My understanding of marathons is extremely limited and goes something like this: at some point, there's a lot of applause and cheering and since the Barcelona Marathon usually happens on Sundays, the noise wakes me up. I make myself a cup of coffee and stand on my balcony in my pajamas and watch the runners come down the street. I cheer them on and clap and for some reason seeing masses of people running together makes me feel good. I particularly like the ones who don't run very fast and come in towards the end. I always cheer extra loudly for them.
When I was asked to write a post about the marathon, however, I realised that I basically don't know anything about it. The idea of voluntarily running 42km through the city strikes me as completely mad. Given that the Barcelona Marathon has been around for 33 years and people run marathons all over the world, there must be something about it that I just don't get.
I decided to call my friend Marc, who often talks about marathons and likes to go running on Montjuic, to get a more knowledgeable take on all of this. He began by explaining that he'd done one marathon so far, but hurt his knee at km 30 and so only really ran the first half and limped the second. He's keen on running the Barcelona Marathon one day and plans to start training. I asked him why.
"I like endurance sports," he replied, "There are no winners and no losers. It's not really competitive. You get to test yourself."
He also explained the advantages of testing yourself in a safe, organised setting where people give you water and take care of you and doctors are on hand rather than doing it all alone in the wild.
"Plus you get a free t-shirt," he added.
His reasons made sense to me, and it got me wondering about why other people run marathons. For many it is a true passion - they'll even travel to run marathons in other cities and countries. Until recently, I'd never considered the notion of "marathon tourism", but apparently it is very popular. I'd love to hear from marathon runners about why you took up the sport. Is it about testing your endurance levels, like Marc? Is there a charitable aspect involved? Have you travelled to run marathons? What makes that so special? Is it about camaraderie, friendly competition, seeing a city in a different way? Post your comments and thoughts! I'd love to stand on my balcony this year, cheering the runners on, and actually know a little bit more about what I'm watching.
The Barcelona Marathon takes place in March every year.