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By Paul Parmenter

This marathon was a long term goal for Cathy and I all year and we had been training since late summer. It was an ideal chance to do an overseas race and combine it with a holiday. We chose this marathon as members of Running Forever Running Club, Taunton were doing the race as their annual overseas marathon. Fantastic weather was predicted Gran Canaria having a perfect November climate, hot and sunny with average daily temperatures of 22c. We flew on the Thursday and had time to go whale watching, seeing a Bryd's Whale. Go to the expo, acclimatise, socialise and relax. It was soon clear that running would be hard work in the heat. A five mile tempo at dusk was boiling at 27c, yes the weather was hotter than predicted.

Race day dawned with a forecast of more hot and sunny weather. Various transport issues on the 5 mile journey to the start meant that some of our fellow runners had to run 2.5K to get there. We weren’t affected and got there early but it was already 22c! At 8am we started the race among 40 odd different nationalities taking an amazingly circuitous route through the suburbs of Maspalomas, going past sand dunes, a lake and through a golf course. Lots of hairpin there and back stretches meant that I saw all of the other 11 runners I knew at least once during the race. The 1st 13 miles went well, it was hot with some shade and I stuck to my target pace completing the half in 1.57. Then it hit! The shade disappeared temperatures reached 27c plus and it got hard. The course was a 2 lapper and I dropped my pace, mentally it had got tougher when the 4 hour pacer overtook me at 12 miles clearly going faster than the pace and the sun burning up from the road made it even tougher. The race was amazingly well organised and the aid stations every 2.5k really helped what felt like a battle for survival. I dropped my pace for 3 miles and reached mile 17 but even this wasn’t enough. For the next 6-7 miles my pace slowed even more as did everyone around me. But I began to pick up in the last 2 miles or so as I regained body temperature control.

The finish was lovely a slightly downhill paved path along the seafront to the lighthouse. I was so pleased to finish and quickly drank the free alcohol free beer, then a normal beer, loads of water and ate the free paella. 4 hour 27 mins was about 30 mins slower than I wanted but as we gathered at the end it soon became clear that almost all the other Taunton runners were half hour slower than expected. Cathy came home with about a 1 hour 20 min pb for a marathon finishing in 5.20. I was delighted to be the 4th Taunton runner home out of 12 despite being 2nd oldest and having recovered from injury this year and finishing midfield in a tough race.

Doing such a well organised overseas race was brilliant and having a week on the island afterwards was perfect, the weather stayed hot and sunny. We can’t wait to do another one maybe somewhere a bit cooler!