I came to Africa with hope I can run 2 marathons: Casa & Tangier. Online registration for foreigner costs $35.04, it’s much cheaper for locals. In Europe, I payed $15 – $100 per run, so I wasn’t expecting “wow service” in Casablanca. I’m happy my dreams some true! Casa is done!
On registration I got T-shirt & cap with a cheap. No map. No GPS track for marathon available. With so many turns I was afraid to get lost. Talked to a guy who proposed organizes to be a pacemaker, but they didn’t make a deal. He said about 3k gonna run semi, but only 100 participants for marathon. My biggest fear was i’m gonna get lost in Casa, locals gonna catch & eat me! I’ve heard in Africa people eat each other))) My friend Othman said “Stay cool, just say you’re ultramarathoner”. Not sure if it matters if someone wants to eat you =)
I didn’t get lost, no one tried to eat me, so Casa is safe! A few motorcyclists & car drivers tried to hit me, but i’m quick! They failed! It’s partly a problem of marathon (not all roads were closed), but a relationship between drivers & pedestrians. You don’t respect each other in Morocco =) My biggest fear was safety one. Everything was great! A lot of police, nice people even if we didn’t understand each other.
My friend Yahya told me to take own gels, because semi runners gonna eat everything on the way. Well, none of us had food after all, but I was prepared for that! In Europe, usually we have water, coca-cola or isotonic, sugar, chalk & bananas on the run. In Morocco you have only water, each 3-5 km I was able to take a bottle or two. Probably Moroccans don’t like sugar & bananas, so it’s a cultural issue, not marathon one.
In the morning, I woke up & decided to take a 5-km walk to marathon village, visiting Casaport on the way to buy coffee. Luckily, Starbucks was open at 6:30. BTW it was the only place with coffee on the way. In the village I didn’t find 2 essential things: luggage stand & toilet. I just took for granted that these two are always present. My problem. Running with backpack 40 km is uncomfortable, but toilet was a bigger issue. After seeing many people going pee in the streets I had to do it by myself. That was the worst thing i’ve done on the run. Shit happens. It’s much harder for girls & I’m happy to be a man))) In backpack I had coca-cola for drinking after the finish, but it was so good to drink it on the run! I’m a trail runner, so I have experience running with backpack, but a different kind one.
I love to run marathons in single lap, you can discover the city you’re in. I’ve seen Casa center & there’s no need in walking downtown! I’m here for the first time, so I’m curious about the city. I made lots of photos & seen a few ambulance cars on the way, so they were present, just hidden between houses.
As I understand, roads were closed for 8 – 11 a.m., so I had to fight with cars for a line the last hour. Well, you motivate to finish in 3 hours! Good motivation, but not all of us can do that! At least, all of the tunnels were closed on my run, so it’s fine. I had to wait on many corners to cross the street but since I had cramps, I used this time for rest.
Police was on most of corners, even when all the volunteers disappeared after 11 am. Safety over all! Nice option, i’ve haven’t seen so many officers in Europe. When you’re for the first time in the country & city, surrounded by people that don’t understand English in general, police officers give you the feel of security. Without volunteers in the streets it’s really hard to find a route. Thanks for the arrows on the road! I had to be more attentive on the run, so I was able to see more of beautiful city of Casa! My Garmin with GPS was consistent with markup til 35th km, but I crossed the line with 40 km logged, probably I missed a turn, but I have a PR! Thanks, volunteers, for leaving your places for the new PR!
On my last trail ultramarathon it was even worth since certified run is 55 km with 3500 m elevation gain, but committee changed it to 60 km with 4000 m elevation gain, but ITRA points were given for the certified run! Shit happens! Get used to that! At the end, you’ll remember how beautiful it was, and problems would be gone!
I got medal for 10 km run. Too bad, I was disappointed, but everyone had same medal after all: those, who run 10, 21, 42 km. At least, I finished in good time & I received medal! I’ve heard not everyone was so lucky! On the photo of my medals you can see “55 km Endurance Trail”. But medal is for triathlon! Sometimes organizes do that. Check second medal from the left on image below
I’ve done the race in 3:43 according to Strava, but one of the arches was about to leave =) I’m not sure if people finishing in 5 hours (official limit) could cross the finish line with the arch. According to comments some of the participants found no one at the finish line. No one to greet you, give you water, medal, no one at all. I’m really lucky it didn’t happen to me!
I didn’t find myself in the list of official finishers. Neither bib nor my name. So track in Garmin & Strava is the only thing can prove I did participate! Usually I don’t put certificates on the wall, but since I have medal for 10 km, it could be really good to have a certificate to prove you’ve done it!
It was my first marathon in Africa. I was afraid to make. it I’m happy that i’ve done it! I finished with a new PR! It was the toughest city run of my life, but I didn’t give up, and crossed the finish line! I wanna thank participants & organizers for it! We take good organization for granted, but it’s not! We should thank volunteers for efforts anyway.
These are my medals of the last 2 months. You’ll forget the bad, but the toughest runs you will remember rest of your life! As of now, Ultra Trail in Carpathians 60 km & Casa marathon were the hardest ones, so I’ll remember them rest of my life! I’m proud to be a finisher of these races! Stay positive!