And the women's marathon is African, of course.

It's the eighth day of competitions, and now I'm just sleepy.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 August 2023 Friday 16:24
2 Reads
And the women's marathon is African, of course.

It's the eighth day of competitions, and now I'm just sleepy.

I went to bed at one o'clock at night, still excited by the wonders of the day before.

Shericka Jackson's gliding in the double hectometre and the consecration of Noah Lyles as the best sprinter of the moment, champion of the 100 and 200.

And the hasty triumph of Yulimar Rojas, the avatar of the triple jump whose success has come in the last attempt, that's how Carl Lewis won, that's how Miltiadis Tentoglou wins, that's how the champions are.

"If he wanted to be better, Yulimar had to go through moments like this," his coach, the legendary Iván Pedroso, confessed to me in the bowels of the stadium. Although this has been a triumph for the team: between the two of us we have talked about what he had to do to fix this in the last attempt. I told him: 'forget about the big brands, don't think about 15.60 or 15.70m. To win, a 15.10m is enough for you, and we do that every day in Guadalajara'. And that has done, obey me and ensure the attempt.

And so Rojas has done: 15.08m to the last, and the fourth world gold in the discipline was already his.

-Oeeeeeee -she had been shouting, a cyclone of feelings, a 1.92m avatar hugging everyone, chroniclers included.

All those exciting episodes have been with me at night, and I had hardly gotten rid of them to fall asleep when the alarm clock went off, riiiinnng, it's six in the morning, friend, and still sleepy I jumped out of bed and went back to the ring.

Dawn in Budapest: bus line 5 in Buda, tram 4 and metro line 1, to the Heroes' Square in Budapest. I had an appointment with the marathon runners.

The World Cup marathon goes through its vicissitudes, in the manner of the athletic march.

Just as it questions the future of walkers, a blow to the waterline of the Spaniards -four golds in these World Cups, go ahead and improve that-, World Athletics is also considering the possibility of eliminating the marathon from its world program, incorporating it in some prestigious collateral event, be it the Berlin marathon, or the London marathon, or the New York marathon, or the Valencia marathon...

(Well, the march and the marathon lengthen the program of the World Cups, and that threatens the current subculture, that of the fast clip, the scroll, the twenty-minute television episodes, fast food).

I understand the argument when I get off the carriage and emerge in Heroes' Square, the starting and finishing point for the marathon runners: in the VIP box are Sir Sebastian Bach and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but beyond of them there are four cats here, the marathon runners run almost alone, listening to themselves, there are no big stars either.

Sifan Hassan, nor Genzebe Dibaba, nor Brigid Kosgei, nor Letesenbet Gidey do not run here: the most charismatic names in the discipline opt for the tests of millionaire prizes, just as 2.0 footballers surrender to Saudi petrodollars, and the rest of marathoners present in Budapest are brilliant, but anonymous to the popular ideology.

The painting is a classic.

For twenty km, the Africans take a nap, let some Europeans and some Americans stick their heads out - Sullivan, D'Amato and Flanagan from the USA, Kejeta from Germany, Epis from Italy - and then pick up their pace and leave en masse.

The four Ethiopians leave - there is hardly any news from the Spanish women: Meritxell Soler finishes 27th, in 2h34m38s; Marta Galimany, the 38th (2h37m10s); Fátima Ouhadu retires at km 25, with a swollen ankle- and then, among the Ethiopians, Amane Beriso Shankule stands out, the green arrow in red pants who had surprised Letesenbet Gidey nine months ago in the Valencia marathon and who now surprise Gotytom Gebreslase, the 2022 world champion, this time silver.

-It has been hard and long, but I'm super happy: by times it was 37th and I finished Top30 -says Meritxell Soler, who holds on to a lamppost and then asks to sit on the asphalt, because she can't stand up.

(Her bloody nails give her away, it hurts to see them, but the next commitment is already being considered, that's how marathon runners are: the Seville marathon, in February).

There are days that are like that. I came out to conserve strength to push in the second part, but when I wanted to do it, my legs didn't respond. I'll have to talk to the whole team to see what happened - says Marta Galimany, the woman who travels the most kms per day (Strava dixit), an average of 24 km per day, whose voice breaks, so much effort to leave with a bittersweet taste .

Shankule prevails in 2h24m23s, a very discreet mark (it has been run at 29º C), eleven seconds ahead of Gebreslase and two minutes ahead of Yehualaw, the third Ethiopian who is fifth at the finish line and who arrives in a faint: she is ready collapsing on the orange carpet, lucky for her companions who have abandoned their leaps of joy to run to catch her before rushing.

Sir Sebastian Coe is a direct witness to all these episodes: it is he who must hang the chocolate medal from the neck of the medalists, and he does so, president in situ whose mind does not stop guessing, he wonders what to do with this march and the marathon, how to make the event win over the masses.