I arrived at Paphos airport early Saturday afternoon and headed directly to the race expo situated at the harbour. It literally took a couple of minutes to collect my race number and goody bag. The race branded drawstring goody bag contained magnesium gel, ice gels, two bottles of energy drink, a voucher for a beer, race branded running socks, the event technical t-shirt, an energy gel and energy bar. I then headed to the accommodation metres away, unpacked and headed to Pizza Express to get something substantial to eat. The menu featured some familiar dishes and one’s incorporating local cuisine. I ordered a starter, two mains and a dessert. Needless to say I made the most of the vegan menu. After a short stroll along the harbour I went back to the accommodation and prepared kit and nutrition for the early start in the morning. I opted for a vest, shorts, compression socks and Magic Speed 2. I must admit that I agonised over whether to pack them or NovaBlast 3 LE. As I have been running a lot in Magic Speed 2 and on the back of a strong Semi Marathon de Paris the week before wearing them I opted to wear them. I wonder if you can relate.
The course is a point to point starting from Petra Tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Birthplace) and finishing in the shadow of Paphos Castle in the harbour. In the morning buses to the start were leaving the port from 6am to 6:20am so it was literally a case of you snooze you lose. I headed out at 6am, strolled across the road and was seated comfortably on the coach by 6:02am. After a short while we departed and drove to the start. It was reminiscent of coach trip to the start of Athens Marathon as it puts the distance you’re about to run into perspective. Shortly after passing Petra Tou Romiou on our right we pulled in on our left and disembarked. I was cold and I was slightly regretting putting on a jacket to keep me warn until the race start at 7:30am. I stood around for a while and then was greeting by PT Barts whom I knew from Instagram but had never met. We chatted until shortly before the start and then I placed my bag in the van so that it would be waiting for me at the finish. I joined the start pen near the back. Judging by the race numbers and bodies there could have been around 300 runners.
The countdown from 10 concluded and we were off with the Mediterranean Sea and Petra Tou Romiou to the left of us. It was quite breezy but fortunately it was to our backs. The first few kms were up hill heading north west along the coast. There was a water station at 3km and at 6km there was an aid station with water, energy drinks and fruit. I made sure I took on water at each of the early stations as I had a feeling it would warm up at some point. We ran south of Kouklia along the B6 and passing a water station at 9km. We turned left into Mandria around the 12km mark to be greeted by an aid station. We did a loop around Mandria which was quite rural with fields. I enjoyed this section of the course, although the surface wasn’t as smooth as the highways the air was fresh, apart from occasional horse manure, and it was peaceful. Within the Mandria loop there were water, aid stations and toilets at 15, 18 and 21kms. As we left Mandria we turned left and joined the B6 headed in the direction of Paphos Airport. Shortly after passing south of Timi there was an aid station at 24km. We turned left at Alchelia and headed south passing an aid station at 27km, turned right to run parallel with the Paphos Airport runway in the direction of the River Ezousa. We turned right passed an aid station at 30km and this is when I started to feel the pinch. The breathing was fine but the legs were starting to feel tired. We turned left onto the B6 once more heading west and turned left at Sfageio Junction, a roundabout. We ran south, turned right at the Ezousa Junction, a roundabout, onto Spyrou Avenue passing aid stations at 36 and 37km. Shortly after we turned left, heading south on a decline. My legs were too tired to benefit with from gravity to quicken my pace and I felt like I was struggling to hang on in there. As we joined Poseidonos I started to recognise the area and could sense the end was near. I passed the water station at 39km and took benefit of some well needed water as it was much warmer. The closer I got to the harbour the more encouragement there was coming from spectators and people on their Sunday morning strolls. As I ran along the seafront I knew I was a few strides away from the finish line. I could hear the waves, smell the sea and see Paphos Castle in the distance getting closer with every stride. I ran to what I thought was the finish and then the course when right off Paphos Promenade around Basilica of Pangia Limeniotissa looping left to finish in the harbour with Paphos Castle to the right. It was a great finish line and the perfect place to take a finisher medal photo.
The terrain was a blend of smooth main roads and slightly less smooth rural roads but not anything that a road racing shoe couldn’t handle. The flight time from London Gatwick to Paphos Airport is around four and a half hours and fares are quite reasonable if you book early. In terms of accommodation there are lots of hotels and short stay apartments available suitable for a range of budgets. There is also a half marathon option which starts from Paphos and heads out and loops back to join the marathon course. The pre-race information was clear, the expo was well organised, race number collection was quick, transportation to the start was smooth and the race organisation was good.
Race day trainers:
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