Porto is a special city given its history, amazingly rich architecture and beautiful setting on the steep banks of the River Douro. Luckily the half marathon avoids all those hills and sticks to a lovely flat course along both banks of the Douro. You won’t find a more beautiful running course. The views of the cities – Porto and Vila Gova de Gaia, along with the huge bridges that span the river are spectacular.
My race went well – I set a new PB by 40 seconds on my last PB from 2012. My time was 1h18m57s for 87th place. I was happy to get a PB but had been targeting 1:16 and was on target for the first 0km. I felt good but kept telling myself it’s a long race, so to not push too hard. After crossing the Ponte Luiz I we ran along Vila Nova da Gaia side for 8km. the road had a few small rises and the cobblestones weren’t’ ideal in parts.
Returning over the bridge at 13km I could feel the pace slipping. I had to maintain 3:36 to hit my target. I was over 3:40 heading to 3:45. I think the 3 marathon ion the Camino the previous week were still weighing down my legs – not ideal but c’est la vie.
I kept trying to push but the 15km turnaround took forever to arrive. I kept believing my last 5km could be fast and while I got in a group with 2 others, my pace was still 3:45 and I was working hard. Only my last km did I get back to 3:36 and that was flat out. Ultimately I’m happy – it’s a PB in a beautiful city. A great experience and I’d recommend the race as a perfect weekend away.
[I wrote this blog sitting in a Port bar, sampling 3 glasses of port (white, rub and special reserve Twady) with sardines (all for €8). With live fado singing wafting through the warm air as I looked out on the street below – there’s nowhere I’d rather be to celebrate!]