by Aldo Leon, Mexico (PPRE 2015/17)
It was early morning on Sunday, October 18th 2015, cloudy and chilly day accompanied by that light rain that wets your clothes little by little, the kind of Sunday were you just look out of the window and you know you won´t leave the house unless it is absolutely necessary, I mean, why would you leave? Not even the stores are open on a Sunday here so, why not make a plan to sit at home and watch movies with a hot cup of chocolate? Well, we had a marathon to run. The Oldenburg Marathon
Everything started with a challenge from the PPRE staff to run the Oldenburg Marathon as a relay team, a lot of students said “Yes” at first and this new PPRE/EUREC batch of students had two teams quickly ready but, due to past injuries, some people arguing bad physical shape and some other for reasons still unknown, we ended up with just one team that would represent the students and 4 different countries (Mexico, Nicaragua, USA and India).
As I said, the day was cold and overcast but we were ready and confident, Amit (India) started the team effort on a great pace by completing the first 8km finishing his run on Pferdemarkt, he was enjoying it so much that he kept on going and almost missed the first relay checkpoint so we had to scream his name from there so he could give the baton (well, in this case a chip with a Velcro band) to Babak (USA) so he could start his 13km run and finish the first half of the marathon, I have to give it to him, he was motivated from the very beginning, trained days before to improve his times and it showed on the good pace in which he ran, getting some blisters but finishing on a high note, after his good performance he delivered the baton on Schlossplatz to the women representative in our team, Agata (Nicaragua), who ran the same 8km stretch as Amit, she had to cover herself with different layers so the cold wouldn´t be an issue because she comes from a warm place and this weather was not helping, nevertheless she did an outstanding job and handed over the baton to me, Aldo (Mexico) to complete the last 13km and take the team effort to the finish line, Speedy Gonzales would have been proud.
Rain falling slowly and mixing with sweat dripping down my face and my eyes, muscles tightening because of the cold, the voice in my head asking “why did I wear shorts instead of pants?”, my left earphone failing mid-race but I was impressed and happy to run on streets that I hadn´t seen before with really nice tree passages, people outside of their houses cheering and supporting the runners, offering you water or sugar candy and being really happy about the runners taking their offer, kids extending their little hands asking for a high-five, now, I don´t run the same when I don´t have music along with my pace but the cheering from these strangers was what kept me motivated to run faster and I think I speak for my team mates when I say that they were motivated by this as well, then suddenly I saw myself running that last kilometer and the crowd starts getting bigger and bigger, that is when I realized that I was getting closer to the finish line so I started running even faster and then the best feeling was to see my team-mates waiting there, cheering on the finish line.
After it was over, we hugged and congratulated each other, as well as the PPRE staff team, took some pictures and remembered how we got there, 42km, two laps around the city of Oldenburg in less than 4 hours, a whole marathon on team effort, we got our participation medals and well deserved treats of water, fruit, bread and beer, we stretched, then sat down and relaxed the muscles while watching the awards ceremony and when it was over, went out of the runners´ tent to feel the cold again and I thought to myself once more “why did I wear shorts instead of pants?” and headed home.
It is the first time that I run a race like this with a team and, as you can read on the lines above, it was a wonderful experience, one that I would definitely repeat because we out-ran and defeated the PPRE staff team with a 4 minute difference and are hereby declared the winners of this year´s running challenge. We will see what happens next year.