ATHLETE'S WORD

21/04/16

ATHLETE'S WORD

On next May 8th we'll face anonymous road runners who set up their alarm clocks as early birds to scratch some time for their daily workout.

Full time dreamers. No matter to rise up early or go to bed late, neither to skip their lunch. Anything but skipping a day in the training plan. These heroes will be the vast majority of the chromatic wing that will fly over Valencia leaving a stream of hope and charity behind.

There will be, of course, hard trainers with sculpted bodies after hours of discipline. Runners, hikers, pilots, bikers... Every year new faces gather in the race (world's biggest), upon to experience the unforgettable. Before we know a little more of the cast, it's time to remember the memories of one example of this elite tribe, fencer Gema Hassen-Bey, one of best athletes in Spanish sport history.

Born in Madrid, 5 appearances in Olympic Games (14 titles achieved), participated last year and remembers as "a very positive and accessible experience. Anybody on his chair can compete, no need to invest on a fancy sport wheelchair. And, of course, the spirit, the good cause we all run for. An inclusive one, as handicapped and not-handicapped people race together.

She, as a social and struggler woman, used to raise her voice for the ones without a mic and a camera, highlights the social profile and community of the race: "I made some good friends, like Kira Miró and Victor Tasende, with whom I connected in such a special way. They took us a picture that got spread over the world; sport is also about sharing, not only winning medals.

Gema also remarks that "you don't need to be an experienced athlete... Just sign up and run!". She also gives advice for those coming to Valencia: "Don't forget to pump your tires with enough pressure. Better to check it before because your daily routine is so different to adding miles on your wheels. Another piece of advice: "if someone escorts you, better to be fit, because it can be a hard race for helpers. Also should be good to check up pavement condition and, if possible, having a look before".

For those who don't exercise too much but would love to join the challenge for the cause, she recommends "training easy at first, mainly muscular, to build strength and endurance. I would do it progressive, each day a further step, a small daily challenge. Do not overtrain, as you are not winning condition for getting exhausted one day. I shouldn't focus this race as a competition, but an experience: do your best and enjoy"

For her, it served as training for her great goal: Bey Kilimanjaro Challenge Summit. You figured right, climbing up the mitical mountain. "It's a huge and ambitious project. I mean that's a lot involved, from producing a special wheelchair to developing some new technologies that will make people's life easier... Anyone interested, please check www.diverscity.es. We're working hard with Bey Proaction Foundation as, if you think about that, how has it been possible for man to reach the Moon and we are having troubles into getting to the bakery? The challenge is in process, but I've managed to climb Abates and "Bola del Mundo", but still we have to minimize risks. If not, we'll be insane, not challengers".

Gema's experience is a fantastic motivation to train and wondering about making our dreams reality... but let's go step by step. First, maybe, we can do in Valencia. We'll see you there.

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