There is a Spanish saying that goes “Running is for cowards”, which is pronounced all too often by non-running Spaniards as a derogatory to describe tights and neon t-shirt wearing fellow citizens. We runners naturally dislike it. The good thing is there seem to be more and more “cowards” in the town of A Coruña, where I (Orsi) live. This is in part owing to the latest running-craze sweeping through all Europe and hitting the Iberian Peninsula hard. Likewise the city council is also playing its part promoting the Coruña Corre series consisting of six short races over the season and of course the BIG 3: Coruña10, Coruña21 and Coruña42. The names speak for themselves.
Last Sunday was the day for all courageous runners to give a try to the brand new half marathon course, and nearly 2300 did so. This is an impressive number considering the infamous Galician weather which tempts runners all too often to swap their wet-cold-windy training sessions for their cozy warmish pub or café on the corner. The fact that this many made it training through the winter is something notable indeed. If you want to talk numbers, talk numbers. The second edition of Coruña21 back in 2010 saw 854 runners cross the finish line, out of which 57 were women. This year 2269 runners completed the course, 237 women. Hurray for the growing number of runner girls in Coruña! I don’t want to sound a feminist or anything like that, but I’m glad there has been a notable change. When I arrived here in 2008, not only did I see fellow runners cruising the waterfront only occasionally, there seemed to be no girl runners whatsoever. There were walking girls instead – it just seemed like sweating and panting in public was not a girly thing around here.
Anyway, enough of history. Let’s get to the race. As I said before, this year we had a chance to run a brand new half marathon course. The previous editions weren’t especially spectacular with runners having to complete two almost identical laps, mainly through not so nice parts of town. This year, although there were quite a bit of there-and-backs, we had only one lap to run, complete with the final kilometers along the usually windy but beautiful waterfront and near the Tower of Hercules. Another important novelty was that wheelchair athletes were allowed to participate in the event for the very first time.
Chan and I decided to take it easy, using this as a long tempo as part of our training for the Vienna City Marathon in April. Regardless, being one of the girls with a faster PB, I got a chance to start from the first coral, which meant we could start running at a decent pace right away, and only had to be careful about not getting run over (never better said) by the group following Spanish marathon champion Pedro Nimo, pacing for the 1:25 mark. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, which as I said is often the tricky part about running in Galicia. It only rained briefly before the start and there was practically no wind, making this a really enjoyable run. I like racing in Coruña because of all the familiar faces: runner friends, acquaintances and friends of friends you barely know from sharing one or two runs and the familiar faces you see regularly when training on the waterfront or in the Tower area. Actually, the there-and-back character of the race gives you a chance to cheer everyone several times, which is fun! As we weren’t racing our hearts out, we could fully enjoy the atmosphere and arrived quite fresh and strong to turn it up on the last bit.
In sum, I think we both had fun, and managed our goal time, which was being under 1:30 for this one. In a way I feel sorry for not being part of the next round, the Coruña42 – at least not as a runner –, where many of the valiant familiar faces will line up again for the start, no matter if sun or wind or hail. Because this is how we run in Coruña.