Valencia Marathon Review & Race Report

Valencia Marathon Review & Race Report 2023 – What You Should Know

This past Sunday I took part in my fourth international marathon in Valencia, Spain. I love reading about a race before heading there so I thought documenting the build-up to Valencia and sharing my thoughts on the marathon would be worthwhile.

After all, this is one of the fastest marathons in Europe and maybe even the world. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad of the Valencia Marathon.

Valencia Marathon Race Report

In April I completed the Paris marathon with a personal best of 3:28. That training block had gone extremely well and I wanted to continue pushing my limits throughout the rest of the year.

That’s when I started eyeing up Valencia. I thought I could potentially push for a sub 3 if I was willing to put the work in.

That started off well. A week after Paris, I got back on the grind and started to push upwards of 55 mile per week very consistently. My pace was improving and I was injury-free.

This base building block went from April to August when I started a 16-week sub 3 training plan. The plan I took on was definitely pushing my limits. 3/6 runs per week focused on speed which personally I wouldn’t do again.

While things were improving greatly, something went wrong with my knee about 6 weeks in. This left me out of action for roughly 10 days with no sign of the injury healing.

I was able to run on the knee but 6 sessions a week was too much and was causing the knee to flare up. After a discussion with my physio I decided on dropping the sub 3 goal about 8-9 weeks out.

Pre-valencia Mileage

We decided I would continue training and just try to finish the race with a PB while running 2 times a week.

These 2 sessions consisted of a long run and a speed session. Occasionally I would get in a slow 3-5 miler if my knee felt up to it.

Even though my mileage was drastically decreased I actually started running some of my best runs ever during this period. I clocked a PB 10k of 39:33 on a cold Friday night on my own and I hit a 20 miler with an average pace of 7:26/mile.

That final 20 miler gave me a lot of confidence that I could hit the 3:15 mark in Valencia. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Race Splits

On that day I wasn’t feeling my greatest. Long story short, on a Friday night we arrived in Valencia and were unable to get into our apartment. This led to zero sleep on Friday night. I managed to get about 4 hours on Saturday morning when we eventually got into the apartment.

On race morning, let’s just say there was no toilet roll in the portaloos which left me very worried for the race, luckily I made it through without disaster.

Even though I had a disastrous pre-race couple of days, the race went amazingly.

I started out at around 3:15 pace and around 4-5 mile in felt like I could pick up the pace a bit. Honestly, I was trying to bank some time for a toilet stop and still hoping to make it in under 3:15.

Luckily I didn’t need that stop and things were going smoothly. About halfway I started to think I could hit sub 3:10.

Valencia Marathon Splits

By my watch, I was on target and most mile splits I was hitting were 4-5 seconds under what I needed to. However, my watch GPS must have been off slightly, perhaps from all of the doing and weaving I was doing at the start to get through the pack.

By Strava I got the 3:09 but by the official clocking I came in at 3:11:55.

With that said, this was an amazing race. I’m extremely happy with how the race played out and my knee held up the whole way through the race.

A 3:11 is a significant step towards my goal of sub 3 which I’m now going to attempt in May in Belfast. This is a hillier course but hopefully another training block can push me significantly under sub 3.

Now, let’s take a look at the Valencia Marathon itself.

Pre Race Info

The Route

The Valencia marathon route is one of the fastest in Europe only rivaled by Berlin. The course has zero significant hills to talk about.

Valencia Marathon Route

The route goes past some of the major landmarks in Valencia starting at finishing at the beautiful location of the City of Arts and Sciences. This was definitely one of the most amazing finish-line experiences I have had.

Hitting the blue carpet with about 500m to go and having the scenic water area to the right and left of the track is something else.

Is Valencia Marathon Flat?

Yes, the Valencia marathon is extremely flat with only 76m of total elevation gain. This makes it one of the fastest courses in Europe and one of the best places to hit a marathon PR.

Does Valencia Marathon Have Cobblestones?

There are essentially no cobblestones on the Valencia route unlike Paris, Rome and Barcelona which all had a significant chunk of cobblestone on the route.

How To Sign Up For Valencia Marathon

You can sign up for the Valencia Marathon here. The earlier you sign up the cheaper the entry fee will be. Depending on when you sign up it will cost you between 80 and 190 euros.

This marathon usually sells out a few months before it takes place. It’s the last large marathon of the season with lots of elites and high-calibre runners taking part.

Pack Collection At Valencia Marathon

My time at the expo center in Valencia was short-lived as I had zero sleep the night before. I walked through it like a zombie grabbing everything I needed ASAP so I could get back to my apartment and into bed.

It has everything that all other expos have, running gear, t-shirt and bi pick up, gels, watches, other booths and a wall where you can find your name on it.

We went about 10 minutes after it opened and there were basically no queues for anything. I imagine it got a lot busier towards the middle of the day.

Race Morning

Our apartment was around a 25 minute drive to the start line. We had booked a taxi on free now the night before for 7:30 (my race started at 8:45) and the free now ended up not coming. We ended up having to book an Uber X and arrived at the start line about 8:15.

Honestly, I would aim to be there much earlier than this. We thought the start line was accessible from the locker area but it turned out it was actually about a 10 minute walk away. This caused me to be late to me box. I barely made it without about a minute to spare before the race kicked off.

That’s probably on me for not reading the instructions correctly but I would give yourself slightly more time than you might think you need.

There was a quick bit of singing and dancing at the start line getting everyone hyped for the race and then we set off to take on the Valencia course/

During The Race

Valencia Marathon

The start of the race was fairly packed. I was in the 3:12 -3:20 box and started close to the back as I was late to the box.

Most of my first three mile was spent up and down footpaths trying to get past the crowds. If I had of started at the front of my box I think this would have been a very different situation. Again, my fault for not being on time.

This race has a very strong field so there are lots of runners even in the faster boxes. With a 3:11 I only finished around 7,000th place.

Once I got through that pack the race really started to open up a bit and had plenty of room to move at your own pace.

Crowds on the course were great and there were lots of bands and other entertainment to give you a boost on the way round.

Honestly, I can’t say that I saw many sights on my run but that could just have been because I was focused on running and hitting my paces.

The final 1km of the race was amazing. Between the crowds and the iconic blue carpet finish, it felt great. I was making a mental note in my head to soak all of this in.

The only thing I would say to be wary of is the ramp coming down to the finish line. My girlfriend who was spectating in this area said she saw a lot of people fall. After all, it is the biggest hill on the course. Not a great spot for it where people’s legs are beaten.

Valencia Marathon Race Nutrition

Race Nutrition on the course is great. There are aid stations with water and Aquarius (Sports Drink) about every 5k.

There are also 2 stations throughout the race handing out gels (both caffeine and non-caffeine) clearly labeled on the volunteer’s bib.

In the second half of the race, there are tables with extra foods like bananas if you want something solid to eat. Honestly, I was focusing on getting my gels down this race so I didn’t take in all of the stuff they had on the tables.

Post Race

Post-race can be quite hard to find people when you leave. The finish line and the actual runner’s exit are quite far apart. I had no phone so couldn’t contact my partner. I ended up having to borrow someone’s phone to find out where they were.

Once you cross the line you walk about 500m to the exit. On the way, you pick up your medal and race goodie bag full of food. For some reason, one of those foods was 3 giant tomatoes. I didn’t touch them but did manage to get down a full bottle of water, Aquarius and two protein bars.

There are plenty of toilets and attendants at the end of the race if you need medical help.

What Can Spectators Expect At Valencia Marathon

The crowds on the course are great, especially after the halfway mark. There are lots of great spots for spectators to stand throughout the course, especially at the end.

I spent a bit of time waiting for my friend to come in at the 500m from the finish mark and the crowd was electric, encouraging everyone to push hard to the finish.

There are quite a few parts of the course that go out and back which means spectators can see someone twice without having to move.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you have enjoyed this guide/review of the Valencia Marathon. I thoroughly enjoyed the race itself and can definitely see myself coming back here next year if I’m trying to hit a significant PB. The course really is that fast. If you have any questions, please drop them below and I will get back to them when I can.

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