Race Review: Media Maraton de Ibiza

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 Course Profile
Long lineal route beginning in the hills and finishing in Ibiza Town

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.

The course
Start line
Start line

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.

Ibiza Half Course Profile
The course winds down from its hilly start to finish on the sea front

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.

On the course
Run along Ibiza’s country roads
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.

Up and Down
Plenty of up and (thankfully) down along the course

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…

Ibiza Half Marathon
Action Shot: Water Grab!

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.

Finish line
Finish line with obligatory medal

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.

Ibiza Race Shirt
One of the few cons: slightly ropey race t-shirt

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…

Medal engraved
Free medal engraving was a nice perk

The 2019 edition has now been confirmed for 28 April 2019 and you can enter here. So, what are you waiting for?

Montjuic Magic!

  • Run type: hilly, paved loop
  • Location: Montjuic, southwest Barcelona
  • Distance: medium (5.5 miles / 9km approx)
  • Starting point: Parc de Bombers de Montjuïc (Montjuic Fire Station)


Castell de Montjuic sits on top of the 180m high Montjuic hill

We’re back with the third instalment of Run Barca’s guide to the best running routes in Barcelona. First up, we hit the beach. Next we took a trip up to Gaudi’s Park Güell.

This time, we’ll be taking in the spectacular views of Barcelona’s thriving port from atop of Montjuic. As well as climbing nearly 180 metres on the way to the summit, we’ll be running around the walls of an 18th Century castle, past a restored Art Deco hotel, and skirting past Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium as we wind our way up (and then back down) though Montjuic’s wooded hillsides.

This run might well be our favourite route in all of Barcelona, but one thing it’s not is easy. The course elevation starts off at close to sea level but by the time you reach Castell de Montjuic at the top of the hill, you’ll have hit the 600ft (180m) mark after 3.5km (2.2 miles) of pretty relentless climbing. But as every runner will tell you, the most challenging runs are often the most rewarding and this particular route is no exception. We’re sure you’ll come to love it just as much as us!

Montjuic Loop
Montjuic Route Map


Montjuic is said to mean, literally, “Jewish Mountain” – and indeed the remains of a medieval Hebrew cemetery have been found on the hill – although others suggest that its name derives from the Latin mons jovicus meaning “Hill of Jove”. Either way, there’s plenty of history in this here hill. Located to the southwest of Barcelona, Montjuic enjoys commanding views of both the harbour and city, and for that reason it has been a strategically important site for centuries.

While the current fort – Castell de Montjuic – which sits at the hill’s peak was built in the late 18th Century, a number of earlier fortified settlements pre-date it. Captured by the British during the Spanish War of Succession in 1705 and by the French during the Napoleonic Wars, the castle was held by both the Republicans and Nationalists during the ebb and flow of the Spanish Civil War and was the site of Catalan nationalist leader Lluís Companys’ execution in 1940 on General Franco’s orders.

Today you can visit the castle for €5 and enjoy 360º views of Barcelona from the viewing platform inside the grounds.

Almost there…! Runners approaching Castell de Montjuic

But enough history… Let’s get on with this run.

The Route

Our starting point for this run is the Fire Station at the bottom of Montjuic’s eastern side, nearest the harbour, just a short hop along from the Maritime Museum and the Columbus Monument. Turning off of Passeig de Montjuic, you’re going to take a left up the pedestrianised Passatges de les Bateries, whose name pays homage to the many gun emplacements littering the hillside. From the get go, you’ll be running up hill, albeit only gently at this stage, and before long the pedestrianised road turns to a set of gravelled paths through the charming Jardines de Mossen Costa i Llobera – a landscaped garden specialising in cacti of all shapes and sizes. Luckily, the neatly kept walkways are wide enough not to run the risk of running into something sharp and prickly so fear not…


Montjuic Start
Turn left up the hill and head into the Jardines de Mossen Costa i Llobera

Keep running up hill and bear right (avoid going up any steps, however, as there are step-free routes through the park) until you hit the exit at the garden’s southwest side where you’ll meet a road named the Carretera de Miramar, one of the main routes by car up Montjuic. Here you’ll turn back upon yourself to your right, continuing to run up hill on the pavement at the side of the road.

Prickly Feat: Large collections of cacti at the Jardines de Mossen Costa i Llobera

At the top you’ll see a tunnel: here you should bear right before the road disappears through the tunnel. You’ll run past the Restaurant Martinez on your right and into the plaza in which the Hotel Miramar is set.

At this point your legs will get some brief respite from climbing as the ground levels out as you cross the square in front of the Miramar. To your right you have a great vantage point from which to survey the harbour. The plaza serves as the destination for the cable car which runs to and from Barceloneta beach. While it’s possible to catch a cable car to the top of Montjuic, this is actually a totally separate system to the one that stops here. There’s no way to catch a cable car from the beach all the way to the top – and there’s a fair distance between the two cable car systems.

To your left is the restored 5 Star Hotel Miramar which preserves the facade of the 1929 palace which was built on Montjuic as part of the International Exposition of the same year. The hotel combines the historic facade with some pretty nifty modern architecture. It’s also a great location to sit and have a coffee in style while enjoying the views over the city. But that’s for another day – we’ve got more climbing to do…!

Flat Chance: enjoy some brief respite from the climb as the ground levels out in front of the  Hotel Miramar

Run around the perimeter of the square and turn left as the gradient picks up again into a gentle incline. To your right, you’ll have views overlooking the Poble-Sec district to the north. Keep running along the paved area and after a few metres you’ll get see a road coming uphill towards you. Cross over at the crossing and follow the Avinguda Miramar as the gradient picks up again. While we’ve included plenty of maps in this blog post, the golden rule is: if in doubt, choose the path that heads uphill…

At the top of the Avinguda Miramar you’ll reach the Montjuic Municipal Swimming Pool, another of the sites built for the 1929 International Exposition, but probably better known for hosting the Olympic diving and water polo in 1992. Surrounded by rows and rows of seating, the pool is now a little rundown from its Olympic heyday, but you can pay to swim here for the bargain price of €6.50 for the day and pretend you’re going for Olympic glory as you paddle around gently (or is that just me?). ‘Amazing’ is an overused word, but the views from the pool are out of this world and amazing certainly fits the bill in this case. For the meantime, however, you’ll have to take our word for it because, from the road along which you’ll be running, the views are fenced off.

Avinguda Miramar

Once you’ve passed the Municipal Pool on your right, you’ll see the Funicular Railway up ahead which ferries passengers up from the Paral·lel Metro Station and links to the second of Montjuic’s two cable car systems. By this point, you’ll be almost half way up the hill and you’ll have hit the 80m (262ft) mark. Your heart should also be pumping pretty hard by now and the lactate will be starting to build up in your legs but, like we said earlier, if it was easy it wouldn’t be as much fun, right?

Before you get to the Funicular Railway, turn left and up the hill, passing underneath the cable cars as they cruise on up towards the summit. You might want to tell yourself that, while riding the cable car might be a hell of a lot easier, you’re at least saving yourself a few euros and getting yourself a great workout to boot.

The easy way up: cable car from the Funicular Railway to the castle

From here, just keep climbing. The incline gets a little steeper as the road winds around to the right and the final push to the castle underneath the cable car lines is probably the steepest part of the climb. They’re are a few different paths you could take to the top but just keeping going upwards and you’ll hit the castle one way or another. And when you do, you’ll have climbed to about 180m (600ft approx.) as the course profile we clocked shows:

Montjuic profile
Our Monjuic Loop course profile

At the top, you’re rewarded with some fantastic views down over Barcelona’s busy shipping port. From way up high, the multi-coloured shipping containers look a bit like Lego bricks as they shine in the sun. Run past the main entrance to the castle on your right and you’ll see a few large gun emplacements. A few steps lead down to a gravel path that skirts along between the castle’s perimeter and Montjuic’s steep south-eastern side. Turn to your right and head along the trail that runs in the shadow of the castle’s walls. Keep heading along the path going straight on until it widens up into a more open area that meets the road and hit the tarmac again.

Trail round the perimeter of Castell de Montjuic

Keep following the road down hill bearing to your left. Most of the hard work has been done by this stage and your legs, heart and lungs can take it easy as you wind your way back down the mountain. We say ‘most’ of the hard work because eventually you reach a junction where you’ll need to turn right and head back up hill for a few minutes. Take the road that runs alongside the Olympic Stadium to your left as the route starts to run back down hill again and then take a right at the next junction onto Avinguda de l’Estadi.


Hook a left down onto Passeig de Santa Madrona and then take your first right onto Passeig de l’Exposicio. Keep following the road as it hugs the side of Montjuic and eventually you’ll arrive back at the fire station where you started. You’ll have 5.5 miles (almost 9km) on the clock and you’ll have had a great workout. All in all, we clocked the total elevation gain at a cool 237 metres (777 feet), the vast majority of that recorded in the first half of the course. And much like the graffiti daubed on the side of one of the old gun batteries, we think that after all that climbing you’ll have good reason to feel ‘PROUD’ of yourselves:

Reach the top without stopping and you can justifiably feel proud

Check out the rest of our snaps and let us know what you think of the route by leaving us a reply below.

Need help with your training? Book a training session with Run Barca.


Get your hill training in by taking a trip to Park Güell


  • Run type: hilly, mixed surface (paved and gravel) out and back
  • Location: Park Güell / Gracia
  • Distance: short (less than 4 miles / 6.5km)
  • Starting point: Avinguda Diagonal near Verdeguer Metro

Last up in Run Barca’s guide to the best running routes the city has to offer, we hit the beachfront for a medium distance, flat-as-a-pancake dash along the Passeig Maritim. This time we have something a little different – a course guaranteed to get your calves burning as we climb about 135m (442 feet) in less than 2 miles on our way up to Gaudi’s spectacular modernist public space, Park Güell.

Park Guell zoom out
Full Route Map

Speedwork in Disguise

Park Guell Elevation
Check out the very healthy elevation profile we clocked


The Route

So let’s get going! The starting point for this run is a stretch of semi-parkland that runs between the Passeig de Sant Joan, just north of Avinguda Diagonal near Verdeguer Metro station.

Starting Point


Keep going until you reach the top of the stretch of semi-parkland, cross the road at the top, head left briefly and then take the first right onto the Carrer del Torrent de les Flors. This is a long, steadily inclining road which stretches up past the centre of Gracia to the west, criss-crossed by relatively quiet streets (again, take care), until it reaches the busy main road Travessera de Dalt to the north.




Crossover and turn left along Dalt before taking the first right onto Av. del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya. The real climb up to Park Güell kicks off here as the road curves up steeply. You’ll go past a hospital on your right and a walled park and the grandiosely-named Church of the Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados en Sant José de la Montaña on your left.




Winding streets

Keep following the road upwards as it winds left, right, and left again, climbing steeply up the hillside through residential streets. As long as you keep going upwards, you can’t take a wrong turn until eventually you will reach Av. del Coll del Portell. Here you will see Park Güell’s wall on your right. At the top, you’ll run out of road but carry on running onto the gravel path on the right-hand side and keep bearing right and you’ll enter the Park on its north side.


Here you have two choices. EITHER you can chill out for a while, catch your breath, and check out the sights around Gaudi’s magnificent municipal space (we’d recommend checking out a sunset and seeing Barcelona bathed in orange and pink light from high above the city). OR you can push on through. Either way, by this stage you will have got less than 2 miles (3km) on the clock but the climb alone will be enough to have got your heart pumping and your legs burning. If you choose to push on, take a left from the place where you entered the park and run up a slight incline past a large pastel-yellow villa named ‘Salve’.


Salve, Park Güell

By now, you’ve done all the hard work and all you have to do is wind your way down through the stylist park, running over its idyllic elevated walkways, marvelling at Gaudi’s organically-inspired creations as you go. You’ll emerge at the park’s southernmost entrance. Take your second left once you’re through the gate downhill onto Carrer de Larrard. Here you run down a straight road until you’re back at Travessera de Dalt. Cross over the road, turn right and follow Dalt until you arrive at the top of Carrer del Torrent de les Flors on the left after a couple of metres and make your way back to where you started.


Park Guell
Slalom your way down through the park over Gaudi’s elevated walkways

All in all, we clocked this route at 3.8 miles or just over 6km. It’s by no means a long run but the steep hill climb is invaluable. Adding a climb like this to your weekly routine will reap you real training benefits: namely, increased speed and endurance when on the flat. Climbing hills also builds leg strength by developing the muscles in your thighs, calves and glutes (we’re talking seriously strong buttocks here!) and burns more calories per mile than the same distance done on the flat. Even the run back downhill, while feeling relatively easy, works the lower abs and your quads (although you should take smaller steps to reduce impact when running downhill and be careful not to heel strike).

Alternative Routes

While our suggested route takes the most direct course up Carrer del Torrent de les Flors, you may wish instead to run up through the pleasant centre of Gracia, turning right and left through its grid-like streets before you reach Travessera de Dalt. This will serve to break up the first part of the climb as the streets which run east to west are relatively flat so you’ll only be running uphill when heading north. Once you reach Dalt, you can pick up the rest of the suggested route.

Church in Placa de la Virreina, Gràcia: Parròquia de Sant Joan Baptista de Gràcia

Hill Sprints

For those of you who can’t get enough of hill training, you’ll notice plenty of great spots to do a few repeat hill sprints along the way to Park Güell (or even in the park itself). Undoubtedly one of the best exercises you can do to build leg strength and speed, try picking a decent length stretch of hill, as steep as you can manage, for a set of hill sprints. Run 6 to 8 reps of 10 seconds each, sprinting as fast as you can up hill, and walking back down slowly (try and leave at least 60 seconds between sprints). Again, throw some hill repeats into your routine and you’ll be amazed at how your pace begins to improve as the weeks go by.

And if you’re putting in the hard work whilst surrounded by the magical Park Güell, looking down over one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in the world, then it can’t be that bad, can it?

Need help with your training? Book a training session with Run Barca.

Check out some of our snaps taken along the route and tell us what you think in the comments: