XII Race and Walk Llluís Companys: Commemoration of the Peoples’ Olympiad of 1936

On Saturday, 19 October, transform! europe’s member organisation Fundació l’Alternativa celebrated the XII edition of the Race and Walk Lluís Companys – an event that bundles historical memory, giving voice to republican values, sports and culture. An active and festive way of claiming peace culture and solidarity between peoples and nations.

The event is organised to recall to mind the Popular Olympiad, which was to be celebrated in July 1936 in Barcelona as a counter event to the Olympic Games in Berlin, and which could not be celebrated due to the fascist coup d’état. The race and walk bears the name of the President Lluís Companys, who was shot dead by fascists in 1940.

It is important to remark that this year’s event was held in very difficult times for Barcelona and whole Catalonia. Less than a week earlier, a very hard court judgement was made public: A number of Catalan politicians and social movements’ leaders were sentenced to long imprisonment, and the country experienced days of mass mobilizations. As a result, we notify that this year’s edition had fewer participants than in previous years. However, around 60 people participated in the walk, 180 in the race, and we counted with the help of around 80 volunteers.

As the walk is fit for any person, little children and very elderly people participated in it. In one of the emblematic spots of the walk, the Montjuic Castle, every year a person related with the historical memory gives a briefing of some event or of a person of interest. This year, Carles Vallejo, President of the Association of former political prisoners of the Franquism, gave an explanation about José Barón, who was born in Almeria and emigrated with his family to Melilla. He was an amateur sportsman of the Spanish Sportive Club. On 13th of July 1936, he left Melilla to participate in the 1000 meters race in the Olympics of Barcelona – Olympics which, however, were not celebrated. He fought in Spain and later against fascism in France where he died during the liberation.

This year, apart from the graphic material that remembers President Lluís Companys and the International Brigade members, we also wanted to highlight the female participation.

Delivering the trophies, we were accompanied by different social personalities, among them were Jordi and Elisa Canovas, who maintain alive the flame and spirit of their father, Antoni Canovas, antifascist fighter and athlete, who passed away last year. He was one of the youngsters who participated in the Popular Olympiad and the franquist coup d’état forced him to fight in the war. Joan Josep Nuet, Deputy in the Spanish Courts, and Alba Blanco, member of the executive of the Party of the European Left were also present.

We encourage everyone – women, men and children, all people regardless of age – to participate in the next edition. In 2020 we will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the shooting of President Lluís Companys, the only democratic President in Europe ever shot dead by fascists.

For further information

Race Companys: https://cursacompanys.cat/

photos XII Race: https://cursacompanys.cat/multimedia/

Carles Vallejo: José Barón i l’Olimpíada Popular de Barcelona: https://fundacioalternativa.cat/jose-baron-lolimpiada-popular-barcelona/