Or, more officially, Carrera Popular “La Melonera” 2012. Not only did this race qualify as my first race ever on foreign soil, but it also means I get to cross another thing of my 23 before 24 list!
So a little bit of the backstory… This race used to be free, but as “la crisi” (read: colloquial term for Spain’s current economic woes) knows no bounds, organizers had to collect a nominal fee of 6€ per participant. (I happily obliged.) The race is part of a weekend-long festival in Arganzuela, the southwest district known for its large park. According to the Spaniards with whom I ran, the festival started as a celebration of the melon harvest when that area of town used to be the perimeter of rural life. As a celebratory measure – for both the harvest and the run- runners received a slice of the most delicious, why-do-we-not-have-this-in-the-States melon after crossing the finish line. Much to my delight, some traditions have not changed despite la crisi. Seeeeeee???
The heat was enough to make this Chicagoan want to crawl into a cave and never come out. Who in the world starts a race at 18:30 when it’s still 34+ degrees (C) outside? Seriously. The Spaniards didn’t seem to notice too much. Life. But some mid-race cursing and 10k’s later, I crossed the finish line with a still respectable time and after chugging as much water as I could get my hands on, gladly sunk my teeth into this: