Marathon of San Fermín Pamplona


Yesterday we went to the marathon of Pamplona and it was absolutely epic. The objective of the marathon is to finish it no matter what, regardless the time it takes to get it done. The important thing is to finish it. And so we did.

The organization is a ten for everything they did, the way they treated us at all times, already anticipated the great difficulties of the path to a wheelchair that we would find. Friends from Navarra had previously explored the land and had even sent us images showing us the difficulties. Most of the route is on a quite impracticable terrain for wheelchairs: cobbles, rough asphalt, dirt roads, gravel. There was even a slope of about 200 meters of length, the “Portal de Francia”, so steep that even runners who weren’t pushing any wheelchair had to walk it. Wanting to do the marathon in Pamplona with a wheelchair, can only be understood by illusion and stubbornness, ignoring all warnings.

And the result was a desperate struggle to reach the goal as the only objective of the night. We started well: the first half of the marathon was done with a time of 1h33min. But the pace was, perhaps, another typical rookie mistake in competitions. From this, we’ll try to learn to appreciate better the difficulties and dose efforts. The fact is that the second round turned into hell. The effort made in the first round to maintain a "normal" pace despite the bad ground under our feet, having to lift the wheelchair by the rear wheels to overcome irregularities and roughness in more than halfway, an unconscious effort to overcome the brake caused by the ground drained the energy reservoir. And over km 34 the body simply gave up and had to stop. The brain only cursed and feared the rest of the tour and took the most sensible decision: to quit. The test had exceeded the limits of our abilities. The stiff legs could not make another step. The lungs were not sufficiently aired and there was no possible recovery from suffocation. The heart was about to explode. I had to accept the reality and take a taxi back to the hotel. And yes, I stopped. I no longer ran. I needed air.

Atena then told me: “calm down, if we don’t make a record, nothing will happen”.

And yes, we were there for her. We had gotten into the impossible to fight against all challenges, not only to reach a goal. And since I was drinking water, eating fruit, filling the lungs with oxygen, we started talking about Pheidippides. How can you do a marathon without having trained and after a battle with the Persians? But he did it. “And he died on the arrival”, reminded me Atena. But he finished. There were still 8 km left. By foot it would take two more hours. But Atena didn’t mind. And even if there’d be three hours left... were we thinking on continuing? Didn’t we agree that there was nothing to do?

I thought about “Terminator”. When he was destroyed he sought for an alternative source of energy. And something similar must have happened since after looking for a reason to continue in the game, we resumed the march, gently, turning to walk when the terrain became impossible, but we kept moving ahead without hesitation without knowing whether we would make it or not to the end. Many runners passed us and encouraged us. Atena, grateful, realized what we were doing: the impossible. But if it had not been for her, I would not have gone a step further.

On the slope of the Portal de Francia a young spectator helped us up to get Atena to the top and, once we were there, as in the old quarter of Pamplona, just one km away from the goal,  crowds motivated us to speed up with their encouragement and cheers of joy. It was great, Atena greeted everyone, happy as a sandboy and I, one of science mysteries, could run as if it were the first km. The entry into the bullring, where "bull runs" take place, was lovely. The rest of Team Atena welcomed us with hugs. And even the organization gave the marathon champion bouquet to Atena. Thanks champion! Nice gesture. I was excited because, we arrived, whether it had been easy or not. Perhaps more battered than ever, but that is why, it was more epic than ever.

And that’s how sometimes, the impossible becomes possible.