BarcelonaSport is not about age. Everyone can put on a pair of boots, go out to the front door and start running. There is no better example than the three athletes who explain to ARA how, after 70, Ironmans, marathons and popular races can still be done. But while age is not an impediment, gender is. Women who are now this age were banned from playing sports for a long time. And if you add this to hormonal differences, bone problems during and after menopause, double working hours at work and at home, and child bearing in a heteropatriarchal society, it makes it almost impossible to find examples of women of this age let them run
Toni Noé: “I did my first Ironman in 1998 and I’ve already done 28!”
The point is to never stand still. Either with the thighs on, on the bike, in the water or in the field. Toni Noé (1946, Mataró) does not conceive of life from the sofa at home and his anxiety pushes him to set himself ever greater challenges. At 75, that nerve hasn’t gone away. In 1998 he did his first Ironman and, almost three decades later, every year he continues to stand on the starting line of one of the toughest endurance events in the world. On up to 28 occasions he has completed the 2.4-mile (3.86-kilometer) swim, the 112-mile (180.25-kilometer) bike ride and the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) marathon required by the test . The last time, this summer, when he completed them in 15 hours and 33 minutes, three minutes over the allowed time.
“From a young age I always liked to do things. Before there was only football or basketball, and with my height for basketball I was bad! My father took me to football and I was playing until I was 36, which I got injured. Then I took up mountain climbing and started racing in the Maresme. It took me a while to get used to wearing shoes; I always went barefoot in the countryside. Halfway through the race I had to take off my espadrilles to be able to finish!”, he recalls with a smile. He started out doing half marathons, but before long the 21 kilometers fell short and he made the jump to marathons. “I’ve done so many!” he says, downplaying the hundred he’s completed.
If he wasn’t in the field, where he still works, he was training or participating in races. His day-to-day life was non-stop, until a spur came out of his heel and he had to stop running because he “couldn’t put his foot on the ground”. Far from giving up sports, he jumped into the pool. “The first day I jumped in the water I tried to run my first meters, but it was very bad. I thought I could do it without problems, because I was very strong from running, but I couldn’t even reach the ‘other side of the pool! I was drowning,'” recalls the athlete, who now feels like a fish in water. “You run and swim, why don’t you sign up for triathlons?” a friend told him. Two weeks after buying a second-hand bike, he participated in his first triathlon in Barcelona.
In 1998 he tried the Ironmans and every year since then he has faithfully attended the event. “I always do one every year, but for 4-5 years I did two. I was getting short! [riu]”, he explains with a special light in his eyes. He is happy there and doesn’t look that far from the rest of the participants either. “The only time I notice my age is when I run, because I don’t get to jump and that makes me waste time I have no problem with cycling and swimming,” he emphasizes.
I always train alone, because the old are too old and the young are too young”
In addition to training physically to be able to complete the route, Toni recognizes that you need to have a “special mentality”. “In these races, on the bike and in the water there are no problems, when I run there is always a descent and you have to think that you have to recover. You can’t consider folding, it’s not an option. You have to hold on as you can those 10-15 minutes and then the body recovers”. Sounds easy, right? For him it is a matter of principle. “I’m used to putting up with the physical effort. When I run the Ironmans, I suffer physically and I think, ‘When you used to peel potatoes, you ate so much more!’ Now that must be bread soaked in oil,” he laughs.
When he hears the word withdrawal, he bows his head and his smile fades a little. It does not enter into their plans. “I won’t stop running until they give me the Cross of Sant Jordi! I always enter with the stelada and when they give me the bib I put some stickers of the stelada on the flag of Spain”, he explains with a laugh. It exudes vitality through each of its pores. Always thinking about the next training, always eager to face a new challenge. Next year he’ll be back and eating “those extra three minutes!” It is clear that no one can tell him that he is not capable.
Miquel Pucurull: “It fills me with pride when people tell me that thanks to me they started playing sports”
One day Miquel Pucurull (1938, Barcelona) opened the newspaper and his life changed forever. The doctor had told him he needed to lose weight, start exercising, but he didn’t know where to start. Life took him from top to bottom without mercy, until one day he started turning the pages of the newspaper and saw an article by the chemical engineer Ramon Oliu. “He said that for sedentary people who wanted to get in shape, the best way was to run. He explained his system, a plan, and said that if anyone wanted to follow him they could go to the newspaper office, they would give him a sheet with the plan he recommended. I decided to go with it. It was a very simple plan, but in 3 months I could run for an hour,” he recalls. It meant a before and an after in his life: “I lost 7 or 8 kilos in a short time and got excited to run the first marathon that was held in Barcelona, in 1980. Since then I haven’t stopped running !”
He has been training six times a week for over 40 years. “Running has a great virtue,” he defends. “Not only the physical part, which as you get older is essential, but it is also very necessary mentally. If older people did moderate sports instead of staying at home, they would see the huge amount of benefits . It gives you optimism.” He has already passed the marquitis –concern to beat his own time in each race– and now what matters most to him is reaching the finish line and enjoying each race.
He is a great activist of sports for the elderly and has become a reference for all those running fans, old and not so old. “It fills me with pride when people tell me that thanks to me they have started doing sports or that they go jogging on a day when they don’t feel like it. I feel very loved,” he confesses. With more than 22,000 followers on Twitter, Pucurull recounts his day-to-day life and encourages everyone to “put on their boots and go out”.
Humberto Mauri: “I am the only person who has done all 23 races for the Fire Department”
This Sunday is the 24th edition of the Barcelona Firefighters Race. The streets of the Catalan capital will once again be filled with thousands of people who walk the 10 kilometers until reaching the finish line. Humberto Mauri (1949, Barcelona) will return to the starting line. Since the first edition of this race was held in 1999, it has never failed to meet. “It’s difficult to achieve, because one year, due to work or injury, you may not be able to, but I managed to participate in all of them.” This edition, however, will be special. “This year I will also do it and it will be very special because I will do it with my niece in her first 10 km race that she will do. I am very excited,” admits the runner, who just a week ago did the Camino de Sant Jaume complete: from Roncesvalls to the Galician capital, about 700 km.
He started at the age of 30 in the Cursa d’El Corte Inglés thanks to a friend and, since then, he has been chaining popular races and marathons. “From there I started to train and do half marathons. I have done 20 marathons, including those in New York, Valencia, Barcelona… In addition, apart from running, I also ride a bike and since I’ve also been bowling for 5 years,” he emphasizes. “I have a group of friends that we meet one day a week to go running, and we also go out for lunch and dinner. That keeps you alive at my age. As long as I can do it, I’ll keep going.”
“There are few of us who, at our age, continue to run. Some can’t, others don’t want to, and it’s complicated. People admire us a lot for what we do. There’s a question I get asked a lot and that’s “You still do you run?” and, of course, they are always surprised by the answer, he affirmed. At our age, obviously, many stay at home or don’t do sports. They are surprised that I continue,” he explains smiling. Like the rest of the athletes in this report, retirement is not an option he wants to choose. “The day I retire will be because I will be retired, when the doctor tells me: “You can’t run”. That’s why I’ve chosen bowling now, because it’s a sport that doesn’t require so much physical strength and older people can play it no problems. Just like cycling, which I think will be a sport they let me do once they take me out of running, which will be the first thing they take away from me.”