8th May 2016 – #12M Wizz Air Skopje Marathon
I had a great time so far. Traveling around, seeing places, running, meeting friends and making new ones.
My trip to Skopje was not an exception, even though the marathon was a tough one. The track was not that difficult, but it was quite a struggle to reach the finish line.
I had a two-week break after the Rock’n’Roll Madrid Marathon. Since I had some problems with my right ankle, I avoided running as much. Instead, I did some biking and swimming. I finally managed to ride one of the old MTB bikes I had from Bucharest to my Mioveni, my hometown. A ~130 km ride, which took me about 6h 40min.
Getting from Bucharest to Skopje was not as fun as I expected.
A train that took 9-10 hours to arrive in Sofia, one hour in the bus station, and a 6-hour mini-bus ride to Skopje. If only that train had some sockets. There was one socket in the restroom, and it wasn’t even working. Who would use a laptop in a train restroom anyway?
It was impossible to sleep in the mini-bus. The driver was going too fast, the roads were bad, the chairs were uncomfortable, and, if you managed to close an eye, there was the passport control.
I got to Skopje at 3 30 AM, two hours earlier than expected, and I started walking. At 4 30 AM, I reached the hostel. Everybody here was sleeping. The gate and the door were open so I entered the lobby. I had to wait there until morning to check-in, so I tried sleeping with my head on the table. Easier said than done.
A terrible way of spending a night, with just 2 days before a marathon. And being tired was only one of the reasons why I had a tough time running the Wizz Air Skopje Marathon. The whole week I neglected my meals, and it backfired.
During the marathon it was hot. Hotter than the marathons in Chisinau or Madrid.
The “cherry on the top” – a toenail. The night before the run, I had nothing else better to do than messing up a toenail that looked like falling. But it wasn’t ready to do so.
It wasn’t a pretty picture, but after the Madrid marathon, I realized that I shouldn’t think about the time of a marathon that much. I’m not an athlete, neither am I aiming to become one. There are so many people that focus so much on sports and some of them they were born for this. Many years I was chubby and I should be happy I started taking running more seriously. For two years I had a great time running half and full marathons. It changed the way I see things, even though most of the times is hard to feel that I’m not fast enough. But now and then I remember I shouldn’t be too harsh with myself.
The Wizz Air Skopje Marathon 2016
I was looking forward to running here. I found out about this event a couple of months ago, and I registered in March.
While I am writing this post, I am also checking a magazine about the marathon, which they shared with the race kits. It seems that this was the 12th edition of the Skopje Marathon, and it’s the first event of its kind to receive 5 stars from the EAA ( European Athletic Associaton).
The track start/finish area was near Skopje Central Square, under Gate Macedonia. After we crossed the Stone Bridge, we turned left, and we ran 2 laps of 21 km around the city.
The organizers did a good job, indeed. The fee was not that big, 16 euros, and the result was a quality event. In spite of that, I heard some small complaints regarding the water points. On the long loops, it would had been useful to have an additional point. 4-5 km is not a long distance without a water point, but I’m sure that the heat had something to do with this.
Most of the runners were in the half marathon. There were pacemakers for the 21k, but unfortunately, in the marathon, there weren’t any. Since the start was at the same time, 8:45 AM, for the marathon, half marathon, and marathon relay, after the first 21k lap, the long boulevards were quite deserted. Most of the times, I run the 42k if it’s available and I feel that the start of the half marathon should be slightly later, so the course won’t be as deserted towards the finish. Except for marathons that have thousands of runners. It’s not a big difference there, you’re always surrounded by runners.
Running and new friends
In the hostel, I met two other runners. Bozidar, from Macedonia, running in the half marathon, and Tsvetelin, from Bulgaria, marathon.
In the first lap, I had the same pace with Tsvetelin but after the 21st kilometer, I felt that I can go faster. At that point, the timer showed 1h 46min, and it felt alright.
I was still thinking about the problems I had in Madrid, but I hoped for the best and, with half of the marathon being already covered, I increased my pace.
But it wasn’t my day, and I knew it after the 32nd kilometer when I felt tired and I started walking. An older runner passing by told me something in Macedonian and I started running again along his side. This was it. The countdown. Every kilometer was marked, and, as I was getting closer to the finish line, I was hoping for some energy leftovers to kick in. In vain. Nothing magical happened. The boulevards felt even longer now, and not even when I passed the 40km sign I couldn’t get any faster.
Besides the struggle, running a marathon in Macedonia felt the same as running one in Romania. People on the side cheer you up by shouting either “Bravo!” or “Haide!”.
During the last loop, I met Tsvetelin again and we both crossed the finish line after 4 hours of running, at a difference of 3 minutes. Bozidar had a good day and finished his 21k race in 1h 33min.
My chip registered a time of 4:00:01. 4 hours is not such a bad time after all.
Read more about the event at http://skopskimaraton.com.mk/en/th_event/skopje-marathon-2015/