At least 12 months ago, before other marathons had been finalised, I had started looking for a possible L marathon in late April or May. Of the four that immediately appeared possible I dismissed London as I might need an English one later in the campaign, and unlike many runners I didn’t really want to run it even though I could have a gfa entry. Liechenstein would likely be too hilly so the sensible option would be Luxembourg. I jokingly commented that Lima, the other option, would be great to run but surely I couldn’t justify the cost that it would certainly entail. As other marathons were completed and discussions took place, the idea of visiting South America, and adding a continent I hadn’t visited before to my list became compelling. And it seemed sensible to make a proper holiday of it (well just a long weekend was never going to be on) so Quito was added to the itinerary.
Wandering around the open air expo on the Saturday morning, trying to stay in the shade, provided an indication of what could be expected the next day. I have become used to being one the few, or even only, Brit(s) in the race and unsurprisingly this was again the case (but since coming home I spotted on Strava someone else who had run it). One of the pastimes at expos is spotting race tops, and being envious of the people that have taken part in more unusual marathons. The prize here went to The Asunción Marathon in Paraguay; unsurprisingly no one has any idea what my Kharkiv one was although a very well dressed American on a metrobus, who could have been out of a Graham Green book, did ask if it was Russian; there is very little difference in the language between it and Ukrainian.
The race had a sensibly early 07.00 start, so we were on the first metrobus from our apartment and arrived much too early. It did allow us to watch the elite Kenyans being ushered into the VIP area (their men did fill the first three places), and get first use of the portaloos. As is quite common in overseas city marathons that don’t attract 10,000s of runners there was also a half which started at the same time on the adjacent portion of a duel carriageway. As I had walked down the wrong side of the road the only way into the start was back to the intersection at the metro-stop and by the time I had realised this it was close to start time so I couldn’t get to the pacers who all started near the front. But at least their large balloons made it easy to use a sensible pace to catch them; but anyone wanting the 4.30 would have had problems as it sailed up into the clear blue sky before the race started.
I was still winding my way forward when the race started without any noticeable loud announcement, I only realised when everyone started shuffling forward. The course was very runner friendly without any hills or noticeable gradients or so I thought ; since coming home and uploading the race onto Strava I have seen the elevation gain was only slightly less than Istanbul and half that of Jerusalem, it was just gradual and so not at all obvious
Lima is on the coast, a feature that many people I had spoken to before leaving were surprised by, so no altitude problems There were plenty of water/Powerade stations, they started 5k apart and this became every 2.5k over the final third of the race. Of course the major difficulty for everyone was the temperature which was in the mid to high 20s C for the whole race, hence the plentiful supply of water meant I could frequently wash the sweat down into my eyes. Although I had no problem maintaining my usual pace and staying with the 3.45 balloon for the first half my legs were telling me it wouldn’t continue and I ended finding it as difficult as any race I had done, comparable to Edinburgh almost exactly 12 months before, in a disappointing 4:18:12. Although I initially credited the heat with the blame (I did chat to a couple of Europeans, who lived in Lima, during the last 10k who said this and one who was living in Rio and had run the Rio Marathon when it was 35 degrees) but with hindsight I think two other factors that I have never raced with before were the real problem, jet-lag and sleep deprivation. Lima is 6 hours behind London and I flew over on the Thursday. Waking just after 4.00am on Friday and Saturday was a testament to this. On the day of the flight over we were awake for 24 hours, almost all in daylight. Although all of my marathons have been overseas none have involved such extreme changes. I had not considered, or even thought of, the effects that these two time related factors would have and must do some research when I have time.
However when I compare my performance to all competitors I shouldn’t beat myself up too much. I finished 682/1800 of all runners and was 4/18 in my age category.
After getting my first hexagonal medal in Kharkiv 5 weeks ago this was another, not usually it has the course inscribed on it. When registering on line I don’t think I noticed the options, so when I collected the sleeveless technical top I had selected I was pleasantly surprised, it should be useful for a month or two in the UK and many more for overseas runs. However I am always disappointed when the sponsors take up more space on it than the name of the race itself, they fill the whole back of the top while “2015 Lima42k” covers just a fraction of the space on the front top right.
I do think Lima is missing a valuable tourism opportunity with the only sign of Paddington being in the gift shop at the airport where the bears readily fell off the display stand whenever anyone stared too hard at them, never mind trying to remove one to buy it. I did see one visitor take 4 to the check-out.
Although there were local beers, the drink of choice for most of our stay was pisco sour, and with happy hour lasting most of the evening and the drinks not being half strength during that time, unlike for many cocktails in the UK, it would be wrong not to take to opportunity to down a few. No trip to Peru would be complete without Ceviche at least once, and our favourite fruit, custard apple (cherimoya) were huge and so cheap. There was a local delicacy available in Quito where we visited afterwards, but I had better not mention it or say whether it end up on either of our plates.