Whenever I feel the urge to exercise I lie down until it goes away. I always thought the quote was Chesterton's but apparently most people think it was Twain. In all probability it was Paul Terry, founder of Terrytoons. Whoever first said it I've always thought that it embodied a fundamental truth.
There was a Half Marathon in Pinoso today. To be honest it was a bit of a push for me to get there for the ten o clock start. Sunday morning lie in and all that. Once in town I had a bit of difficulty finding the runners. They didn't seem to be where I expected them to be and the town looked strangely empty with several of the main streets cleared of parked cars.
There were though people, lots of people, walking along the Badén and most of them were wearing fluorescent clothing. I presumed they had some relationship to the race so I followed them for a while. Then I changed my mind and went to where I thought the start was. I was just in time to bump into hundreds of people sprinting down Paseo de la Constitución. You wouldn't think it was easy to hide 500 runners in a small town would you?
There wasn't much to it as an event. People running or walking wearing shorts and vests and all those brightly coloured sports clothes. Lots of them grasped bottles of water. I took a few snaps. I walked round. One thing that struck me about the event was the camaraderie. There were people on the side of the road cheering the runners and walkers on. "You can do it," "Nearly there," "You're doing brilliantly," etc., etc. There were the friends running together urging each other to go faster or just to keep going. Then there were the people who had partnered up for the bulk of the distance but who became deadly rivals as they sprinted the last few metres to the finish only to be reunited by a big grin, a pat on the back or a handshake on the other side of the inflatable finishing post.
I took a liking to the official whose job it was to separate the runners continuing on the half marathon from those finishing the 10 km race. "Straight on for the half marathon, last lap - turn here, turn here for the 10km finish - you're almost there." But alongside the official message, the essential information, there was a little extra for nearly all the runners - some form of personal encouragement. And he seemed to know at least half of the runners personally. "You're flying Enrique," "Looking good Carmen," "Chin up José." A good man for the job I thought.
Small Spanish towns are good at community stuff. People know each other, people say hello, people have time for others but I rather suspect that Mr Terry and I may have missed at least one of the benefits of exercise.