stunning scenery. Even a point running in front of the airport landing strip were planes appear to be coming in about 100 metres overhead. We did struggle a lot on this though support from the locals kept us going when all senses said to quit. Caroline had a podium age cat prize a few years ago but like myself was a bit too worn out to be in contention.
We all ran a 4 hour+ but Brian had managed to pull a sub 3:30 out of the bag despite the heat. Respect to him.
This was our third in four weeks so it was a relief to finish and tuck into all the post race snacks etc. Of all the marathons we’ve completed this has more than any other for the runners post race. Food, drinks & even ice creams are in abundance. We celebrated Bushy’s 1000th ( Yes 1000th) marathon there last year as it was just the ideal place to have it.
After the race 100s of runners descend into the local square for some much needed celebrations. The four of us ended up in a Karaoke bar until about 3:30am. We had to walk Pete Morris to his room as he didn’t know what day it was. Luckily for us he did not get up on stage.
Caroline & I stayed to the Wednesday to visit much of what the island had to offer, we even threw in a visit to the local Volcanos at Timanfaya Park.
If anyone has visited Seville or ran a race there you’ll be aware of just how stunning this place is. We ran the Marathon there in 2016 and will indeed be repeating it again in Feb 2020 just 10 weeks away.
Everywhere you look in the city there are orange trees lining the streets. Around the Cathedral area there’s a mixture of small friends tapas bars, some of which look like they’ve not been touched in 100s of years.
Pete and Bushy and most of the crew had now left to go home but we decided we’d get a flight straight over to Spain incorporating Seville before a 2.5 hour bus ride to Malaga.
Cutting a long story short, we found out the airport was closed mid-flight so we ended up at Malaga hence finding ourselves in the position of now needing a bus from Malaga to Seville, returning to Malaga again the next day.
We really enjoyed it here and even caught the excellent Xmas lights switch on as well as visiting one of the oldest Tapas bar in Spain. Our time was short so the next day it was off to Malaga.
After landing we caught the local bus from the airport to town. Our destination was the Las Vegas hotel which is right on the sea front. We had a few days before the marathon so it gave us time to indulge a little more rather than our usual arrival the day before.
I’ve always said Malaga is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. With a backdrop of a stunning cathedral and relatively quiet beaches it’s ideal for anyone wanting a authentic Spanish experience avoiding the tourist hotspots. There’s even a Picasso museum thrown in to boot.
On the Saturday we took part in the pre-marathon breakfast run. A tourist bus was laid on from the city that took us to the Estadio Ciudad de Málaga stadium were the run would kick off.
This was great fun especially as Caroline & I were decked out in Xmas gear. Really was a fun run but the nice weather and the stadium made this a great experience even if the route was a little dull.
Our partner in crime Martin Bush flew in not long after we finished ready for the Marathon the next day.
Marathon morning eventually arrived. In 2016 the rain was so bad that they called the Marathon off an hour before the start. Our fingers were firmly crossed in anticipation for this one. As it goes we kicked this off on a nice day. It’s dark when you arrive at baggage but by the time the marathon starts the sun is just rising making this ideal.
We popped into a café en route were these poor staff were trying to serve coffees to about 200 runners in 30 mins. Was chaos but a spectacle to watch.
Caroline with a combination of nerves and too much food the night before suddenly had a fit of the runs and quickly dived in front of the 50+ strong loo queue to save the day and her dignity. The only gripe I have about this marathon is the lack of toilets.
Start was so conjected but soon opened out as roads and coastal paths are so wide. By this time I was exhausted beyond belief and was doubting I could run half way yet a lone a marathon. Seven days out of the UK combined with eating out and late nights, not to mention three marathons in four weeks had taken their toll. Caroline was feeling pretty much the same though Bushy is a machine to business as usual for him. Another RR Paloma would also be running as well as some other pals. I decided my best tactic was to go for a fast first half and back off after 13 miles. The trick seemed to work and get me round, though my time was nothing to write home about.
It’s not a bad course but they had re-routed from previous years which meant not taking in as much coastal roads. It also seemed to add a few hills. Some people may prefer this but in the heat it can get too much. Needless to say I’d still highly recommend this Marathon in December for the city and beaches alone.
Caroline’s was about 20 mins ahead of me but Paloma had managed to pull off a PB beating us both and was ecstatic. Another friend of ours Julia whom we first met in Tallinn also managed a PB.
One of the best things about Malaga is the beach bars to follow. Tons of us met up for a well-deserved beer in the sun after the race. Bushy even managed some post-race magnet shopping.
As expected many of us got together and visited the tapas bars etc in e evening. One thing that is worth mentioning is the excellent roof top bar at the Marriot hotel. It gives a spectacular view of the city and for that it’s worth it alone.
Paloma’s parents live in Spain meaning she knows Malaga like the back of her hand. She treated all of us to drinks in the spectacular Bodega El Pimpi Spanish tapas bar which is just mind blowing. Bushy proclaimed it as the best bar he’s ever visited which coming from him just says it all.
Monday it was back to the UK. And dare I say it I think we were both glad to get back to the UK for a rest even if it was raining on our arrival. Now time for Xmas shopping, though a marathon in baking heat is easy by comparison.