Sunday, 28 October 2007

Cursa Popular – more popular than ever

One of Vilanova’s best sides are the conditions and facilities for outdoor sports, so it is suitable that we have a local running race through the town. It attracts a lot of people. My only question is where do they all come from?

On Saturday October 21, el Club Esportiu de Vilanova i la Geltrú organised the annual Cursa Popular. The 7 km main race does not require too big an effort of regular joggers and the 1,5 km Minicursa, which parents and children can run together, is also an interesting format. This year, the race had its starting point in Plaça del Mercat. In spite of some quite tasteful public art, this square is an eyesore when it is empty but that was certainly not the case this day. In total, 1.626 had signed up to participate and that exceeded the organisers’ target.

We are not new in Vilanova any longer, so when I learnt that this was the 29th Cursa Popular, I fell a bit ashamed for having taken part for the first time. I can not understand how I have managed to miss it the last two years, not only since I like jogging but also since the route turned out to be a well planned presentation of our town.

On the Rambla we passed by people having a coffee at the outdoor cafes. After that we reached the fresh air, but fortunately enough no strong wind, at the marina, followed by the beach promenade of Ribes-Roges. By the time we turned back towards the centre I must admit to feeling a bit disappointed with the amount of runners who overtook me but then discovered my wife and children who had come to cheer on me. This gave me new forces to run through the old parts of Vilanova and then follow what I assume must have once been the wall street of la Geltrú. My original intention was to start spurting when coming back to the Rambla, but my strengths failed me so I only did so when I saw the beautiful Mercat building in front of me.

My result was far from impressive but I blame that on a nasty cold. The entrepà and sports drink served at the finishing line soon made me forget my suffering. Next year my oldest son will be five years old, so maybe I will be nicer on myself and run the Minicursa together with him instead. Since it goes through streets which he knows well I will be able to challenge him up to the next toy store in case he gets exhausted.

The only thing that puzzles me a bit with the Cursa Popular is where all the participants came from. Vilanova is a small town, and until now I have been under the impression that I start to recognize people here. Faces I spot when walking around in the pedestrian area also turn up during the carnaval and the festa major. However, among my fellow runners I found very few people whom I am sure to have seen before. Are we so divided in our town that we either take part in local street life and culture or do sports? If so, I will have to accept being odd, because I feel connected to both groups.

My first Cursa Popular left me with one special memory. When the start shot went off and the big crowd started to move - everybody dressed in the same green t-shirt - a strong sense of belonging came over me. Was it that emotion that made me feel a tear forming in one of my eyes? Am I really so pathetic or was I just blinded by the bright sunshine?

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