My return to Marrakech was labelled a race-cation, but we all know the real reason I went back- FOMO and Berber carpets. A group of friends from Vicenza was planning to run the marathon or the half, and of course I do not like to be left out of group athletic activities. After my last visit, I had serious regrets about not buying more crafts, and then every time one of my friends came back with a beautiful, fluffy, colorful Berber rug that FOMO reared its head again. So here I was, headed out for a long weekend with 11 other people in Marrakech!
We rented out an entire riad which was perfect. Plenty of bathrooms and plenty of space to retreat when individual space was needed. The highlight of the riad was Small Cat, who was so friendly and fun! She joined us in many activities, such as reading, lounging, and snuggling. Her diet appeared to be leftover cous cous and raw eggs, so I was sure to supplement the obligate carnivore with kebabs.
Our group spent a lot of time just wandering around. I enjoyed this experience much more than my previous visit, partially because I am a much more experienced traveller, but also because going with a group spreads out the stress of shopping in a souk. Several of my friends were expert hagglers and watching them negotiate was entertaining. I kept my eyes out for my dream Berber rug, and found it several times. Logic prevailed and I decided that maybe a giant white fluffy carpet is not the best for my 4 pet household. Same with the beautiful metalwork chandelier. Maybe one day when I have a permanent home and place for it to hang. So I settled for a couple of lamps, a leather pouf, a basket, a candle holder, and some pillowcases.
Since the purpose of our trip was a race, I suppose I should talk about that. Summary: worst race of my life! 100% my own fault- it is not easy to have a good half marathon when you have only been running once per week. My shoes kept coming untied (which has never happened once before!), I formed a huge blister, my hamstrings and calves were crampy, and I didn’t find water on course until after the 10k mark. It was just a mess. Life lesson learned- training is important.
The course itself wound through the city and some of the large gardens. At this time of year they were mostly full of olive trees with nothing else blooming. The course was spectator friendly and full of smiling faces, with lots of little kids lining up for high fives. No Port-A-Potties in sight for the whole thing, which could be a disaster if someone really needed one. Oranges and water at aid stations, but the first couple stations were out of water. I was really hot, because somehow I had forgotten a tank top and wore a borrowed long sleeve tee. If I had been anywhere else I would have ditched the shirt, but I wanted to respect the local culture. Speaking of, there were several women running in hijab.
Race etiquette- terrible. Is it just me or does everyone besides me like to walk or run slow on the left? One of our group ran with her two kids in a stroller, which was a new sight to most people in Marrakech. She got the most high fives and cheers out of anyone!
The other runners were very friendly and we took pictures with some of them afterwards. Most locals were proud to show off their city and were anxious that we enjoyed ourselves. I would recommend this as a race-cation destination for sure.
After the race, I grabbed a Coke (my favorite post race treat) and some homemade potato chips from a street cart. YUM. Then it was time to be lazy on the rooftop terrace in the sunshine for the rest of the afternoon.
More posts to come about our food tour as well as the day trip to the High Atlas Mountains! Stay tuned.