Arturo Casado and Jesús España, European 1,500 and 5,000 metres champions, respectively, will give their all in the 10 km race at the Rock ’n’ roll Madrid Marathon this Sunday, 28 April. Who will be the first to cross the finish line? I was with them the other day in El Retiro Park and, although they are good friends, they do take some snipes at each other.
Arturo says that when he’s about to reach the line he hopes he doesn’t see Jesús there. Jesús answers with a laugh and say yes, he will sprint if they are together right at the end. This Sunday, the marathon, half marathon and 10K race will make Madridlook like a vast Olympic stadium. And I say Olympic stadium even though right now the Olympic Games are just a dream for Jesús, Arturo and many other of Madrid’s people, all wishing that 2020 sees the Olympic torch being lit here.
Even if you’re not going to run, it is worth making the effort to be on Madrid’s streets, where, all along the length of the route, twenty rock bands chosen by Kiss FM will enliven the public and the athletes, around 4,000 of whom are foreigners from 71 different countries. So Arthur and Jesus are not going to have it easy, and as well as those competing directly against them, thousands of other runners will also reach the line (last year more than 9,000 finished). They tell me they know Madrid really well and have run in El Retiro Park hundreds of times. Nevertheless, the challenge is the same for everyone.
Until a few days ago whenever I heard the word athlete, the first thing I’d imagine would be something like a monumental, cold, white, marble sculpture. Obviously, this shows that before meeting Jesús España and Arturo Casado I did not know much about the subject, because now, if I had to talk about what it means to be an athlete, the first thing I would say is that they are special human beings, because they take their capacity for physical effort to its limits. These lads live for sport and talk to you about running thousands of metres as if it were normal for everyone. Reader, perhaps you are also an athlete, but for me this has been a real discovery. If you were to see them in ordinary clothes on an underground train, you would not notice them, but when they are in motion they tear through the air and the ground seems to shake as they pass. They are the nearest thing I have known – or will ever know, I think – to heroes.
Who will be the first to cross the finish line? We will find out next Sunday at the Rock ’n’ Roll Madrid Marathon, which starts at 9 am from Plaza de Colón.