For some time I have dreamed of traveling at high speed along a race track. Smelling the burnt rubber. Feel the wind on my face. Feel the adrenaline flow through my body. Feel the heart beat faster. Today, my dream came true.
Today, I wet myself in the support of multiple sclerosis. No, not in that sense. I took part in the race Mulla’t i corre per l’esclerosi múltiple — Wet yourself and run to support multiple sclerosis. It seems to be common here in Catalonia to wet oneself for a good cause. I am not entirely sure in which sense they do it or what sort of wetness is involved. All I know is that in my case the wetness was sweat — and according to the weather forecast perhaps a bit of rain.
Before I could start my sweating for a good cause I had to find the race track. The track was no other than the famous Circuit de Catalunya — the home of the yearly F1 Spanish Grand Prix. I took the train to Montmeló and continued on foot searching of the track. Despite my qualifications in the field of orientation I managed to find the track without problems. Well, without serious problems. It took me a while to find the right entrance but I managed to find it well in time for the race.
Having picked up my race number I went straight for the warm-up. I jogged through one of the garages, out into the pit-lane and from there onto the track itself.
Yesterday I had said to myself that running on an official F1 racing circuit would probably be an ideal venue for improving my personal best. I mean, racing circuits are completely flat, aren’t they? Well, apparently they are not. It is obviously a long time since I have watched the F1 Spanish Grand Prix. It did not take me a long warm-up run to find out that the Catalan circuit is not flat. Far from it. I decided however that this would not impact my plan to set a new personal best. I was on a race track. It must have a good effect.
At 10 o’clock the race started. The participants started their 10 kilometer long journey along the circuit — two laps and a bit. The group moved through the curves of the circuit like a big snake. The race switched between being slightly uphill or slightly downhill. There was more overtaking than when F1 cars race through the circuit. Thus it was much more exciting than an F1 race. I wonder why the spectators did not show up in large numbers!
The weather was nice for long distance running. The sun was shining in the beginning. As the race progressed the clouds started piling up. With about two kilometers to go until the finish line, the clouds had become black. It was time for the classic F1 question: Will it remain dry? Or will it start to rain? I hand hardly finished asking these questions when the answer came. The rain started to pour down.
I hoped I would be able to reach the finish line before the safety-runner would enter the circuit to slow the runners down before they started to loose their grip in the corners, fly off the track, over the gravel and at run at full speed in tho the piles of tires.
The finish line came closer. The rain got harder. When I ran past the entrance to the pit-lane I wondered if I should go for a service break, have an energy drink and switch from running shoes to rubber boots. However, since I had only 500 meters to go until I reached the finish line I decided to risk that the running shoes would get me there safely — despite the rain.
The strategy worked. I crossed the finish line. I was close to beating my best time. I crossed the finish line in 49:12 minutes. Two seconds faster than three weeks ago. One second slower than my personal best. The same seems to hold for long distance running as the Formula 1 — every second counts.
In sum, running on an F1 racing circuit is a nice change from the more traditional street races. Last but not least, the next time I watch the F1 Spanish Grand Prix I can rightfully say: “Bah! Been there. Done that.” Well, at least the “been there” part.