A last marathon, a family affair

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

By Almudena Toral

Julian Silgado, a Spaniard who has run 34 marathons, once promised his daughters that if he was still running at age 60, he would bring them and their families with him to New York to watch him run his last marathon.

At the age of 60, he is still a devoted runner. His birthday was on Sept. 13, and he retired two weeks after.Julian Silgado

Silgado remembers well the moment when he made the promise. A bus on his way to Newark’s airport, the goodbye of his third marathon between the city’s skyscrapers in 2000, a hill, the night, and Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York” from the vehicle’s loudspeaker…

His daughters Raquel, 31, and Elena, 27, don’t quite believe nine years have passed since that moment. Elena has even changed the date of her wedding to honor this promise.

“We delayed it to Nov. 14 so we could come to this trip together,” Elena Silgado said.

Although some of Silgado’s running mates believe he should keep on running marathons, he’s convinced this is the last one. “This is the last one because this is a huge sacrifice.”

The decision was not easy, Silgado said. Marathons are for Silgado the greatest of temptations — an addiction that he’s had all his life, he said.

His wife, Dolores Rodriguez, said that with or without marathons, Silgado will never take off his running shoes.

Anselmo Gomez, his running mate for 15 years, said he is ready for his last marathon. “I see him stronger than ever. Perhaps it’s because of that new sage of being retired,” said Gomez in Spanish last Friday. Both of their families had dinner in a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan hours after their plane landed.

Ex-director of the human resources department at the multinational company Makro and a long run athlete, Silgado has been running at Serigrafia Ayala Club since his friend Candido Ayala founded it 10 years ago. They have a group of friends that always run together. They’re easily identifiable in between any pack as they wear a shocking pink uniform.

Dressed in pink and wearing a white cap, he ran along the streets of New York. He ran together with his running mates most of the way.

Julian Silgado version 2_2Although in Madrid the friends run to improve their times, Silgado said, here to New York they came to enjoy the marathon. “We’re going to try to run the six of us together, then later on the worst runners will stay behind and the best ones like me will advance,” he joked.

Silgado has run marathons in Madrid, Berlin, Prague, New York, Seville, San Sebastian and Valencia. Although his favorites are Madrid’s because that’s where he’s from, he called the marathons in New York the most astonishing.

He liked the diversity of its peoples and New York’s scenery. “New York’s marathon is the Olympics for us: it’s the Mecca of the popular runner,” he said.

Silgado ran the 42.195 kilometers of New York’s marathon for the first time at the race’s 25th anniversary. More than 40,000 people ran in the New York City marathon this year, with more than 2 million spectators cheer along the city’s five boroughs. ING estimated that more runners than ever will make it in less than five hours.

Silgado reached the finishing line in four hours and 11 minutes.

“We came with the idea of finishing whatever it took, the words giving up don’t exist!” he said.

On D-Day morning Silgado had milk and corn flakes, which he has done every day since he went to London to study English when he was 40.

To celebrate the success, he said, he will see a Broadway show, spend time with the family that has supported him so much over the years, and tour Chicago for a few days.

Dolores, Elena and Raquel couldn’t be any prouder, they said during the race with Spanish flags wrapped around them.

And Silgado said he couldn’t have made it without them. “I love having them here.”

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