Zurich Barcelona Marathon
Lotto system opens in September
The race takes place early March, with registration open until 17,000 entries achieved (which has usually happened 3 weeks before – follow the numbers on social media).
Don’t be confused by the sponsorship name – Zurich, an insurance company – this is a very Catalonian run. It’s a mat-to-mat run with a 6-hour cutoff, so don’t be fearful of the starting waves that let runners depart at different intervals. Unlike some races, even those at the back will get the honour of starting with fanfare – you’ll get confetti, cheers and the sounds of Freddy Mercury and Montserrat Caballé blasting “Barcelona” as you cross the start line. It’s emotional and amazing.
The course is excellent. Barcelona is the second most visited city in Europe and enjoying closed roads while exploring this city is exceptional. Expect fair weather, well-stocked water tables and crowded streets full of cheering locals. Due to the political situation, you will witness some Catalan protests / statements / flags, but these add to the fun of the race. You’ll run past modern and historic landmarks such as Camp Nou, Sagrada Familia and Arc de Triomf and will start and finish at the city’s Placa d Espanya.
The course does include a couple of long dog legs – usually a negative experience. In Barcelona, however, these legs are jam packed with music and water tables. In fact, the entire route is filled with music or entertainment at every kilometer.
A relatively flat course, this is a really fun race until the last couple of kilometers which are uphill. You will, however, be cheered on by other runners and, once you turn into the finishing straight, the most encouraging welcome committee.
The race is well organised and everything runs like clockwork. The slightly later start is welcomed. It’s a good race for spectators to meet you along the route without going too far. Take tissues. This could be an emotional one.
- Don’t explore too much before the race – a rookie error in a new city if you’re planning to run. It’s easy to walk in Barcelona; you might get carried away!
- The night before the race, head to the “Magic Fountain”, at the start of the race and enjoy a massive fountain with light and music show. It’s a great way to get in the spirit of Barcelona.
- Transport is easy with a 10-journey ticket that can be used for more than one person.
- Barcelona is fairly affordable by SA standards.
- The expo is extremely good with plenty of well-priced items (unlike too many SA expos).
Reviewer: Claire Mathieson