‘Running saved my life and I will never stop running’
The spirit of improvement is one of the main values of sports. This daily attitude transfers to life when people have to overcome the obstacles they encounter. That is what happened to Emilio García, a 42 year-old man from Valencia who in 2012 had to make a U-turn in his lifestyle and found that running was the best way to improve his quality of life and his health.
A routine medical check in 2021 made Emilio change his way of thinking and acting. Emilio was overweight: 120 kg was what the scales displayed when he stepped on them. This was basically due to his sedentary lifestyle and to an unbalanced diet. After that routine check at work he decided he had to change his lifestyle because he was told he was far from being healthy. He tried to eat a more balanced diet and he exercised regularly: he started running.
Soon after and thanks to sports he lost weight. That encouraged him and gave him the strength to keep on running and run more and more kilometres as a goal. ‘I was embarrassed to run in public, so I secretly signed up for Moncada Half Marathon and I managed to finish it not even having specifically trained for it. It was an adrenaline rush’—he says. He then felt he had the strength to face bigger challenges.
One year later, in 2013, he had another medical check at work. Emilio thought: ‘They will be amazed when they see I have lost 25 kg’. I was already below 100 kg and the blood test results were much better than they used to, but they discovered something strange in his body: an unexpected abdominal palpation revealed an inflammation in the spleen that sent him directly to hospital. After running some tests, doctors found a 14-centimetre tumour in Emilio’s kidney. Being positive and having an active life had helped him detect a tumour and courageously face it in time. Fortunately, it was not a malignant tumour. However, Emilio had to undergo surgery to remove his left kidney on the 21st of September 2013, the very same day of his 40th birthday. ‘It was particularly hard to go under the knife because I was feeling great. In fact, I had been training on the previous evening. Fortunately, everything went like clockwork’.
A two-month recovery and Emilio was already training with Redotal Team and enjoying running again. He ran two half marathons in Madrid, where he was living, in 2014, and he finally ran the Trinidad Alfonso Valencia Half Marathon in October. “I actually intended to run the Valencia Half Marathon in 2013. I wanted to make my début then but it was not safe to do it because I had recently undergone surgery”.
The race would turn out to be the fastest Half Marathon in the history of Spain and he finished it under 01:45:00. This morale boost encouraged him to rise to what he calls ‘the biggest challenge of his life’: the Trinidad Alfonso EDP Valencia Marathon. Emilio remembered the old times and said: “The chubby kid at school, the one who had always been a bit fat, had run his first marathon and had enjoyed it to the fullest”. Emilio crossed the blue walkway of Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences in slightly more than 3 hours and a half. He was so proud he had overcome ‘the biggest challenge of his life’: ‘I would have never imagined I could make it. I met people who became my friends. Suffering together makes people bond, you know. My team partners say that I ran 45 km because I went from one side to the other giving high fives. I was a beginner and I was scared, but I had trained a lot, so when the race started it was just a matter of enjoying’. It still gives me goose pimples to say this: running saved my life and I will never stop running’.