I actually love the snow.
What I don’t love is how unprepared we are in the UK to deal with it. People were advised against all but essential travel, they closed major stations because the platforms became slippery, and people panicked.
And of course, they hardly gritted any roads, making them treacherous for people on the pavements.
So it was with relief that our flight took off, albeit delayed, from Stansted to Cyprus and the promise of sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.
Well anything was going to be warmer than the -4.5 that registered in my car on Thursday.
Paphos is a 4.5hr flight from the UK and serviced by a number of low cost airlines and BA. With temperatures of 20-22 while we were there, it makes it the ideal early spring getaway, and perfect timing to escape the snow and icy temperatures.
I’d been invited out to Cyprus by the Cyprus marathon organisers to take part in the race. They have full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K options. Falling the week after the Tokyo marathon, I originally (ambitiously) thought I would run the half marathon, but am very glad I swapped to the 10k.
To avoid the heat, the races start at 7.30am with the full marathon, then set off at regular intervals until 8.40 and the 10K start. We stayed a 10 minute walk from the start area at the castle, and had a leisurely buffet breakfast (should have brought our own fave pre-run meals, would recommend this if you’re running abroad, just incase!)
Walking through town we were excited to see Starbucks and Cafe Nero after a bit of a failed attempt at the breakfast coffee machine (the Cafe Latte button seemed to produce Mochas!) – it’s definitely a home away from home in Paphos.
The start area was buzzing but we easily and quickly dropped our bags off, and watched the half marathoners head off. Nipped to the loo (originally we were dismayed to find only one loo, and were worried about missing the start while queing for the solo ladies, however we found a whole row of porta loos later) and joined the throng of 10k runners to start the race.
George, our host the previous night, was the race organiser and announcer. It looked like a pretty stressful job as people tried to join the start line from the wrong direction…why do people get so angry when caught doing the wrong thing?
There were a lot of Brits out running, with Gosport and Swindon running clubs well represented, and the familiar patterns of plenty of other running club vests from around the UK and Europe.
After a brief uphill start, we turned the corner and ran past some ancient ruins, and out onto the Main Street alongside the water.
Anna’s been struggling with a dodgy knee and only completed 8K in the lead up to the race, so we both planned to take it slow. I ran watchless, and just recorded the run on my Strava (‘Charlie Runner Beans’ if you wanted to follow me there).
The race starts out a little congested, so speedy runners would definitely want to get to the front of the pack, however it soon spread out. The route itself was really flat, with only two slight inclines on the out and back course. It followed the main road through town which was closed to cars, although not cyclists.
There was a water station at the 3K mark, with bottles of water handed out by the friendly and encouraging volunteers. We enjoyed the music and cheering from the pockets of spectators. Apparently 140 of the volunteers were British expats living out there.
Mostly the views were of hotels and restaurants along the main Paphos strip (there is a lot of building work going on ahead of the summer season), but it’s lovely when you break free of the strip and make it out to the fields. I imagine you’d have a lot more of the pretty views during the half and full marathons.
Anna’s knee started hurting so she stopped to stretch and walk, and I ran towards the finish. My legs didn’t feel as fresh as they had last week in Tokyo, but the lungs felt great.
I finished in around 57 minutes, and grabbed my medal, water and some fruit, then went to cheer Anna to the finish.
The only thing that I did see cause some chaos was the finish, when there were the 5K walkers (with their dogs), 10K runners and fast half marathoners all finishing together. Anna, who had walked from the 8K mark, nearly got charged out of the way by a half marathoner. I wonder whether they should have had signs encouraging the slower runners/walkers on to the right hand side and speedsters on the left?
This moment made me cry with happiness – I LOVE race finish lines!
As we were walking back to the hotel to shower, we spotted Adam, a Brit over with us to run the race, finishing the marathon in first place. We’re not sure if he ran a course record but he finished in a very speedy 2.45!
After an iced coffee and shower, Anna and I went to walk along the promenade and found a lovely local restaurant for a traditional lunch.
This race was awesome and I’ll definitely be back next year (probably with Tom in tow) for a long London marathon training run. I think I’d do the half marathon, adding on an extra couple of miles before/after to complete the 16-18 or so miles that are usually on the plan at this stage. It would make the ideal race-cation for runners of all levels, we saw groups that had friends running in each of the races.
It’s such a great price and you get so much race stash. We had buffs in our kit bags which are my favourite – wish more races gave these out. Plus race t-shirts and a fluoro vest which will come in very handy in the dark mornings and when I start cycling to the station again.
Next time I’ll be there for the full 4 days though, 2 days was just not enough time!