Grantham Running Club's Gav Meadows & Neil Emerson travelled to Catalonia for the prestigious Barcelona Marathon. The race was the culmination of a lot of hard training for both athletes & they each went into the race with high expectations & confidence that they would run new personal best times. The course is one of the flattest available in Europe & is perfectly suited to running fast times.
35 year old Gav maintained a pace of around 7 minutes per mile for most of the race & despite slowing significantly in the last 2 miles, completed the 26.2mile course in a new PB of 3 hours 7 minutes exactly. This bettered his previous PB by a whopping 16 minutes. He placed 1220th overall in a field of over 16,000 & finished 613th in his age category.
Gav said 'First of all I must say what a fantastic experience it was to be part of this incredible race. Emotions were running high from the moment we lined up at the start in the spectacular setting of Placa d'Espanya overlooked by the imposing Venetian Towers to the front & Palau Nacional to the rear. From the moment we set off the support from the crowd was incredible & although I didn't understand the Catalan phrases being shouted, they still drove me on more than I can put into words. There were also drums & music on just about every part of the course & it was a real buzz to run past sights such as the Sagrada Familia & Nou Camp Stadium.'
'I don't think I could've executed my race plan much better. My pace was very consistent for the vast majority of the race & the last 2 miles is the only part of the course where things went slightly wrong. I tried to increase the pace slightly for the last 3 miles using the speed I've developed from doing weekly parkruns - a strategy that worked very well for me at the recent Stamford 30K. I wasn't quite able to maintain it this time though. However, I was thrilled with my overall performance. My goal was to finish in under 3:15 & I achieved this comfortably.'
56 year old Neil's race was just as impressive. He crossed the line in 4 hours 7 minutes 25 seconds obliterating his previous PB by an incredible 18 minutes. Also when u consider that the first half of his race was 18 minutes faster than the second it's clear that, with further training & some race plan tweaks, Neil is well capable of going under 4 hours. He finished 11,082nd overall & placed 514th in his age category.
Neil said 'A perfect run. A beautiful, clear, sunny day. The course, which takes in most of Barcelona's iconic landmarks, was well supported by local people and bands. In fact I can't remember any part of the course without encouraging cries of "vamos!" and "animar!" ringing in my ears. It is truly an inspiring experience to feel part of.'
'Juggling marathon training with a busy work schedule is challenging. I find weekend "long runs" (17-21 miles) are fundamental to good performance. The routes around the beautiful Vale of Belvoir countryside with fellow GRC members make it (almost) enjoyable.'
Photo: Gavin Meadows