The thrilling feat of the first athlete with cerebral palsy to complete a marathon

The thrilling feat of the first athlete with cerebral palsy to complete a marathon

The Catalan athlete is 32 years old and has suffered from paralysis since childhood (@maratobarcelona)

There are all kinds of victories in the world of in progress. Each race shows us the triumphant face and the celebration of thousands of runners. Only one can win, says the rules, but at the end of each marathon we all see the opposite. Behind the elite athletes who aim for the podium, the prize and the glory, there are all the others.

The plan they have in place is not always known to fans, but most know that being on a starting line is already a victory that few in the world achieve. Passing the goal is a personal achievement that no one forgets.

In the marathon Last Sunday in Barcelona, ​​there was one athlete among all those unnamed heroes who achieved an unimaginable victory, a feat that is now part of history. His name is Alex Roca.

The Catalan athlete was born in 1991, at six months he suffered a herpes viral encephalitis which caused him cerebral palsy and a physical disability of 76% of his body It affects your mobility. Álex only communicates in sign language and his girlfriend acts as an interpreter for those who don’t speak sign language.

Álex has developed a professional and personal life that includes playing sports. Crossing the finish line of the Barcelona Marathon, he became the first athlete with this level of disability to complete the 42 kilometers 195 meters of the toughest street race event. His feat shocked the world.

The thrilling encouragement of the public to Álex Roca at the Barcelona Marathon (@alexroca91)

Many able-bodied athletes fail to complete a marathon. The physical effort is enormous and the body does not always respond as expected. That’s why, all over the world, professional and amateur athletes train for years to be able to go the distance. There are better and worse ways to train and, as Álex demonstrated, there are situations that make the process of becoming a marathoner very difficult.

Álex, to put it in sporting terms, started this race against the human limits well from behind His illness has put him as far as a human being can get from reaching the goal.

The prognosis when I was a baby was not encouraging. They thought he was going to die or remain in a vegetative state. Well, this Sunday, thirty-two years later, not only did he prove them wrong, but he also placed himself in that minority in the world that has the medal for finishing a marathon.

Álex is not unknown in the sports world. In Spain he is famous for his achievements and around the world, every time he completes a test we all remember the tenacity with which he faces every goal. He does not complain and does not live his condition with sadness. His motivation is the struggle to achieve these goals, like any athlete, but with the added effort of having to make a superhuman effort to go through the process.

The Catalan athlete was born in 1991, at six months he suffered from herpetic viral encephalitis which caused cerebral palsy and physical disability of 76% of his body (@maratobarcelona)
The Catalan athlete was born in 1991, at six months he suffered from herpetic viral encephalitis which caused cerebral palsy and physical disability of 76% of his body (@maratobarcelona)

Throughout his life, and this is something that irritates Álex, They told him he couldn’t, it was impossible, that there was no way to get what he was looking for. He proved them wrong, and in doing so he showed us all what was to him his mantra and slogan: “The limit is yours”.

The Barcelona Marathon is one of the most important in Spain, a country that boasts of having great competitions, such as Valencia, Seville and, of course, Madrid.

In this year 2023, the marathon had several records. Bahrain’s Marius Kimutai set the men’s record with a time of 02:05:06 and Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer Worku did the same for the women with a time of 02:19:44.

The total number of runners who took part was 11,450. The headlines reported all this, but Álex Roca caught everyone’s attention because his participation was expected, the culmination of a new stage in his spectacular career. The athlete was followed in the networks, a whole previous campaign announced his participation and a group of runners accompanied him on the tour with the fervent encouragement of the public.

There are no secrets in his triumph, his years of hard work have seen him arrive at the starting line well prepared.

Alex Roca finished triathlons, five half-marathons and mountain bike races. Many able-bodied athletes enter the marathon without any prior competition, but Álex had the humility and patience to wait and improve as a runner to make things go smoothly.

Months of specific training, in addition to what he had already accumulated over the years. Of the 11,450 scored, 10,863 crossed the finish line. Álex finished the test with a time of 05:50:51, which placed him in 10,754th place in the total number of athletes.

Over 11,400 runners took part in the 2023 Barcelona Marathon (@ZURICHMARATODEBARCELONA)
Over 11,400 runners took part in the 2023 Barcelona Marathon (@ZURICHMARATODEBARCELONA)

There’s usually a lot of encouragement for runners who take longer in marathons, but what Alex did in this race was amazing. Not only was he accompanied by other athletes, but the people kept cheering, the media and they covered those last few meters. Thousands of people followed the race on Ttwitch, on the account of his training partner Valentí Sanjuan.

Never had an athlete with this handicap completed a marathon. When asked why run a marathon, he simply said what all marathon runners say:Because it makes me happy.

In his networks he shared the previous days, where of course, like all marathon runners, he was afraid and had doubts. But he summed it up himself in his post before the race: “Anyone who has a goal, even if it has a lot of difficulties and fears that come with it, with sacrifices, attitude and hard work. team, can reach it.”

Álex crossed the marathon finish line and made history, but he also pushed us all to take a step forward, he motivated us and motivates us to continue.

As marathon pioneer Kathrine Switzer said, “If you ever lose faith in the human spirit, go out and watch a marathon. We could adapt the phrase for this occasion and say: “If you ever lose faith in the human spirit, go outside and see how Álex Roca finished the Barcelona marathon”.

*Santiago García is a marathon runner, author of the books “Run to Live, Live to Run” and “Run Again”. He has completed the Six World Marathon Majors twice. On Instagram: @sangarciacorre.

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Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.For tips or news submission: