A rock and a hard race

The 35th Madrid Marathon will feature 1,500 more runners and 21 bands

Runners on the Castellana boulevard during last year's Madrid marathon, in which more than 10,000 people participated.
Runners on the Castellana boulevard during last year's Madrid marathon, in which more than 10,000 people participated.CRISTÓBAL MANUEL

As millions of Madrileños wake up next Sunday, a huge crowd of track & field fanatics will be attempting the legendary feat of running a marathon. Twelve thousand runners will travel the 42,195-meter course, compared with 10,500 last year. To those you can also add the 6,200 people participating in a 10-kilometer race. What's more, livening up their journey along the route will be 21 rock bands playing live.

The challenge begins at 9am in Plaza de Colón and will finish, at most, six hours later in the Retiro Park, where runners of all ages will be hoping to end their agonizing journey.

Three Kenyan athletes with personal bests of under two hours and seven minutes stand out as the elite competitors in the men's race: Felix Limo (2:06.14), who won the 2006 London Marathon and was fourth last year in Berlin; Paul Kirui (2:06.44); and Moses Arusei (2:06.50).

The women's race will feature Russian Natalya Volgina, with a best time of 2:27.32, and Lithuanian Diana Lobacevske, with 2:28.03. This means the first athletes could reach the finish line not long after 11am.

Specialists say the critical point is kilometer 35, which in Madrid coincides with the toughest section

Of the 18,209 runners who have signed up, 10,066 are from the Madrid region, with the remainder divided between those from other parts of Spain (4,021) and those from overseas (4,122). In all, athletes from 72 foreign countries will take part, with the United States the best represented (841 runners), followed by France (619) and Italy (535). Race organizers have calculated that these international participants and their companions will spend 12.2 million euros on accommodation and daily expenses during their stay.

The now traditional Runner's Fair will be in Pavilion IX in the Casa de Campo from 10am to 7pm on Friday and Saturday, where competitors can collect their race numbers and find out about new developments in the sport. On Saturday the runners and a companion will also be able to attend a pasta dinner. The route is identical to that of other years, requiring a big effort along uphill sections such as the Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de las Acacias and the Ronda de Valencia.

Marathon specialists say the critical point is kilometer 35, which in the Madrid race coincides with the particularly tough section along the Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto. The athletes will have eight provision points and six hydration areas along the route.

Runners who find themselves unable to continue will be able to hitch a lift on a support car to the finish line. The whole route, including the entrance and exit, will be manned by dozens of volunteers. The bands will be stationed in the areas featuring the largest numbers of people, as well as at the entrance and exit, and have been selected from over 200 hopefuls. Their prize also consists of a trip to the Las Vegas marathon in December.

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