If you’re like me and watch a marathon on TV from start to finish looking for watches, sneakers, carb jelly, heart rate monitor, and stride speed whenever you go for a run, I’ve got good news for you.
After individual training and postponement of virtual races and races, marathons in Europe are back for real.
In September, Berlin had fans and about 30 thousand participants from 139 countries. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele came in third, frustrating those who were hoping for a world record and seeing his compatriot Gui Adola take the lead. The world’s fastest official mark, 2:01:39 by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who did not run, remains the same. But seeing so many people on the streets seems to have been the biggest victory.
Last Sunday (3) the London Marathon left the English capital happier, 889 days after the last edition with both general and amateur runners. The crowd was cheering not only for elite competitions –It was won by Ethiopian Sesay Lima and Kenyan Joycelyn Gipkosgei– But for more than 40,000 participants.
Street racing is a good measure of the health of a country. With nearly 85% of the UK population over 16 years old being fully vaccinated, vaccinations for teens and boosters for seniors going, life here in England is pretty much normal. There are almost no restrictions, the number of deaths from coronavirus is low, the football fields are full, it is easier to travel.
The English love the London Marathon. They carry posters and flags and wear costumes. Now, they returned to the street without fear.
I am the classic example of a person bitten by a racing bug. In my case, the 5km ran 10km, 21km, until I got to a marathon, which was in Paris, in 2012. About 30km, when the body in some marathon runners for the first time shows signs of wanting to stop and It’s the president that rules, I heard “Marsa Alize!”.
A stranger read my name on the shirt and wanted to cheer me up. I have never forgotten that voice, although I don’t remember the face. There was a lot on the way. It’s amazing how many people are willing to stand for hours rooting for strangers. Running brings a sense of togetherness that I rarely see in my life.
Running increases my discipline and flexibility, and makes my body strong, my mind alert, and creative. I am lucky because I love a sport whose great idol is an example of a human being. Kipchoge, the only one on the planet to run a marathon in under two hours, is talented, humble and charismatic.
I had the privilege of covering the Berlin and London races and the 2016 Olympics and interviewing the Kenyan several times after the finish line. In the calm voice of someone who seemed to have just come out of a relaxing spa, he was always talking about his passion for what he does. Kipchoge smiles when he struggles at the end of the race because it helps him deal with the pain. How can I not love him?
With the pandemic far from over, the future of marathons cannot be determined, but it looks promising. Chicago, Boston and New York are right there, with fans and thousands of runners. For those who watch it on TV or live stream, it’s even more exciting.
Those who live in other parts of the world and wish to compete in these tests can be optimistic, because travel is possible again for those who are vaccinated. If you are one of them and you want an incentive, you can get the training sheet and sneakers out of your closet.
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