Race Report: Tirana Half Marathon


Rather belated “Race” Report

Two weeks ago I took part in the Tirana Half Marathon in Albania, where we were on holiday.  I thought I’d wait for the race results before writing a report but they’re still not up on the website. (Në pritje të rezultateve finale…Waiting for the final results)! So I don’t know who won what (there was a Full marathon, a 10K and a fun run too) and don’t have an official time!  It’s no great surprise as I’ve never done a race where the organisers provided so little information. After entering online and getting confirmation months ago there was nothing further until the night before when they sent a link to a photo app (which just displayed a few random photos after the race). The expo was advertised as being open from the Thursday prior to the race but it wasn’t set up until late Friday. None of this was a problem however as we were staying just around the corner from the start, so I didn’t have far to go to collect my bib.

It’s hard to say how many entrants there were without seeing the finishers list but, for a capital city marathon, it didn’t look very big. (One report suggests there 4000+ runners had entered.) I was astonished to see that there were just two portaloos at the start; but even more amazing was the fact that there weren’t big queues for them.  Albanians must have iron bladders!

It was an interesting route and a great way to see a bit more of the city.  It started in Skanderbeg Square, zig-zagged up and down a number of city centre streets, went out to a lovely loop around the lake on the outskirts of the city before returning to the centre and the finish. The race route was manned by an incredible number of police officers, but they were pretty ineffectual as people ignored their instructions and whistles and surged across the roads in front of the runners.  There was a smattering of spectators, but most people were intent on going about their business, so there wasn’t a great deal of support. My husband popped up a few times to give me a cheer, which provided much-needed encouragement.

It was pretty flat so I can’t complain about hills but I did find it much too hot (mid-high 20’s) and struggled over the last few miles.  I felt really sorry for the people doing the full marathon as they had to do two laps and a lot of them looked like they were struggling on the first lap.  Towards the end of my race, I was puzzled to see someone on a bike training their camera on me….until two rangy African runners sprinted past on either side of me! There was no lead car but presumably, these were the winners of the marathon.

According to my Garmin, I finished in 2:19:51, not quite my PW but close! The organisers had laid on some nice on-course entertainment with a couple of stages with singers and also one with dancers in national costume.  I did linger to watch a bit of the dancing as I had given up any idea of recording a decent time! It’s hard to prepare properly when on holiday so I looked on the event as more of a sightseeing opportunity than a race.