When: October 16 2011
Where: Palma, Majorca
First Man: Mark Dalkins (2:34:17)
First Woman: Sonja Oberem (2:51:53)
Last Finisher: 6:00:35
No. of finishers: 9205 (across the marathon, half-marathon, 10K and kids' events)
White sandy beaches lined with palm trees, beautiful harbours jam-packed with the expensive toys of the uber-rich and colourful streets full of 700-year-old architecture; it is hard to believe that just 10 miles down the road lies Britain's stag do capital, Magaluf. But the Majorcan capital city Palma couldn't be a more idyllic setting for a last-chance jaunty jog in the sun before the winter months set in.
Initially chiefly a German race with local Spanish spectators, the 8th TUI Marathon Palma de Majorca now hosts over 9,000 runners from 59 countries, taking part in the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, Nordic Walking 10K and kids' runs. And on the guest list this year, as well as a plethora of German celebs, was a strong British contingent (over 10% of those taking part), two backwards runners and a swarm of the Majorcan Light Infantry Regiment running for Cystic Fibrosis.
Before the sun had a chance to heat up the course the race was under way, with 7,000 runners setting off under the shadow of the impressive La Seu cathedral. The route was initially extremely congested, not helped by a tight U-turn after just five minutes of running. But after the first 4K (and a mariachi band or two) the crowd seemed to find their pace, which allowed me to relax and take in the views during a beautiful little out-and-back along the harbour.
I was warned prior to the race that a PB probably wouldn't be on the cards and the reason for this became evident after the 10K mark, when the race took a turn into the Old City. This section is a tour of Palma's back streets, winding around tight corners and cobbled roads. It is somewhat undulating, but the shade from the buildings came as a relief and the city's bridges and markets are an entertaining distraction.
The (more popular) half-marathon distance ends here with a little loop back along the beach, while the marathon runners set off on an extremely lengthy out-and-back section beyond the city limits. It's a tough run in the midday sun, made tougher during the journey back by the disheartening sight of the finish line, a full six miles away. But this final leg is along the promenade, cooled by the sea breeze and blessed with a fantastic view of the Bay of Palma.
This race is becoming much more popular (the organisers are hoping to hit over 10,000 runners next year), especially with us Brits – we were the 3rd most represented nation at this year's race. British runners Mark Dalkins and Zoe West even took the victory in the marathon and ladies' half-marathon respectively. It's organised with German efficiency with abundant water stations, and the post-race party is cunningly timed at the tail end of Oktoberfest. So expect beers served by the litre – and save a little energy to dance on the tables to obscure Euro pop stars.
Fancy it? Visit www.tuimarathon.de for more information.