EILAT DESERT MARATHON 2018: FROM NEGEV MOUNTAINS TO RED SEA BEACH. ABEL DE FRUTOS TELLS US HOW IT WENT (4H30).

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Eilat Desert Marathon 2018 has finished! 3000 runners for the 8th edition in the city of Eilat in Israel. Have you ever think about running a marathon in the desert? This is your oportunity, in the rocky Negev desert and having the chance to swim in the Red Sea beach just after getting your finisher medal, do you wanna miss? Several races 10k-21k-42k and and incredible ratio of women in the race (about 40%). The CEO of Marathon Israel tells us how this race was created and his vision.

 

 

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EILAT DESERT MARATHON: BEFORE THE RACE

 

Tired of running in your country? Have you thought about running abroad? We think this is an unique opportunity to discover new mountains, habits and people. And that’s what we’re doing these days. On Tuesday November 27, we flew from Madrid to Eilat, with a short stop in Tel Aviv arriving at around 8:00pm. Since the sun goes down soon early in late November (around 5:00pm), we had a quick dinner at the hotel after a brief tour around along the pier.

On Wednesday, Israel Ministry of Tourism had prepared a visit to Makhtesh Ramon for us, a huge hole in the earth shaped as a heart created in the Negev desert by the erosion of water when the sea was all over these lands creating the largest Natural Park in Israel, right there we could find a slot of the Israel National Trail that goes through Israel from south to north.

On Thursday, we visited Timna Park, park where the copper mines that Ramses III began to explode 6000 years ago, located 25 km from Eilat with an area of ​​60 square kilometers we could visit places like “The Mushroom”, “The Arches “, ” Solomon Pilars” or the Temple of Hathor where Ramses III made his offerings to this Egyptian god. In addition you can enjoy more than 25 trails, which you can do hicking or cycling.

During thursday afternoon, we went to get the bib number, attend the press conference and the race briefing, to finish the day in the “Pasta Party” that the organization offers to all runners free of charge. What was our surprise that we found the “THE BEST PARTY PASTA IN THE WORLD” and I have run 27 marathons. The buffet of the 4 restaurants of a 5 * hotel (“Club Hotel Eilat”, official hotel for the race) to be enjoyed by all the runners, very varied and rich food.

 

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EILAT DESERT MARATHON: THE RACE by ABEL DE FRUTOS

After the scheduled visits of the week, on Friday at 6am local time we were ready to run, for several reasons we slept not too much that night and physically I was not quite good because I had a contracture on the right soleo for more than a week even I visited the physio on Friday, the last runs we did in Eilat did not leave me very convinced as I was still having pain. Sergio was not much better, having problems in his knee and after running the 21k of the Ecotrail Madrid and the 42k of Villa la Angostura, along with the corresponding flight hours. Even so, after dressing up with the kit that Salomon provided for this race, we went to the start line, equipped to test Slab Ultra shoes the desert, Slab clothes and backpack as well as the Bonatti Pro jacket. Let’s go …

 

 

START: 6AM We arrived at 5:45 at the start line (both, our hotel and the organization are only 5 minutes from the start). The start is in the same area as the arrival, when we arrive there is an incredible party, just 15 minutes to start, most of the runners warming-up exercises and dancing following a coach, and just 5 minutes before 6am fences were opened for us to enter the corrals. First at 6AM 42km, followed by 21km and finally 10km runners. It would be great to have also an ultra in the desert, I am sure we would be here…

We are about 600 runners in the marathon of a total of about 3000 in all the heats and 1250 are women! a very high ratio if we compare it with any Spanish race. The marathon a 42.2k / D + 600m through trail on rocky terrain in general. Here maps for the three races.

 

 

Race starts! The first kilometers pass by a long road parallel to the sea, surprisingly I run at a pace of 5’/km which would be normal and after a few meters I look back and find out I have lost Sergio, I decide to continue like this to check myself but after 2-3 kilometers, I realize that this is not my pace. The soleo begins to hurt again and will not stop hurting until the end.

We do not pass onto the desert until 5k, sun goes up and we get a fantastic cloudy day in front of us as the temperature is great. We do have water stations every 3 kilometers which makes our lives much easier, I must say that the water stations are fantastic, cold water and plenty of food, which you will not find in in any other races.

Between 5k and 7k I get the first mini-crisis. The soleo is hurting me a lot and I’m tired because I did not sleep too much, so I think about retiring, furthermore until the 14th kilometer it’s a continuous uphill and my legs will suffer a lot more, so I think I will not be able to finish, however  I decide to continue until the 14th and see how things are going and if the muscles improve.

From 12k to 27k approximately we enter in the the most beautiful area of ​​the race (in my honest opinion), we go into canyons, typical landscape of the Negev desert, roads full of loose rock that I find quite fun. Though the soleo continues hurting, in the 14k we make a 180 degree turn and on the way back I see that Sergio is not very far away from me, however, I feel good and as we have a large downhill in front of us, I decide to increase the pace.

The next kilometers are up-down hill until kilometer 34. From 29k to 33k the worst part of the race, an endless straight up hill line, no vegetation, sun starts raising, heat, and’the wall’ visits many runners, I start seeing people walking and running, my soleo hurts a lot.

At 33k, an Italian runner asks me how long we have been in the race (3h30), we chat for a while in Italian-Spanish about the marathons that we have done in the other country, and we run together almost the last 9k, downhill path so we take the opportunity raising the pace a little (not much), from 38k we enter a road along the Jordanian border where the last water stations managed by young people are spectacular, the kids do not stop chearing all the runners. Last two kilometers through the Eilat pier, we start seeing groups of people and families encouraging the runners to achieve the finish line, right at the edge of the sea. My final time was 4h30 . I put my medal on, and I wait for Sergio’s arrival who will finish in 4h44 official time. Both happy to finish the race!!!

 

 

SPECTACULAR ENDING PARTY: Afer resting at the hotel, we go to the ending party, that organization prepared for all runners hosted in Club Hotel Eilat. A video is showed about the races of the day ending with a very big dancing party.

I am very happy to finish my 27th marathon, it was not the best race, but I was able to manage all the bad thikings and my soleo, even though I woke up with my soleo in not a good shape. Now I will need to rest for a bit while I think which one will be de 28th. We will take the oportunity of do some more sightseeing and why not, dive with dolphins here… Looks like nice, doesn’t it? 

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EILAT DESERT MARATHON: PHOTO GALLERY

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MORE ON SKIMO, TRAIL RUNNING AND MOUNTAIN GEAR

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Info by Abel de Frutos for Trailrunningspain

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