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Party on at Limassol Marathon

by kirsty
Tuesday 21st March 2017
 
 
Saturday, 7am, a dreary Gatwick Airport. Despite the early hour the queues are big and people are grumpy and stressed. All the expected annoyances play out - delays boarding, people blocking the aisles, people with fatal-sounding coughs. Grey old Gatwick is a miserable place.
 
Fast forward 24 hours and I'm stood on an exceptionally beautiful start line, a few feet from the sea in sunny Limassol, Cyprus. The misery of Gatwick is a world away. There are a few nerves in the air but mostly it's epic views, a lovely temperature for running (at 7am) and pumping house music.
 
In Limassol it's illegal to do anything without a bit of banging house. Stress and misery are also outlawed. This makes it a pretty perfect marathon destination for those seeking some pure escapism from dreariness, rain, never-ending winter and long runs spent slipping around in mud. Or as we know it in the UK, March.
 
Limassol marathon has been growing in popularity over the last few years and it's now popular with Brits and runners from all over the world (Russia, Estonia, Kenya, Spain, Canada, South Africa). It's easy to see why. It's a very popular holiday destination, situated on the south coast of Cyprus, about 45 mins from Paphos or Larnaca airports, with great beaches, hotels and restaurants and a very kind climate. While it might be a bit hot for running in the high summer it's pretty perfect in March. At the start it was about 12 degrees and it maxed out at about 20. 

Limassol Pete 2

There's a 5k, a 10k, a half and a marathon and the routes are pretty simple. They follow the coast and you're never more than about 50 metres from the sea. As I live in Berkshire, looking at the sea never gets old and it proved a welcome distraction as I embarked on a road marathon, not normally my favourite thing.
 
We set off from the marina, with cheering crowds, and of course pumping house music. The marathon route does a loop around the marina, then heads out along the coast, before turning round and coming back. The further out of town you got the quieter the support got but the more beautiful the route became. It started to become slightly hilly, the coast got more and more spectacular and we even had some ruins to look at. This was my favourite part. Then we turned round and ran back and just as we thought we were on the home straight they turned us around again and made us do another out and back loop. This was my least favourite part. 

Limassol Pete 1

But the kilometre markers passed quickly and there were lots of friendly supporters out there. The water stations were plentiful (about every 2 - 3k), which I found a useful target to aim for as those last few miles got hard, as they inevitably do. It's a very flat and fast marathon, with PBs galore.
 
There's a party atmosphere running throughout this event. There was a pasta party the night before, with DJs from the famous Guaba Beach Bar. There was a lone raver on the dance floor when I was there and she was, as they say, dancing like nobody was watching. Through the race there were speaker stacks pumping out music to keep you going. And this is what really blew my mind - an 'after party', DJd by Guaba Beach Bar, which started at 8am (yes, really) and ran on until, well, I suspect it might still be going. And guess who was first on that dance floor? Yep, lone raver.
 
The organisation was excellent and I think that this brings us to what really sets this race apart. For an event that looks like one giant party, underneath the surface it all runs incredibly smoothly because they've thought of EVERYTHING. Names on numbers, a complimentary post-run beer, hotel packages for running clubs, even having race numbers and packs waiting for you in your hotel room if you've booked a package. This to me is what makes this race so idiosyncratically Cypriot. Hospitality is very much their forte. Nothing is too much trouble. They could not make you feel any more welcome on this island they're so proud to show off. 

Limassol Pete 2

I was there with a group of Brits, many of whom I'd never met before except on social media, and the weekend was like being plucked from a chilly, grey England and dunked into a little oasis of calm and sunshine with great company and great food. I'd resolved to just enjoy this marathon (but secretly doubting this would happen on a road out-and-back route) and I really, truly loved it. You can run a marathon anywhere any weekend of the year, but this was much more than a marathon. It had culture, gastronomy, hospitality, great touches. It was an experience, not just a marathon. 
 
Sunday afternoon. Marathon complete, post-race beer drunk, I'm sat in a restaurant with a lovely group of people eating lovely food in the sunshine. Fast forward 24 hours and I'm stood in a huge queue at Gatwick passport control and people are getting angry. I start to wonder if the weekend really happened. I put my hand in my bag for my passport and I find a halloumi pie I bought at Paphos airport and I know it did. 

All photos by Pete Aylward (Runphoto)

Read the full report about the race and the winners here
 
You can find news and results on Limassol Marathon here.
 
A big thank you to the race organisers for giving me a media place in the race, and for putting me up in one of the official race hotels - the extremely lovely Amathus Beach Hotel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 

 
 
 
 
 

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