Running Abroad and Limassol Marathon Preview

Back in September last year I threw myself into the deep-end, big style. Not only was I going to do my first marathon, but also my first race abroad. In March 2018 I’ll be making my way out to Cyprus for my second overseas race for the Limassol Marathon weekend where I’ll be taking part in the Half-Marathon.

I will then be going further afield to take part in the Chicago Marathon in October and I am certain that it will not be my last international race.

They do things very different abroad and I am certain each country is different. I had a really enjoyable experience in Berlin, mostly because I planned ahead and was prepared.

A few things I did/didn’t do:

Plan way ahead. This includes buying anything you need with plenty of time for it to arrive before you leave. I ordered gels and nutritional supplements I’d needed two months in advance. Two reasons, one to make sure it arrived, but also if I was using anything new I would have ample time to test it out.

Know what you’re going to do each day. When I travelled to Berlin, I had a plan for what I was going to do each day. This included things like visiting the expo, what time I would have my meals the day before, time to do nothing on the Saturday morning, time for sightseeing and what time I’d aim to be in bed on the Saturday night.

Have a Plan B. It took me longer to make it from the airport to my accommodation than expected and hence I didn’t make it to the expo on the Thursday evening. This meant a quick rearrangement of my plans for Friday and a bit less time for sightseeing.

Don’t plan sightseeing the day after a marathon. It just didn’t happen!

Check the weather. October in Berlin a funny time, as I expect March in Cyprus will be too. The weather could literally be anything and because of this I took clothes for all occasions, hot, cold, somewhere in the middle, rain, snow (ok, I didn’t take snow wear), but you get the idea.

Choose your race. Think about jet lag and how long you have to prepare pre and post-race, the further away from home the worse the jetlag will be.

Get to know the course. The one thing I found really useful in Berlin was knowing the course, at which km marker we would start heading for home etc and knowing that at 30k I was actually heading in the direction of home made a huge difference in my mind.

Miles or Kilometres. This was one thing that put my pacing off slightly in Berlin. I was used to running in Miles, but the markers were in Kilometres, not a huge issue, if anything it was nice that they ticked by quicker but worth noting pre-race.

Do the warm up run.  In Berlin, they do the 6k run from the city centre to the Olympic Stadium and I had a little bit of FOMO missing out on it as I thought it would be best to rest up and not add mileage to the legs. But worth considering if it takes your fancy – I may do the 5k in Chicago.

With this in mind, I’ll be thinking about it ahead of making the trip out to Limassol next March for the 2018 RunLimassol Half Marathon.

I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Limassol for a weekend and to sample to hotels, the amazing restaurants and part of the course.

Flying out from Heathrow on Friday evening with Aegean Airlines (Airline Partner of the Race) with Paul we got settled down for our flight to Athens where we would change to a connecting flight to take us to Cyprus. For two burly blokes (one slightly more so than the other) we were really comfortable and really enjoyed the journey and the food on the way.

We teamed up with the rest of the crew in Limassol (Joe from UKRunChat, Catherine and Leanne from RunMummyRun, Gill (@gillbla) who had been on the same flight as us, Amy Hughes (@53Marathons), Becs and Carole from BreatheUnityPR and the RunLimassol team.) standing in awe of the Four Seasons Hotel wrapped up like a present.

We were whisked off to a fantastic fish restaurant for dinner a short walk along the beach from the hotel and what an introduction to Limassol. The food was amazing and having the breaking waves from the sea made for a perfect location.

Check in complete and it was time to sample the room. Myself, Paul, Joe, Becs and Carole would be staying in the Amathus Beach Hotel, nestled right on the beach alongside the Mediterranean (where UKRunChat packagers will be staying) and sister hotel, the Four Seasons.

The room was so luxurious, the bathroom was huge, the beds were super comfy (and I am very fussy about my bed) and the view…..

I couldn’t wait to whip open the curtains and take it in and it was worth the wait.

Breakfast was served in the hotel and it was an endless selection – we were quite reserved with it being the first day.

We made our way to Linos Winery to sample some of the local, well wine! Even though it was 11.30 we tasted all the wine while there were lots of umm’ing and ahh’ing and nodding heads in appreciation of the really fine wine on offer.

We kept going through the mountains until we arrived at the village of Omodos, I’d been here before with my family and it holds a special place in my heart. We had a wonderful welcome and then proceeded to make some bread buns (haha thank you autocorrect there).

We had a lot of fun making our buns and couldn’t wait to see how our creations turned out.

Next was lunch at a local restaurant, but the entertainment was something else. We laughed, we danced, we placed glass tumblers on a guys head while he danced around the restaurant and then led a Greek conga out of the restaurant and onto the streets.

We’d all had our fill of food and the bus journey back to Limassol was pretty quiet – mostly because Paul had fallen asleep.

On the way back we went to visit the St Raphael’s hotel (where RMR will be staying) and took in the views of the beautiful coastline.

That evening we went to another restaurant in the newly built Limassol Marina & were again joined by the RunLimassol team along with Mr Spyrou, the GM of OPAP Limassol Marathon GSO who was a delight to speak to and his endeavour to make the race weekend as good as it can be is really inspiring.

He told us all about how the race has increased in size and that he has been to visit other races (including the London Marathon) and bring ideas back to Limassol.

We followed dinner with a few quiet drinks in a local bar and were all tucked up in bed in a reasonable hour (depending on which time zone you counted).

Why Paul’s blog says 4am I have no idea, must be a typo🤭 https://pickupthepacepaul.com/2017/12/02/limassol-marathon-2018-famtrip/

I skipped Breakfast, completely on purpose and nothing to do with the previous night’s activities before we all joined together to head down to Molos Promenade for a 5k run.

We donned our RunLimassol t-shirts we would run the 5k City Run route which is on the Saturday before the Half-Marathon and Full. I stuck with Gill, or rather Gill slowed down and stuck with me and we chatted our way out to the turn point while admiring the beautiful seafront.

Feeling slightly more human we had a little tour around the old town which I am really looking exploring more when I go back in March.

Andreas told us all about the race, where it starts and where the route goes. It sounds like a lovely route out and back along the main road which goes along the seafront for both the Half and Full.

We had a tour of what will be the event village & they have it really well laid out with plenty of room & I love they’re leaving the pier open for people to wander around & take selfies with the views.

We said goodbye to RMR (Catherine and Leanne), Amy and Joe as they headed back to the UK and we had some spare time to explore the hotel(s) and their facilities. I was going to have a dip in the outdoor pool but I was a bit nippy to say the least so I went to get my feet wet in the sea and joined Paul for a spot of sunbathing before heading over to the Four Seasons and joining Gill for a milkshake and then us both falling asleep  – we were great company…..(sorry Gill).

We hatched a plan, Paul and I in the morning, our last day = swim in the sea 7am sharp. 6.45, I stood on the balcony thinking, it’s a tad chilly and sent Paul a message (resisting the urge to climb over the balcony and knock on), we both agreed we weren’t up for a swim so I went for a run instead.

I took off along the beach, not knowing exactly how far I’d go, I just needed to get back shower, pack up my things and head down for breakfast.
It was so beautiful, I couldn’t resist taking a million photos and videos, including a few fancy ones of me running in front of the sun.

I tried to get a few fancy pics, one particularly being me, back to camera, sunrise in front, aka new profile picture material…..only someone decided to spoil it – instead of a new profile picture, I got a pic of a cats bum, to the amusement of everyone at breakfast and on Instagram.

After breakfast went out on a tour with the RunLimassol team before heading to Kourion. The marina is so different to how I remember it. Some will be pleased to know there are some big familiar food chains there and some shops that you’d recognise.

The rest of the morning was spent at Kourion, an ancient city and amphitheatre just on the outskirts of Limassol. It’s an impressive place, situated 100 metres above the coastline of Episkopi and well worth a visit.

We went and saw the main sights ( you really could spend all day here), seeing the House of Achilles – he wasn’t in or I’d have had a strong worth with that guy. We toured some of the amazing mosaics, the baths, the stone columns, the market square and finally the amphitheatre.

It’s quite a place to behold and the view from the top down to the stage and our onto the Mediterranean is something else. We were then invited to stand on a certain spot on the stage and speak…hmmm ok. You don’t get the full effect from the video but you can hear the reverberations and it sounds completely weird (hence I say some half-arsed sentence that doesn’t quite make sense).

We said goodbye to the RunLimassol team who were so hospitable (as was everyone in Cyprus) and to Carole and Becs and Paul, Gill and I made our way back to Larnaca airport.

And that was it, a whirlwind tour of Limassol. I am ridiculously excited for the race next March and spending the weekend in the city again. I’d been to Limassol previously but they’ve made such a huge step forward in updating the city, it’s clean and safe, there is no a cycle highway down the main road from the hotel all the way into the Marina – I wish I had some extra time to give this a go.

If your already booked to come to Limassol next year, you are in for such a treat!! The food is amazing (come hungry), the people are delightful, they’re so helpful and that includes the RunLimassol team too.

We couldn’t tour the Mediterranean or St Raphael’s Hotels as they were being updated – if they’re anywhere near the standard of the Amathus or Four Seasons you will not be disappointed.

To find out more about the marathon weekend, check out http://www.limassolmarathon.com

Where we ate
Puesta Grill (seafront near hotel)

Katoi Restaurant (Omodos)

Pyxida Fish Tavern (Saturday Dinner) – http://www.pyxidafishtavern.com

Dionysus Mansion – https://m.facebook.com/dionysusmansion/?locale2=en_GB

Other Attractions<

inos Winery – http://www.ktimagerolemo.com

Omodos Village – http://omodosvillage.com