San Sebastian Marathon, Spain

Time of year: November

Value for money: 4

Location: 5

Crowd support: 4

Organisation: 5

PB potential: 4

Course: Flat, 2 laps

Competitors: Approx 2000

Locality: San Sebastian is a small, beautiful city which has it all. The sea on one side and the mountains on the other. It’s a paradise for runners, cyclists and triathletes. In the summer there are a lot of local Olympic and sprint distance triathlons, and in the winter there are running races from 10km to marathon distance. After the race, a great idea is to hit the bars and try the local specialities called ‘pintxos’, the Basque traditional tapas or a ‘Sidreria’, a cider house serving huge portions of food and unlimited cider from the barrel.

Getting there: The best way to get to San Sebastian if you’re travelling from outside Spain is to fly to Bilbao and then take a bus or train.


My experience: This race was my first marathon, which I signed up for on the spur of the moment while training for Behobia-San Sebastian. The day was very cold, just 2 degrees when we started, and I was not prepared for the demands a marathon would place on my body. At the time I was running 80km per week and thought I would be ok so I just did one very slow 3h run to help me decide whether to race it or not. I had not thought about food or a hydration strategy and thought that it would be just like running a long half marathon. How wrong I was! I felt completely ruined when I finished (in 3h15) and had taken only two energy gels and drank mainly water on the course. I hit the wall after about 34km, at just about the time I passed my house and considered stopping there but knew my family were waiting at the end so I pressed on.

I felt very emotional after the race, and my body felt terrible for about 3 weeks afterwards. I would advise anyone considering a marathon to think seriously about their strategy for fluid and calorie intake before attempting one.

Other than my bad experience here, all of the positives of the city are there for relaxation afterwards.

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