Where to train for a marathon in Barcelona?

Barcelona is a big city, with a population of 1.6 million inhabitants (its metropolitan area has 4.5 million), living in a small urban area. Consequently, all the traffic and all the local citizens can be annoying for a runner. CNA presents possible routes and some tips for running across the Catalan capital.

Maik Wehlte

April 20, 2012 10:08 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- Running, is a sport which is becoming more and more popular all over the world. For over a decade the number of runners steadily increases. A huge array of professional journals deal with how to train for a Marathon and include a thousand training plans, appropriate clothes for your training depending on the weather conditions and magazines which deal with the food you have to eat to maximize your training success. All these things are important as a runner, the most important thing you have to do is: run! Barcelona is a big city with a population of 1.6 million inhabitants (its metropolitan area has 4.5 million), living in a small urban area. Consequently, all the traffic and all the local citizens can be annoying for a runner. You always have to wait, you have to be careful, and you cannot run as fast as you want, but simultaneously you want to visit all the different sights which Barcelona has to offer.

Basic rules of running in a city

A few basic rules exist which can be applied to big cities such as Barcelona:

  • Always use streets with a green traffic light. Barcelona is built on draught board patterns and is consequently easy to find the way back home
  • Avoid the city center, which means in Barcelona districts streets such as la Rambla
  • Combine your route with parks, it is less exhausting for your joints and has a better atmosphere
  • In peripheral districts is less traffic and less citizens which is good for long distance runs

A lot of runners choose general routes in the district of ‘Sants-Montjuic’, because there is less traffic and only a few tourists. Furthermore, you have an overview of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea from Montjuic hill. In addition, there are a lot of parks, which you can combine, for example the garden of ‘Joan Maragall’, which is above the Catalonia’s National Museum of Art (MNAC), the garden of ‘Laribal’ and the park known as ‘Mirador del Migdia’.

Another big location where you can run in Barcelona is the beach with its little docks. It depends on the starting point, but you have approximately six kilometers where you can run alongside the sea.

Sight running in Barcelona

The most famous route among runners in Barcelona starts at the ‘Plaça d’Espanya’ where you can see the Catalonia’s National Museum of Art, which has the most important collection of Romanesque Art in the world. Starting at ‘Plaça d’Espanya’ you run through the ‘Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes’, which is one of the major avenues in Barcelona, to the ‘Plaça de Tetuan’, where a big memorial to Bartomeu Robert is located. After the Tetuan Square, you have to run through the street ‘Passeig de Sant Joan’ from where you can see the Arc of Triumph. The monument was built for Barcelona’s first international exposition in 1888 and is one of Barcelona’s most impressive sights. After passing the Triumphal Arch, you run straight to Barcelona’s city park ‘Parc de la Ciutadella’. In this park we can find the Parliament of Catalonia and the city zoo. After the city park, you have to run alongside the outskirts of the city park to a further main avenue, called the ‘Carrer de la Marina’. You can run alongside the beach and the little docks up to ‘Plaça de la Carbonera’. This square is at the bottom of the avenue of the Parallel. On this street we can find many theatres and cabarets. After passing this street, you are back at your starting point of ‘Plaça d’Espanya’. This route comprises in total 12.5km.

A further sight running route is called the ‘Gaudí Tour’. On this route you will pass some of the most famous buildings of Antoni Gaudí, who was a Catalan architect and figurehead of Modernism (Art Nouveau). You have to run this route either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, because of the huge amount of tourists visiting these sights every day. The route has a total distance of approximately 15km and includes six different buildings built by Antoni Gaudí. What is special about this route is the alternation between upward and downward movements and you will get an alternation of a rapid and slow pulse rate. The starting point of this route is the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, or the Sagrada Familia. The church is still under construction, but is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the Sagrada Familia, you have to run to the boulevard ‘Passeig de Gràcia’ through the streets of ‘Carrer de Mallorca’ and ‘Avinguda Diagonal’, which is Barcelona’s broadest and most important avenue. At ‘Passeig de Gràcia’ we can find the house ‘Casa Milá’ better known as ‘La Pedrera’, which means ‘The Quarry’ and is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Subsequent to this house, you have to run along the ‘Avinguda Diagonal’ to the ‘Avinguda de Sarrià’ and afterwards you must pass the square called ‘Plaça de Prat de la Riba’. Then you take a street called ‘Passeig de Manuel Girona’, where Gaudí’s entrance gate called ‘Porta Miralles’ is located. You will see it on your right hand side. The fourth sight on this route is the Finca Güell. Gaudí organised and designed the park in 1883 and it shows a large Indian style residence. The next sight is the Bellesguard tower which means beautiful view in Catalan. The official name is ‘Casa Figueras’. You have to run through several streets to reach this sight. At first you have to follow the street ‘Carrer del Bisbe Català’, then the street ‘Carrer de les Escoles Pies’ and then the street called ‘Carrer de la Immaculada’. Take a look on the map and then, it is easy to find. If you visit this sight you will simultaneously see one of Barcelona’s universities. The last sight on this route is Parc Güell, which is also a world heritage site by UNESCO. Thus, you have to run straight down the street known as ‘Ronda del General Mitre’. By following this street, you will cross the square ‘Plaça de Lesseps’ which comes out in to the street ‘Travessera de Dalt’. You have to turn off this road at the street ‘Carrer de Larrard’ and following this street; you will see the big park. You are now at the front of the fifth sight. After your visit there, you have to run back to the street ‘Travessera de Dalt’. You have to follow this street which comes out in the street ‘Carrer de Sardenya’, by following this street you will be back at your starting point at the Sagrada Familia.

Zurich Marató Barcelona

The main running event in Catalonia is the Barcelona marathon. The Barcelona marathon exists since 1978 and got its present name in 2005. The 34th edition of the Barcelona marathon was held on Sunday March 25th with close to 20,000 participants, an all time record.

Calendar of next running events in Barcelona

22.04.2012 – Nike - Fireman's race Barcelona 2012 (Cursa Bombers 10k Run 2012)

19.05.2012 – La Pujada al Tibidabo (7km is a race up Tibidabo mountain)

10.06.2012 – Cursa Popular per la Integració La Maquinista Districte Sant Andreu (10km)

14.10.2012 – Garmin Barcelona Triathlon 2012