Running in Madrid

24 April 2015 1 Comments Category: Active Lifestyle, Robert Nieuwland

Madrid is a unique city for a number of reasons. For me, as a mountain runner, the most important one is its proximity to an absolutely breathtaking national park. This “Sierra de Guadarrama” at little more than half an hour from the centre’s sunny terraces and offers unlimited outdoor fun. But the centre itself also hides more than one pleasant surprise for runners alike.

From the narrow streets of 16th century Madrid – filled with characteristic tapas bars, romantic squares and authentic flamenco venues – to the peace and quiet of the city’s woods and parks… Madrid has it all. Europe’s top-five tourist destination is a super entertaining place to go for a run and the options are endless.

When I started running, I had one clear objective: the Madrid Marathon. It’s definitely not one of world’s fastest marathons, but without a doubt one of the most challenging of these urban races. The reason is the hills that Spain’s capital is built on. It’s extremely difficult to go out for a run without ‘conquering’ some hill(s); even though small, they’re always there.

The hill from hell

I remember how I left the beautiful city forest “Casa de Campo” still feeling all right after approximately 30 kilometres. But then, just after having crossed the river Manzanares, came the last 12 kms, almost entirely uphill!! The first one already got to me; I could hardly keep running and literally pushed myself forward in a grandfather-like manner, and – as my girlfriend told me afterwards – with a ghostlike face. I still only hardly remember how I reached the finish line after 3 hours and 3 minutes, half dead, but happy.

Since then, I’ve been able to make peace with Madrid’s hills and have actually started to really love them. For me, they’re part of the running game in Madrid and, as a competitive trail runner, a basic need in my training routine. Whenever I go back to my former hometown, Amsterdam, I notice how flat it is.

After more than 9 years of running in Madrid, my most important conclusion is:


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  1. Pingback: Staying Fit on Vacation - TypicalNonSpanishTypical Non Spanish

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