By YOEL TEJEDA PÉREZ
HAVANA (Nov 15, 2012) – ONCE again, the Cuban capital served as the scene of the legendary Marabana marathon, which reached its 26th edition this year with more than 2,700 participants, approximately 300 of them from other parts of the world.
This last piece of information confirms visitors’ high level of acceptance of the event, earned on its own merit. As Carlos Gattorno, general director of the Marabana-Maracuba project would say, “it’s more than running, it’s Cuba.” Not to mention the fraternal links created among runners to contribute to one of the race’s clear objectives, to build bridges of friendship and solidarity among all peoples, without distinction of any kind.
Being a witness to Marabana – more than “galloping” along a paved stretch it is finding oneself within a veritable potpourri of people – is a palpitating and enriching experience. You find yourself one minute with a young man with his lower legs amputated, following the rhythm of Los Van Van’s “La Maquinaria” from his wheelchair minutes before the starting pistol sounded; another wearing Asian clothing, seated on the ground and using yoga meditation techniques for concentration before beginning his run.
A few kilometres from the start, a number of runners succumbed to fatigue, but instead of abandoning the competition, kept on walking out of respect for the event, their compañeros and themselves. Some even decided to sit on Havana’s Malecón wall, affected by muscular pain and fatigue, but supporting those still running. This was matched by people living on the streets of the circuit, cheering on the runners from their balconies or sidewalks.
All of this and far more was the experience of Marabana 2012, from the competitive point of view won by Cuban national champion Dailín Belmonte and Richer Pérez in the half marathon, and Yailén García and Jorge Luis Suárez in the 42.195 kilometres.
Once again, the popular Marabana run was an undisputed people’s celebration.