Limassol Marathon Weekend

The OPAP Limassol Marathon GSO along with Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, Corporate 5k and Kids Mile run was one of my most anticipated weekends of the year.

I was lucky enough to travel out to Limassol in November and sample the city, the culture, the hotels and most importantly the food.

So having had such a fantastic time in November I couldn’t wait to go back again for the race weekend along with thousands of other foreign runners.

I flew out on Thursday with Aegean Airlines, joined by Leanne and Catherine from RunMummyRun and Jessica from Athletics Weekly.

We were greeted at the airport by Christina from the Limassol Marathon team and whisked off to our hotel , the Amathus Limassol, I’d stayed at the Amathus previously, so I knew how good it was.

Friday was a day to relax and chill while we waited for all the others to arrive. Jess and I caught the bus (something I’ve never done in Cyprus before) down to the Marina area to have a look around, take some pictures and grab a coffee with the guys from Breathe Unity and RMR.

The PrimeTel Corporate 5k

Saturday was the 5k Corporate Race and with 10,000 people registered I knew it was going to be busy. We met with the UKRunChat team to take the public bus down to the start area. Only the bus was a good 20minute wait and dropped us off way outside of the starting area due to the roads being closed and we had a good mile walk to the event village.

I stopped off at some loos along the way as I was suffering with some stomach issues (without going into more detail) and made it to the event village about 10mins before the race was due to start.

I took a bag with me, but couldn’t find the bag drop anywhere. I spotted people putting bags into blue bin-bags and then putting them onto a truck and assumed that was the bag drop and as untechnical as it was, that was it.

I managed to get into one of the pens, no idea whether it was front, middle or back but I was in. It took us an age to get over the start line but once we did, we then stopped again as there was a backlog of people around the corners.

Once on the main road I got running and joined by Faisal we made our way through the crowds. My knee was aching by mile 1 so I decided to take it easy, run when I could, walk when I had to. To be honest it was such a crowded race and people walking 10 across it was impossible to run the whole way without barging people out of the way.

The finish was about half a mile further down the promenade than the start and made for a really pretty finish – although any chance of a sprint finish was non-existent as it was so crowded.

Medal in hand and time to take a few sunny pics with the medal.

I started looking for the baggage van, the instructions said it would be driven to the event village for pick up. I asked in the information booth and she had no idea where it was either. I figured it would be in the one of the car parks, so off I went to walk the half mile to the start line to pick up my bag, then another half mile back to the event village. I joined team RunMummyRun for a coffee and then made my way back to the hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon with the guys around the pool before Amy and I went to check out the event village and the New Marina for dinner.

Limassol Marathon – Petrolina 10k.

I’d decided that after the 5k my knee was simply too sore and fragile to do the Half Marathon, being so close to London Marathon I also didn’t want to risk an injury.

I’d changed down to the 10k and my only intention was to get round and finish and take two medals home.

We were picked up at the hotel and this time the bus dropped us off pretty much on the start line. The crew mulled around for a bit trying to buck up the courage to use one of the portaloos which were not in the best state after also having been used for the 10,000 strong 5k the day before.

I saw the marathon and half get underway and found my way to the 10k entry point.

The start was much smoother and we were into our running straight away.

The first kilometre along the Molos Promenade was lovely, the sun was shining and it wasn’t too windy or blisteringly hot at that stage and pretty decent running conditions to start. I concentrated on not setting out too quick and moving nicely. Catherine from RMR was out cheering as we turned onto the main round for the next 4km out before we’d turn and come back the same way on the opposite side of the road..

I was trying to keep two of the RMR ladies just in front of me in check. They turned out to be doing Run/Walk so ended up spending the whole race going back and forth with each other, saying hello and passing compliments each time we passed by.

My K-Tape was flapping around so that got ripped off and my knee wasn’t perfect but ok enough to carry on. I planned to run to the 5k mark and see how I felt.

Before I got there I saw the first lady in the half marathon come flying on the opposite side and so I knew Gemma wouldn’t be far off. It took my mind off my running as I was just looking for Gemma to give her a cheer.

I reached the 5k point and I was in good time, but I had a decision to make: do I go with run/walk and try to PB as it was in shot or try to run all the way – something I’ve never managed before. I figured that if I did run/walk and my knee started to hurt I’d end up with neither, at least with slowing down trying to attempt to run all the rest of the way I’d have a better chance of my knee holding up.

I saw Gemma not long after the turn and I couldn’t respond to her shout of “well done Carl” as before I took a breath she’d disappeared into the distance.

There were no mile/km markers on the way out so I was relieved to see the km markers for the marathon and I used them to run one kilometre at a time

Before long I could see the 40k sign and I told myself I could run 1.2miles and if I made it 1k to the promenade turn there was no way I was going to stop with the finish in sight.

I turned onto the promenade and it seemed like one heck of a long way to the finish, it was one of those where it just doesn’t get any closer and I didn’t want to run harder, well I don’t think I could have even if I’d wanted to. I stuck a tune on (Bit of Top Gun obvs) and planned when I was going to make my sprint for the line.

I managed to pick my feet up a bit and urged the crowd to get involved as I crossed the line.

I crossed the line arms open wide and I’d run my first 10k. People can get confused when you say that, especially having done 21 10k’s so far. I came close at the Winter Run, but given my 5k time I knew I was in shot of a big PB so concentrated on that and run/walked the rest – clearly it worked.

The time was nowhere near my PB, but I never imagined it would be and it didn’t need to be – I PB’d in a different way this time.

I collected my medal, same as the 5k medal with a different ribbon, I had my knees sprayed (looked more like fertilizer) but it certainly worked and my knees were freezing for hours afterwards. I skipped the massage and I saw a beer stand, but thought it was too small to be the place you collected your beer so kept moving – it turns out it was.

I spent some time chilling on the pier and around the event village, the bag drop was close by this time and it was a really nice area to have a sit and chill and see some of the other runners coming home.

One issue we did find was that no-one could leave, great for the businesses and restaurants nearby but not if you wanted to head back to the hotel to freshen up. The roads would be closed until 1.30 to allow the marathon runners to finish. Due to the nature of the course, I couldn’t actually think of a way of getting around this, but it was actually quite nice to sit out in the sun and relax post-race for a while.

We hung for a few hours around the Marina then made our way back to the hotel via Pete’s car for more relaxing and carb-loading (read: beers) by the pool.

That evening we all headed back into town for the after-party in the main square which was rocking. It was a brilliant atmosphere with runners and locals alike. In your race pack you had a beer token (who doesn’t love a beer token) that could be exchanged at the party, although I seemed to gain one or two more thanks to one of the event team. Dinner was at a gorgeous little Cypriot restaurant which we all loved and I’ll definitely be remembering for next time.

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Monday I was (supposed to be) flying home but I was peer-pressured into staying, I know poor me (they didn’t have to try that hard tbh). So we spent another day by the pool (so worth it) and then out to celebrate Pete’s birthday at a restaurant we visited when I was out in November. After that we had a quiet night and went to bed nice and early and in no way did the waitress in the hotel bar come over and plead with us to sign the bill so she could go home.

I loved the relaxing nature of the whole weekend. I cannot think of another race where I was sitting in a Marina restaurant by half 10, then by the pool for 1pm. It made for such a nice relaxing weekend.

So what did I think of the experience:

Limassol is a fantastic place, it’s a brilliant little town with the right mix of beaches to relax, history to explore, things to do and party.

I loved the idea of an after party and they clearly put a lot of thought into the event and the acts they had performing. It wouldn’t work at some/most events, but it works really well in Limassol.

The bling was good, I wished I’d had been able to do the half as it was a bit bigger and chunkier but it wasn’t to be. Leaving the pier empty for post-race chilling and selfies was a great idea. Had I have been on my own I might have liked to disappear from the event village rather than being penned in until the buses started again after midday.

The route isn’t the most picturesque, but neither was some other races I’ve recently done. Did I enjoy the race, I did yeah, I think that was because I had my own goal in mind and I accomplished it. There wasn’t a huge amount of support out, but that’s likely to be due to the very early start time. I know I’d rather start early and have minimal support than run in the searing hot sun.

I almost forgot to mention the free pictures too. I love that so many races are doing this now and they tend to be better quality than some you end up paying for.

Would I recommend Limassol Marathon Weekend, yes, yes I would. I cannot compare the weekend to any other UK races, it’s an experience to go out to Cyprus and run. The Limassol team look after all participants incredibly well and knowing the team they are always looking for new ways to improve the event and offer all the runners the best possible experience.

The dates for 2019 are already set (23/24th March) and packages will be available soon. Keep an eye out on the Limassol Marathon, UKRunChat and RunMummyRun social feeds for more information.

Big thank you to Limassol Marathon & Breathe Unity for inviting me out for the weekend.