About us

Sandbach Striders was born back in 2003. Since the early days, membership has grown with a firm ethos of the club being not just about running but social activities as well. The club is affiliated to UK AAA and has its own qualified coaches. Many other special events take place on various nights too.

The club meets on Wednesdays at 18:30 and Sundays at 09:00 at Elworth Cricket Club.

Whilst many members compete in races from 5k to Marathons, the emphasis remains purely on keeping people motivated and having fun. Why not scan through our race reports to see what we’ve been up to? Having read them, you’re sure to see why Sandbach Striders has developed the motto of being

"No Ordinary Running Club!"

Monday, 28 November 2011

Race Report: Valencia Marathon 27/11/2011

The 31st Valencia Marathon, now named the Divina Pastora* Marathon, is one of the highlights of the Spanish road racing calendar. It has recently moved to November to improve the chances of more favourable weather for running and they have also moved the start and finish to the architecturally stunning Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences).

(* "Divine Shepherdess" - the name given to the image of the Virgin Mary)

Near the start and finish at La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias.
The race started at 9:00am on Sunday morning with both a Marathon and a 10k due to start simultaneously although running along different routes. There were around 6,000 marathon runners and the start was a little chaotic as runners battled to try and get to be near their pace setter. This was made difficult by the bridge which held the runners being divided into sections far too small to hold the requisite number of runners. Also the pace setters were not quick enough, getting into their position until minutes before the gun. Soon the gun did go off, which was quickly followed by a volley of fireworks and although the start was cramped the pack soon spread out. Although there was a bit of weaving around slower runners I didn't really feel like I was being held up by others nor holding up any faster runners.

Post-race, pre-beer.
The route weaved in and around the City and we got to run past many of the sites and attractions of Valencia. Support was vocal from the locals and there was a varied and regular selection of local musicians lining the route. One thing that really stood out in my mind was the firemen along the route at strategic points with their tenders and hoses spraying runners with a gentle mist of cool water. This was most welcome on what was a warm, sunny day and it was nice to see the fireman show their support by shouting and cheering as loud as any of the spectators.

Water stops were every 5k-ish and were enthusiastically if not wholly efficiently administered by local youth groups. There wasn't anything in the way of food but bottled water and small cups of Powerade were in plentiful supply.

Looking down the (final) finish straight.
The only disappointing part of the race for me was the finish, or rather the final 1km. As we passed the 41km marker I could see two gantries in the distance. I knew these weren't the ones on the finish lines because looking at the route in the pre-race brochure, I could see the organisers had routed us back through the starting line before we turned a corner to the finish straight. As we passed over the start another gantry came into view and I spotted a couple of runners ahead of me slow down to a stop once they had passed through it. This was not the finish however. In fact the finish did not come until after another two corners and another four gantries. I don't mind telling you that I crossed the finish line more-or-less a broken man and it took everything I had to keep going down the final finish straight. Somehow I managed to struggle over the line 9 seconds quicker than my previous pb, so all in all it was a good day at the office :-)

Would I do the race again? Perhaps. I'd certainly have no problem in recommending it to others. Valencia is an attractive city with enough things to see and do to keep anyone occupied for at least a few days. My hotel was reasonably priced considering it's (deserved) four star status. Flights were cheap via RyanAir from Stansted (I've also heard a rumour that in 2012 they are starting a new route from Manchester.) Getting from the airport to the centre of town via the Metro was cheap, fast and easy to negotiate. Race entry was €40 for early entrants rising to around €60 for last minute entries which is certainly not too bad value considering the big city feel of the event and the number of freebies.

The Marathon start bridge - 10k start bridge is just to the left.

I've run in several Spanish marathons and in my experience they tend to look after runners very well. Valencia was no exception. In the pre-race goody bag there was to be found:

  • Technical t-shirt
  • Snood
  • Baseball Cap
  • Boot bag
  • Energy gel
  • Cereal bar
  • Orange
  • And the usual array of leaflets, race magazine (in Spanish) and an international running magazine (in English)
There was also a voucher for a free pasta meal which was served al fresco in the nearby park gardens surrounding the Expo. This entitled each runner to a pre-packed pasta meal (no veggie option though sadly), a bottle of water, an orange and a can of beer.

At the end of the race, we received yet another goody bag which contained a decent sized hand towel, a banana, tangerine, a bag of oranges (it is Valencia afterall... ), a bottle of water, and some biscuits. There was also free massages, water, Powerade and beer in the finishing enclosure.

As you can see from the photos, the weather was fantastic. All weekend barely a cloud troubled the glorious bright blue sky. During the race the temperature peaked at 21°c and afterwards the warmth made for a very pleasant afternoon dining in the nearby park whilst enjoying my free goody-bag beer.

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