A report by John Dunleavy on the 2016 Barcelona Marathon in his own inevitable style
Barcelona Marathon 2016
I remember the night well when I read Tim’s email regarding Barcelona and a trip away to run the marathon and even though I was sober at the time I decided it would be a good idea to run it and so the adventure began.
Many days and nights of training through the wettest Winter on record culminated in me being about 50% ready on March the 13th to run my fourth marathon.
We traveled to Dublin on the 11th and I was collected by Martin and Derek for the drive to the airport. Martin had cleaned his car out especially for the occasion to the extent that we were able to get one of the carry on bags in the boot and I only had to share the back seat with the other two. Despite his previous warnings Derek managed to keep the nerves at bay for the drive and the dozen or so sick bags that were discretely stashed in the car were not required. We arrived in Dublin without incident and got settled in the departure lounge but only after Derek had been swabbed from head to toe by the security police. A few of the messier members of the group decided to have a few pints to relax themselves for the trip but the serious athletes ( and you know who you are) stayed on the coffee and water.
We arrived in Barcelona on schedule and this was where Tim’s excellent organisational skills came in to play. The bus we had booked was nowhere to be seen!! After walking around the airport and several phone calls later we were met under a statue of a horse by a smiling Spaniard holding a piece of cardboard with “McCarthy” written on it. He led us outside and we loaded up our bags and set off. Then just to take the piss out of him for being late Jacek decided to make him turn around and go back to the airport because he had lost his passport. He waited until we were almost back at departures before announcing “it’s ok guys I found it”. We turned around again and headed into the city centre to the apartment Derek, Martin, Glenn and myself were sharing where Tim’s organisational skills came in to play again, there was no one there to meet us!!.
After another couple of calls the front door was opened by a young lady who seemed a little distressed to see 10 people outside rather than 4. We ventured into the house and nominated Glenn by pushing him forwards to go into the world’s smallest lift with our lady friend and the rest of us would follow after. Once the lift eventually came back down the three of us, and this is where we were very lucky that myself and Martin are possibly a little less that than average in size, managed to squeeze in with our bags for the long trip to the fourth floor. On arrival Glenn had already been relieved of his credit card and instructed on the rules of the house so we settled down and made ourselves at home. We met up a little later for a nice meal washed down with a drink or two to combat the jet lag and then headed for bed. Well at least some of us headed for bed and some decided to check out another few local bars purely for research purposes.
As arranged we met up in the morning to take part in the breakfast run which was to follow the last 4k of the 1992 marathon finishing in the Olympic stadium. We headed off with about 2000 other runners and had a few good laughs along the way all the way to the stadium where Damian was taught a valuable lesson in never assuming you have won when Glenn dipped to beat him at the finish line.
It was also during this run that we discovered Alan’s special way of posing for photographs, drop the hip, swing the shoulder and slide your hand down your thigh then turn your head slightly and smile. From here on known as “the blue steel look”. After another bite to eat and another couple of drinks we headed off to the Nou Camp for the match where Tim’s organisational skills again came to the fore and we realised that on a beautiful sunny day we were sitting in the shaded side of the ground and it was bloody freezing so much so that poor Derek had to go and buy a hoodie to keep warm and Jacek and to keep going to the other side of the ground for a bit of heat from the sun.
Despite the cold it was a good way to pass a few hours and everyone picked up a few souvenirs to take home especially Jacek who showed his haggling skills by beating down some poor sod from €5 to €3 for a selfie stick. We headed back to the square to go for yet another bite to eat and a few muscle relaxers before going back to our apartments to settle down for the night.
Glenn was first to bed at around 8pm, there was a vicious rumour circulating in our apartment that someone had been snoring the night before and had kept him awake so he was hoping to get ahead of the game by going to sleep first.(it didn’t work ).
We were all awake early in the morning and copious amounts of porridge and toast were consumed before we all got kitted out in our best club gear to head down for a club photo before the big event. Once the pictures were done we headed off to our different starting areas except for Jacek who decided to check out the toilet facilities in the nearby hotel before hand. The time finally came around and we set off, I was running with Blue Steel and Tim who had reliably informed me that they were going to be running around the 4 hour mark and would see me home safely, me being easily led and gullible believed them.To be fair this plan was working out up to the 30k mark where Blue Steel sauntered off into the sunset and then at 35k Tim followed suit. I kept him in sight for the next 4k but then my brain won the battle with my body and convinced it to stop running. I walked, jogged and even hopped a little to come home in 4.06 and end what was a very enjoyable day out with a fantastic atmosphere around most of the course. As had been arranged I hobbled to a nearby bar where the best part about running a marathon in a sunny place became evident and we sat outside soaking up the sun while doing our best to drink the man dry of Estrella Damm. Once the sun had left our lovely spot we headed back to our apartments for showers and a change of clothes before venturing out for a nice meal and another drink or two. This became a drink or ten and then the drink began to have its effect ( except on lightweight Damien who had already been back to the apartment for a lie down and was in great spirits) and we decided to head for home. Derek then got a call from Marco Polo O Leary who had managed to get lost between the bar and our apartment. So off he had to go into the night to rescue him from the Guardia Civil.
Eventually we were all tucked up safe and sound and when I awoke in the morning it was to the sound of Martin and Derek scrubbing the floor in the living room just to be sure that we left the place exactly as we found it 😉
There were a lot of sick and sorry puppies on the bus to the airport but it bought to an end what was an amazing weekend.
Congratulations again to everyone who ran PB’s or completed their first marathon or who just enjoyed the experience (39k of it anyway).
How many will travel next year I wonder.