There are many ways to reward effort, to join forces, to launch messages and build bridges. No doubt when Radio Reloj officially announces the start of the 29th edition of the Marabana, at 7:00am this Sunday, November 15, it will be a momentous moment for many.
Previously, as is tradition, different generations of participants will attend the ceremony of the Yoruba religion asking Olofi and Orula to bless the race, before a flood of runners gathers before the Capitolio building. Thus begins each year the reputable Havana marathon, which this time is part of the activities for the Day of Physical Culture and Sport.
This year’s edition has already been described as unprecedented, as the number of people registering to race broke all records. At the time of writing almost 5,000 runners, including 1,470 international visitors, were hoping to run the circuit.
Carlos Gatorno, president of the Organizing Committee, noted that 60 nations will be represented this year, an unmatched number as well, highlighting that 567 U.S. citizens are due to take part, demonstrating the progress made since the improvement in relations between Cuba and the U.S. began.
Another pleasant surprise is the number of athletes who will complete the full circuit (42 kilometers and 195 meters), set at 580, a figure that even the boldest could not have foretold when the Marabana began back in 1986.
Of course, this avalanche of runners will require coordination and organization by all the bodies responsible for ensuring the near perfection of the marathon, especially taking into account the estimated duration of the race, expected to exceed six hours. Of vital importance are supplies at the refreshment points, especially those along the last 6-7 kilometer stretch of the circuit, with the novelty of two showers for those making it this far in the suffocating heat.
Of the total number of international runners (1,470), the other nations with the most participants are Mexico (107), Italy (97), Germany (80), Spain (73), France (71), Denmark (55) and Brazil (44); while more than 3,000 Cubans also formalized their registrations, led by the main middle distance stars.
Among the latter is the title holder of the Toronto Pan American Games marathon, Richer Pérez, who will attempt to secure his crown for the fourth consecutive time in the half marathon, after clocking a time of 1:10:02 in the 2014 edition, ahead of Henry Jaen (1:10:49) and Lioyan Torres (1:11:09).
Endorsed since 1988 by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, the circuit could see a host of records, and many will be watching expectantly to see whether Richer will ultimately secure the time required to guarantee his place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
The day before Marabana 2015, on November 14, the whole country will join Maracuba, the largest project of simultaneous races in the country, which takes place in even the most remote areas, and has seen more than one million participants in previous years.
A festival of running and interaction. Camaraderie, sun, sweat and the battle against exhaustion. Each runner, at his or her own pace, will seek to surpass their goal. They have already achieved something great – contributing to an unprecedented celebration through their very presence.