Mary runs her first 10K race in 10 years: Cursa Bombers in Barcelona. In true Catalan style, where all action takes place at night, the race begins at 9 p.m. Jude, Mary’s running compañera, catches up to Las Chicas as we approach the starting area by Plaça Espanya and the National Museum of Catalunya.
Starting corrals in front of the National Museum of Catalunya.
Thousands of runners in lime green and apricot shirts walk, wander, warm up and take selfies. Lime green for chicos, apricot for chicas. We join them in commemorating the moment.
Honorary Chica Jude and Mary.
Cursa Bombers = Firefighters Course
In prevous races, firefighters run the 10K in all their gear, but not this year. They do, however, play a critical role later in the race.
Mary and Jude head into the 60 minutes or less group area, and watch the sky turn pink over Plaça Espanya. The DJ spins music to pump us up. In lieu of the Catalan or Spanish National Anthem, a sampling from Freddie Mercury’s “Barcelona” blasts from the speakers. Written for the 1992 Olympics, he sang it with opera singer Montserrat Caballé at a 1988 event. Here’s the video link.
Jude interprets important parts of the announcer’s Catalan speech:
boti boti boti! = bounce! jump around and get ready to run
We vow to keep an eye on the 58′ giant black balloon so we can finish in 58 minutes.
The Magic Fountains of Montjuic come on just before our start.
Fountains line the start area.
Then the Catalan countdown:
After the Catalan countdown, we walk/jog to the start line, it takes about 7 minutes. And we’re off and running, downhill. A fine way to start a race. We lose sight of the 58′ balloon. We look for Lisa on the sidewalk, she looks for us, but didn’t make eye contact. Thank goodness for video, to prove that we started the race. Watch the running in circles warm up, then the pros fly by, next Mary and Jude jog among the throngs, then the night finish. Unlike most runners, Jude has blond hair, a critical characteristic which helps us later in the run.
Ara mes rapid marks the last 200 meters where we are supposed to sprint for the line.
I bump elbows with Jude, and assorted other runners who argy-bargy past us and even between us. The running crowd never thins out, we are always surrounded by bouncing heads.We cruise down through the neighborhood of Poble Sec (dry town) to the Port Vell (old port) and the drum corps at the base of the Christopher Columbus statue. We continue to Avignuda de Picasso along Ciutadella Park and turn past the Arc Triomf. I see all these famous monuments anew, a new angle from the street, a new time of dusk, and surrounded by 100 new running companions.
We reach the water station. Jude goes for the plastic bottle first, then disappears into thin air. Every woman wears the same shirt so I start to give up hope as I scan the throngs of bottle tossers. I drink and jog, and spot her blond head in the distance. She’s also looking around for me and we quickly reunite.
We pass the 5K sign, and I’m feeling good.
Then I feel hot, and take out my secret weapon: the Richard Simmons-style terry cloth head sweat band. The night seems especially humid.
Photo by Susana Calvera via Wikimedia Commons
More Catalan cheering: Animo, animo, animo = go! animate yourself!
Also Spanish cheering: Venga! = go!
Darkness falls and sweat glistens from every arm, calf, neck and head as far as the eye can see.
The tram rolls by, filled with incredulous passengers.
Happiness comes in the form of a firetruck and ladder and hose spraying water over the course. We run in the rain for five glorious steps.
The final 200 meters have flashing lights and lasers, and loudspeakers blasting music and more Catalan cheering.
We see the finish line, but come to a dead stop as 100 people try to crowd through a space for 10. I stop my watch at 1:02:23. About 30 seconds later, we shove our way across the line.
Amazingly, Lisa spots us and joins us in the slow march to the swag bag. We walk near the beach with crowds for another half a kilometer to get our swag bag of water, aquarade (Gatorade product), and pieces of paper.
The sea breeze cools us, then chills us. Thank goodness Lisa has carried my fleece sweatshirt. Jude smartly carried her jacket tied around her waist.
The cell phone network is overloaded, Jude’s phone doesn’t work. But Lisa finds a signal and we call Jude’s husband Jordi to arrange a meeting on a crowded bridge near the skatepark.
Across throngs of people in the distance, the stage thumps its bass line and lights up the blustering dust from 10,000 pairs of feet. No post-race festa (party) for us chicas. We are all “shattered” as Jude says, and head home.
To see a 38-second video of what running the course looks like at night, minus 10,000 runners, drum corps, sidewalks of fans and non-fans, click here.
© 2015 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.