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Valencia Half Marathon: 25 years of tradition and change

16 July, 2015

What were you doing in 1988? This was the year that, for the first time, Valencians started talking about half marathons. This year Valencia celebrates 25 years of half marathoning. If you count back to 1988 you will notice the years add up to 27, not 25. The first race was 27 years ago, and in reality it wasn’t a half marathon… confused? Read on?

In 1988 the first 20K sponsored by Adidas was held in Valencia. It wasn’t a marathon, and it wasn’t 25 years ago. Between 1993 and 1995 the half marathon did not go ahead due to reasons outside of the control of the organizers, Adidas continued to sponsor the event and included Valencia in its 20K roster. The format changed when, in 2005, the race became an official half marathon. The Valencian circuit was officially measured as 21.097 meters by the Spanish Athletics Association and the IAAF.

The race first started out in the West of the city, the opposite side to where the race is now held. In 2009 the race was moved over to the East of the city to take advantage of the port and the spectacular City of Arts and Sciences.

After 25 editions of the Valencian Half Marathon, we can see that running has completely changed. Back in the day, Kelme and Paredes were the Spanish brands on runners’ feet; these days they are distant memories. Asics, Mizuno and Adidas have the market cornered using the highest levels of technology.

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It’s not only running that has changed, the biggest change Spain has experienced is going from the Peseta to the Euro. You will still find the odd grandparent grumbling about how things were cheaper in the good old days! A good way to refresh yourself after a late 80s marathon was to down a liter of Coca cola. In 1988 a liter cost only 80 cents, and half a liter now is 50 cents.

After a grueling Half Marathon, and feeling a bit sick after all that coke, you might want to sit down and relax; why not go to the cinema? At the box office you could buy tickets for 2-3 Euros (and have change for popcorn!) and watch Die Hard, Willow or Beetlejuice. Now a trip to the cinema to watch Jurassic Park 3d will cost you at least 7.50€ and if you add popcorn to that you are going to spend 11 Euros easily.

To get to the cinema or to go home you would have had to flag down a taxi, as there was no metro system in Valencia in 1988. Now many people would rush home to look at the results of the marathon on the Internet, or in recent years just whip out a smartphone and get the info from a marathon app. In 1988 the only interaction you had with a computer was with your Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum with their charming but frustrating 20 minute load times for the cassettes!!

Even the date of the event has changed. The half marathon used to be held in May. Since 2009 the event has been held in October to coincide with the end of the running season

The Valencian Half Marathon has seen the times of the winner improve dramatically over the years. In 2001 the best male time was 1:01:43 ran by the winner Julio Rey. In Half Marathon Valencia Trinidad Alfonso last year’s edition (2014) Abraham Cheroben shaved 3 minutes off that time by running a 58:48 race, this was the sixth fastest half marathon of all time. Not only has the woman’s winning time been reduced by 20 minutes over the years, but Valencia also has massive participation from women, surpassing 1000 women runners last year. As for times, Teresa Garcia ran a 1:25:36 race in 2001. Last year Emily Chebet Muge demolished that time by running the 21K in just 1:08:01

How things change, eh?

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