Cursa de Bombers 2021, the joy of running in a pack again

Runners surely remember the first day they were allowed to go out to play sports after harsh confinement. The streets of Barcelona became a chaotic back and forth of athletes popular, most of them well above their usual rhythm, with a naive smile, driven by illusion, fed up with the circuit they improvised at home, of going up the landing stairs., to sweat without leaving the dining room. The few cars that circulated did not give credit to such street invasion. Surely you remember, there were still times of blue sky and testimonial contamination, of realizing that the city is better without so many fumes. Many of those short men and women have gathered this Sunday in what may be the most esteemed popular race in town. Not because of the route or the distance; probably because of its name: the Fire Race.

About 11,500 people have taken the exit in front of the França station. Less than 24 hours before, around here they marched in demonstration a thousand policemen. This Sunday, in a much more festive atmosphere, about 250 firefighters, dressed in their intervention suits, they were the first to start jogging. Then, in a staggered manner, three more crowds. And everything, seasoned with the songs that never fail, like the ‘Eye of the Tiger‘of Rocky, although the subject is not of Sylvester Stallone, but from Survivor, the band that composed the song for the third installment about the Philadelphia boxer. Already in motion, the tide has struggled to catch up. After the first kilometer, already in the Paral·lel, it was easier to find gaps and move forward. The race, by the way, goes through six neighborhoods of the Eixample and Ciutat Vella.

The first to arrive in the male and female category, shortly after the last ones left, have been Abdesamad Oukhelfen, 22 years old, with a time of 28 minutes and 18 seconds, and Meritxell Soler, which has stopped the clock in 33 minutes and 33 seconds. Both have smashed previous records in this course of the Cursa dels Bombers, which in 2021 celebrated its 22nd edition under the slogan ‘Tornem a córrer’. It is also true that they are not two strangers: he was bronze in the 5,000 meters of the European Sub-23 of 2019 and champion of Spain of the same distance in 2020 and she is the current one Catalan champion of the 10 kilometers.

The last will be the first

More than an hour later, with the first ones already at home, showered and preparing the aperitif, Gemma and Patrícia they went down Via Laietana with the broom car hot on their heels. Without any haste, walking lightly, they were the last to pass under the arch, but they entered much more smiling than the victors. And surely less fatigued. Ahead of them, the British Nigel, with a dignified pig trot. Behind all of them, the city recovered its pulse, that is, the car was commanding the streets again.

In the middle, those 11,500 participants, 36% of which were women, a percentage to remove the hat, well above the records of the first popular races held in Barcelona, ​​when the girls were a frank minority. You will remember those who went jogging in the early 1980s, when there were not a few men who they blurted out any stupidity. Nor has it been that many years (it happened in 1967) since Kathrine Switzer become the first woman to participate in the Boston Marathon even though they tried to kick her out because only men could sign up. It is fair to think (and surely necessary for it to happen) that in a few years there will be more women than they will be wearing numbers.

The animator Pucurull

La Cursa dels Bombers, as is often the case with urban popular races, has forced to split the city in half. There have been many cars and motorcycles that wanted to cross Paral·lel or Gran Via, or enter Eixample, and that have encountered the tide of black t-shirts that prevented them from passing, in addition to the barriers and volunteers in charge of cutting traffic to ensure the safety of the corridors. During the 10,000 meters, dump trucks from Barcelona have also taken to the streets to cheer. Many were waiting for their partners, parents, uncles, grandparents or friends. With theirs they have come very high, but they have also encouraged anyone who passed.

Many others did not have any acquaintances and have still positioned themselves on the slopes to clap their hands. Among them, at the intersection of Rambla Catalunya with Gran Via, an illustrious, Miquel Pucurull, the dean of the runners of Barcelona at 83 years old. He was supposed to run his last marathon on November 7 in the Catalan capital, but a fall left him injured a rib and it cannot be. He will have to wait for the 2022 edition. He already animated the half marathon of the previous weekend, and this Sunday he did the same with this 10-kilometer athletic competition that has become the most massive in the entire State during 2021.

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At the finish line the runners are no longer for the music. Hugs, kisses, arms raised. And once they catch their breath, many wait their turn to get a photo with firefighters who have stayed on arrival to cheer the staff. Outside the fence, some use the curb to stretch calves. And in the environment, the usual question: when is the next race?

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