Chema Martinez and the road. Loneliness. Uncertainty. The t-shirt clinging to his small and rocky body, a machine designed to devour miles. The talent of the most charismatic Spanish long distance runner, dancing in the rain. Right behind him, Jarle Risa, winner of the 2015 Wings for Life World Run in Stavanger (58,58km), whose prize was to choose a different location to run this year. He chose the 'City of Running'. Valencia. Although no one was able to explain him why the sun didn’t show up today and why in the middle of May at H time (13:00h), the thermometer was unable to reach 20 degrees (88% moisture).
"I feel like at home, and I hope i will exceed the 60 km", he joked about the weather right before starting his particular run. A perfect location for an epic day to run for those who can not. Everybody running together for a great cause: the Wings for Life Foundation, which will allocate all the money raised with the registration fees (20 € per person) to continue investigating for a healing solution for spinal cord injuries. A race that still goes on; a race in which none loses.
It was the perfect plan for the more than 2,000 athletes who booked their number for the Spanish version of the biggest race on the planet: Wings for Life World Run. 130,732 runners of 203 nationalities ran simultaneously in 33 different countries (US races were held in two cities). A tribute to diversity, solidarity ... and originality, as there was a Start Line (in Spain at the footsteps of the Museum of Arts and Sciences), but no finish line. Or, to be exact, the finish line kept moving. Slowly at first, quickly at the end. And it had a name. Not one, but two name. The first one: Catcher car, the car that started half an hour after pack and gradually accelerated to hunt down each and every one of the distance runners. The second, his driver: Carlos Sainz, who had to break it to each runner, that it was time to stop.
And, Chema, winner of two editions held so far, looking for a hat trick. At first, in the heart of the Turia Gardens, with a small group, among them Mario Mola, the leader of the World Series Triathlon. Mola came to support the cause by running the first 20km. And Jarle behind Chema, with a constant pace, without fanfare. Then, on his way to the Cabañal, Chema ran alone. He tried to ‘run’ away from the pain and the fatigue in these low intensity areas. He ran happy, relaxed, making it clear that in this life there are things far tougher than running. And Jarle lurking, sharpening his long legs, confident in his possibilities, displaying his skills, giving an advanced class in tactics. So they went south and entered La Albufera, where shortly after crossing kilometer 42.195m, there was a change in the top of the race. Chema resisted, true to himself, running, not thinking, his legs cold by the rain... and he received the visit of Carlos Sainz. Chema stopped at 60.36 km (improving his 59,190km of 2015 that gave him the victory in Aranjuez).
For Jarle Risa it was no longer a question of legs. It was a matter to self-respect, to find the path to that hidden place in the bowels where willpower nests, where there are no cramps or heart beats out of step. He had a number in mind and went for it: 60. It stopped being a strategist to become a poet. He caught up. And he forgot. He went on, possessed by the satisfaction of accomplishment, delaying the arrival of Carlos Sainz and his Catcher car until kilometer 65,51 km.
Shortly before the spectacular duel Martinez-Risa, the adventure of the first woman, Cristina González ended. We are not talking here about a normal athlete. We talk about the four times National Champion of 100km who also holds the national record (8:14:44), as well the records for 50km, and for 6, 24, and 48 hours and 6 days. A woman with extensive experience that since the start had no opposition, and that ran with the first men. Her journey lasted 46,31 km.
But the world is wide and Wings for Life World Run is designed to go beyond the boundaries of the local level. It is an exercise of universality and with global winners, therefore are scrutinizing the results of all races held at the same time. In 2016 the best was the Italian marathoner Giorgio Calcaterra (famous in athletic circles for running back to back 42,195km runs below 2:20), winner in Milan with 88,3km. The Japanese Kaori Yoshida won among the ladies completing 65,71 km in Takashima. Both have pulverized the records of the race, until now held by the Ethiopian Lemawork Ketema (79,90km, Austria, 2015) y and the Japanese Yuuko Watanabe (56,33, Japan, 2015).
The next edition of Wings for Life World Run Spain will be held in Valencia. Will take place on May 7, 2017 and registration is now open at www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com