Thursday, April 11

Four hares to finish the Badajoz marathon

Running at the proper pace, sheltered from the wind, if any, and listening to a word of encouragement at all times greatly increases the chances of success in a race. This Sunday the marathon test returns to Badajoz on its usual date, the month of March. Raúl, Chema, Pepe and Víctor have almost 200 marathons between the four of them and will help finish several dozen runners within four days, spreading their experience. Chema Mateos, president of the Badajoz Marathon Club, says that in this 42-kilometer test that more and more people want to complete, you have to be alert at kilometer 31. Right there the bird appears and the runner collapses. In the itinerary of Badajoz it happens when the Puerta de Palmas is passed. «At that moment it is time to go through the Circunvalación (Reina Sofía avenue), you stop seeing the public and there is the feeling that you are moving away from the goal instead of approaching it and it is very hard. Later, precisely at the height of the HOY newspaper, you are already at kilometer 35 and you visualize the goal because you start running in the direction of the Fluvial walk and things are going better».

Mateos has already been through this situation several times and all this information will be shared again between gasps to the small swarm of runners who will follow in his footsteps, since this Sunday Mateos will once again be one of the four hares that the Municipal Sports Foundation will put to disposition of those registered. For the average (21 kilometers) there will be eight, each with a different arrival time.

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The uninitiated should know that each of these runners carries a banner with the expected time to finish the test, which requires maintaining a constant pace that not all of them manage to find.

Chema Mateos works as a prison officer, he is 55 years old, he has already done 64 marathons, the first in 2002 in Lisbon. «At that time it was not common for there to be hares, but they are a great help for those who are just starting out or looking for a brand because you give them confidence and set a pace, since some start very quickly and do not know what is going to happen several kilometers further there”. His best time is 2 hours 59 minutes and this Sunday he will run at 3 hours and 30 minutes.

«Novices usually go with me»

It is obvious that a hare – or ‘balloon’, since they used to wear one to make themselves visible, but it is very uncomfortable and now they carry banners – must have a mark that is loose enough to set the pace. Talking, encouraging his followers and even keeping gels and clothes in his backpack that some runners have left over becomes part of his mission.

Without a doubt, the most grateful position of the hare is the 4-hour one, the slowest of the four and whose banner Víctor Píriz has offered to carry, who has 12 marathons on his resume, the last one last month. It will be the sixth time of him acting as a hare.

Píriz is an economist and currently a deputy in Congress for the Popular Party. “I love playing the hare. Rookies usually go with me, people who aspire to finish the test and that is where there is more atmosphere, there is a lot of talk, you have to encourage, not go jerkily and not rush when the public applauds because then it can take its toll. The last time I carried this ‘balloon’ in November I ran with 25 people around, although I ended up with seven or eight because after kilometer 30 some already want to run their race according to their strength and when they approach the finish line they prefer to enter alone to have their own photo », describes this Badajoz who acted as a hare for the first time in 2018 in Seville in an improvised way to help finish a Citizen deputy who was going to start the test full of doubts.

The third hare of the marathon is José (Pepe) Fernández Blanco, the reference for those looking for the mark of 3 hours and 45 minutes. «I did my first marathon almost by chance in 1986 and now I’ve lost count, maybe thirty or so, the last one in Seville last month (3 hours 7 minutes). Now this sport has changed a lot, in my first marathon there were about 1,500 runners and now in that same event 15,000 join. I only act as a hare in Badajoz because I know people and I like to pass on the experience gained over the years,” explains this self-employed person who works in the insurance sector.

But if there is a rabbit for which the FMD does not always find candidates, it is the one that runs in 3 hours and fifteen minutes, the fastest of the four. Raúl Montero, from Badajoz, who works in the banking sector, will carry that banner on Sunday in what will be his 67th marathon. He trains four days a week, has dropped three hours several times but on days like this he gives up making a mark to help a group that is usually made up of experienced runners who want to lose time. «There are people who make the wrong banner because a very common mistake is ambition. We say that a marathon always puts one in his place.

340 registered in the marathon and 982 in the average

1,322 runners have registered to participate this Sunday in the 29th Marathon (with 340 registrations) and in the 7th Badajoz Half Marathon (with 982), a race that will also be the Extremadura Marathon Championship.

The start and finish will be at the Paseo Fluvial on the left bank and the arrival at the finish line is estimated at approximately 11:20 am in the case of the first runner of the marathon and the last one must complete the 42,195 kilometers in five hours; while in the half marathon the first arrival will be from 10:30 a.m. and there are three hours to run the 21,097 kilometers of this test.

The trophies will be delivered from 2:00 p.m., as detailed on Wednesday by the mayor, Ignacio Gragera, at a press conference.

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