Looking back to the Ibiza Half Marathon – a big thumbs up and a definite for 2019
A fantastic race with excellent organisation, plenty of freebies, and an entry fee that won’t break the bank
Before I begin, a confession: I bloody love this race. I have barely a bad word to say about it. If this race was a person, I’d be buying it flowers and expensive gifts. It’s fantastic. And – unlike wining and dining a paramour – you don’t have to spend much of your hard-earned cash on the race entry fee with bargain basement early bird entry prices of just €15 and loads of additional freebies. In fact, this race is so good, entering it is like being taken out and treated yourself. So, if you’re looking for options for Spring races next year, this race should be near the top of your list. Take a look at the details:
- Race: Media Maraton de Ibiza
- Date: 28 April 2018
- Surface type: road / tarmac
- Course type: fast, declining linear route
- Approx. temperature: 15-20°C
- Cost: Early-bird entry fee of €15 rising to €20 and €25 for later entries
- Amenities: shuttle bus to the start line, bag drop, regular water stations along the route, free massages and medal engraving for finishers
Ibiza is known for a lot of things. A lively nightlife, sandy white beaches, a pleasant climate and – away from the clubbing and the parties – pine-clad hills and quaint little villages up in the island’s hilly interior and along its coasts. Ibiza is not, however, necessarily known for its running – but perhaps it should be. Late October sees San Antonio’s Ibiza Trail Marathon (with accompanying 21k and 10k), which showcases the Balearic island’s stunning scenery, while April sees the annual Ibiza Half Marathon – a fast, linear, road race which begins up in the hills in the south of the island and ends on the beachfront in Ibiza Town.
Given that the start line is up in the hills and the finish line is down on the coast, it’s probably no big surprise that there is a lot of downhill running in this race. This is certainly true for much of the first part of the race. The first mile (1.6km) or so is up and down before climbing to just over 200m above sea level. From this peak, however, the course is pretty much solidly down hill until just after the five mile (8km) point, as you can see on the course profile.
After plenty of downhill, runners are confronted with a pretty savage steep climb around about the 6 mile / 10km point. This is one of the steepest hills I’ve encountered during a race and so it was a bit of a shock to the system feeling like you’re treading water for a couple of minutes before you reach the crest. The elevated heart-rate, burning quads and calves, and general loss of breath takes maybe a mile or so to shake off but, happily, there are no more real noticeable ups or downs for the rest of the course – rather the race undulates gently, without being totally flat, from this point until the finish.
In terms of crowds, until the very end of the race, there are none to speak of really. Because the hills of Ibiza are pretty sparsely populated, this is not too surprising. The London Marathon, this ain’t – so if you’re one of those runners who feeds off the crowd, you’re going to be disappointed. If, like me, you tend to zone out in a race or (like a runner, who shall remain nameless, that I know well) you get irrationally annoyed at shouts of encouragement from spectators, then you can keep your head down and focus on your splits. Having said that, the race organisers – clearly mindful of the demoralising effect the steep hill mentioned in the paragraph above was likely to have on runners – arranged for a troupe of drummers to be stationed at the top of the killer incline to boost morale. On top of that, once you reached the race’s finish along the coast in Ibiza Town, crowds of holiday-makers and locals enthusiastically cheer you over the finish line.
Pros and Cons
Let’s start with the cons. There aren’t many. In fact, I can think of only one. And that’s the fact that, because a lot of this course is downhill, it’s not the easiest race on the legs and joints. You will probably feel this race for a little while afterwards, especially if you’re a heavier, taller runner with a lower running cadence (steps per minute), because of the likely heavier impact of each stride. Those of you who are a bit more spritely and run with quicker, lighter steps will get off a little easier but not be spared entirely. I spent much of the last racing season trying to develop a higher cadence and become more light on my feet but I still felt the toll of all the downhill in this race.
If I were being a bit picky, I’d say that the obligatory race t-shirt was a little bit budget – definitely not one of the lightweight, breathable pieces of kit that sometimes get handed out and the design wasn’t the greatest either. But this does feel a bit picky, so…
Onto the pros. Well, firstly, the flipside of the point above about course elevation is that, while running downhill means more impact for your legs to deal with, your heart, lungs and muscles in general are going to find it a lot easier to deal with. If you’re looking for a fast race and gunning for a PB, the Ibiza Half Marathon is a good bet.
Secondly, the organisation of this race is really well done. The fact that the race is linear with a start line away from any of the main towns on the island has the potential to cause a few headaches. Not a problem in this instance. For a nominal fee, shuttle buses ferried runners from the expo centre / finish line in Ibiza Town up to the start and the bag drop (with drop off at the start and pick up at the finish) worked like a charm.
Thirdly (and this is definitely the best bit), there are a couple of nice freebies thrown into this race. Crossing the finish line, I picked up the (usually) standard medal (but see My Worse Race for an instance of medal disappointment) water and snacks that greet finishers of most 21km races these days. After catching my breath, I spotted a row of massage tables where a team of professionals trained in the art of muscle manipulation were doing their thing. “How much?”, I asked. “Gratis.” Result! I have seen post race massages an average races in the UK costing around €15 or €20 so to get a good massage for free was a nice touch.
Fresh off the massage table, my legs having been skilfully (and just the right side of painfully) pounded and rubbed to take the edge off of the achiness that would surely hit home later, I spotted another queue: for medal engraving. Once again, those sweetest of words – gratis – were uttered, and within seconds my name and time had been etched into the back of my race medal with a high-tech laser. Everybody loves free stuff, but what’s more remarkable about this race is that the entry fee is already ridiculously cheap (€15! Yes, €15 for early bird entrants!). How can they afford to chuck in all these freebies? Who knows, but I’m not complaining…
The 2019 edition has now been confirmed for 28 April 2019 and you can enter here. So, what are you waiting for?