"This is the marathon of normalcy." On March 15, 2020, Barcelona was forced to postpone its marathon due to the start of the confinement. Three years later, this Sunday, the city celebrates the 2023 edition in full conditions. Those of 2021 and those of 2022 were run but it is now when the participation volume of the Zurich Marató de Barcelona is recovered. A total of 15,127 registered, 50% more than last year, will be present this Sunday (8:30 am, TV3) at the starting line next to the Venetian towers in Plaza Espanya, where the finish line is also located. The circuit, monumental and which runs through the main arteries of the city, is the same as in recent years.
“As already happened in the half marathon, we have overcome the effect of the pandemic in every way. We already have very important figures”, the Barcelona City Councilor for Sports, David Escudé, who will also run the marathon, told this newspaper. Not only that, but Barcelona will break its record of international participation. 55% of those registered come from abroad (8,319 runners). Athletes from 119 countries will run through the streets of Barcelona.
It is a type of tourism that is interesting, with a certain purchasing power and that extends its presence to three or four overnight stays. "20% of the tourism that visits us does so for some reason related to sport", recalls Escudé, who adds: "We neither compare ourselves nor will we compare ourselves with Berlin or London, which are very good and focus a lot on the elite runner, but our reference continues to be New York because we want people, the popular runner to come and want to repeat in Barcelona. He is our main ambassador”, reasons the councilor.
This exquisite treatment of the ordinary athlete has made the marathon of the Catalan capital receive the Gold Label for the first time, for organizational excellence. It is the only Spanish marathon with this band and there are only three in Europe (Barcelona, Rotterdam and Istanbul).
But logically Barcelona does not renounce the elite. This year it has the presence of seven men and seven women with the Gold label. On her legs trying to lower the circuit records (2h5m53s in men and 2h23m11s in women). In the men's category, the main favorite is the turn of Kenyan origin Kaan Kigen Özbilen, an athlete who is under 2 hours, 5 minutes. "He is Eliud Kipchoge's training partner", highlights Mauro Llorens, director of the test. “Yes, Eliud has always been my mentor, I come to Barcelona to give everything to achieve the city record”, says Özbilen.
In the female category, the great contender is the Ethiopian Zeineba Yimer Worku, whose best record is below 2 hours 20 minutes. Speaking of women, the presence of 3,781 women is expected, 25% of the total participation, the same percentage as in 2022 and 5% more than in 2021. “In the half marathon we had a true revolution of women, some 7,000 . I believe that this effect will be noticeable especially in the 2024 marathon because the half marathon gives you security and helps you to break down mental barriers”, Escudé ventures. The world runs in Barcelona this Sunday.