Six in the morning on the outskirts of the capital Sala Ramón Fonst. The street packed, despite the humid dawn. People from all over come to the place that hosts the Marabana for the first time.
For Andy Vargas Pérez, from Havana, this will be his first Marabana: “I come with my colleagues from the Alta Habana Rolling club. It is the third time that I have entered the 21 km half marathon. I already ran in Cacahual and Varadero. It is my first official Marabana. I have quite a few expectations. Since they have made changes, they have told me that the course is more challenging. I have prepared all year for this race. So let’s get excited.”
At his side, Orlando Gómez, another of the members of the Alta Habana Rolling club, commented that they started running as a group about 10 years ago.
Gómez said that “we started with the 10 km modality, to improve little by little, improve physically and mentally and take on bigger and bigger challenges. We have been covering the 21 km for six years now. We haven’t thought about reaching 42 yet. We’ll try to stay together and advance collectively. That is something that the Marabana also brings us. That has always been the Gattorno way of working. That’s why we came very early.”
About 10 meters from them, some girls from Cárdenas, between smiles and snapshots, get ready for the start.
“We are from Matanzas, from the Provincial Sports Department. We come with 42 runners. We will assume the race not only as a competition, but as a recreational activity”, said Gladys Herrera Fernández.
At the same finish line, and at 6:26 am, I spoke with Emmanuel Frank Montero from Holguin, who along with his son will compete in the category for people with disabilities.
Montero commented that they have participated together on other occasions and have obtained first and second places. She assured that “we want to repeat the same performance this year. We have prepared for that.”
Gattorno gives the start signal. At 6:30 am the squad of runners leaves. They are going with the impetus of two years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to preliminary data, 3,100 runners are participating, including 600 foreigners.
The 10 km test was dominated by Francisco Estevez and Dayli Marlins Cooper, with times of 32:27 and 36:33, respectively.
For their part, in the half marathon, Dayrán Suárez from Matanzas (01:09:01) and Anisleydis Ochoa from Guantanamo (01:20:50) reached the finish line first.
Suárez, who already accumulated a bronze and a silver in the modality, expressed that he is satisfied with the result.
“It was a tough journey. I took care of all my rivals. I had a mark of 10.30, now I’ve improved it a lot. I want to thank God for all the preparation I had, as well as my coach, who gave me a lot of confidence. I dedicate this victory to my family, my girlfriend and my friends”, he asserted.
Around 9:06 am, Yuleidis La O Terrero from Holguin, winner of Marabana 2022, arrived at the finish line, registering a time of 2:36:35.
La O, who in the previous edition had dominated the 21 km, declared: “Very satisfied. I have to say that it had been 20 days since I had prepared myself as I should, because I have tendonitis in my left tendon. Since I left, I felt pain.
“My fear was that I would get the same pain from training. I ran at a preparation pace, because I’m getting ready for the Central American Games. Nevertheless, I went ahead. When I got to kilometer 35, I saw that I could get there. So it was. I am champion of the 42 km marathon”.
For the ladies, Lisandra Gómez, also from Holguin, won with a time of 3:02:54.
The broker stated that “I am very satisfied. It was quite a difficult race. She had been participating in the Marabana since 2016 and had not obtained relevant results.
“From kilometer 16 I was alone. The weather was humid and in the second lap the sun got worse. Thanks to my coach for the preparation provided, my family for the support to face this test.
“I had a time of 3:08 and now I’ve improved it. My goal is to continue like this with a view to qualifying for the Central American Games.”
Regarding the 36th edition of the Marabana, its coordinator Carlos Gattorno, assured that “it constituted the return to face-to-face races, to the streets, after an extremely difficult stage. Everything has been possible due to the success of Cuban medicine and scientists.
“We are here today and we have more than 600 runners from 51 countries, because the foreigners are confident that the Cuban participants have a complete immunization schedule, and that wherever they go they will speak with properly vaccinated people. And that is extremely important for that Cuban runners can fraternize and show solidarity with those who visit us”.
Gattorno stressed that the Marabana is the race for peace. “The medal that we are awarding to all the competitors is white and says ‘Cuba for peace’. That is a compelling reason. We are a people of peace.”
He announced that next year, the event will be dedicated to Mexico.