XIII edition of the Lluís Companys Race and Walk

The Lluís Companys Race and Walk, which this year celebrates its 13th anniversary, is a project of the Catalan member organization of transform! Fundació l’Alternativa.

It has two objectives; on the one hand, to remember and commemorate the Popular Olympiad that was to be held in Barcelona in July 1936 as a counterpoint to the Olympic Games that the Olympic Committee had awarded in Berlin. This Popular Olympiad had to be an event not only  of sport, but also social and cultural, but it was not held because of the fascist coup d’état; some of the athletes who had come to Barcelona stayed to defend the Republic and constituted the embryo of the International Brigades. The other objective is to remember Lluís Companys, President of the Generalitat shot on October 15, 1940 by the fascists (see historic background below).

That is why the Race and the Walk, beyond bearing the name of the President, is carried out, in an important location in the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium in Barcelona and surroundings.

The Foundation collaborates and organizes many events, seminars, events… but none of the volume of the Race and Walk. Event, which has made a name for itself and is recognized in sports events in the city of Barcelona.

To organize and celebrate this event, which has both a sporting and a cultural aspect, we have the collaboration of various grants from Catalonia and Europe. This year, like all the others, around the month of February, we already started to prepare the project. Meet with the sports entity that coordinates the race, present the project to the various instances, make translations, budgets, designs…

This year, in addition, we wanted to pay special recognition to Lluís Companys, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of his execution. We chose a design for the bag and T-shirt with his face, we commissioned a book from a young historian with a short biography to distribute to the runners and walkers, we prepared an exhibition to have it in the stadium, because we have verified that it is very appreciated by all of the participants. In the preparations, it is necessary to specify the rental of the Stadium, the ambulances, the insurances, the waters, the supplies, the security protocols… A lot of tasks that can seem unimportant but that require time and dedication. This year, it has also been necessary to reformulate the project in order to ensure maximum safety: entry and exit circuits, exit of runners and staggered runners, masks, hydroalcoholic gel…

In September, we already saw that the evolution of the pandemic was putting the event in danger and we met at the Board of Trustees of the Foundation to propose moving the race to virtual format. And keep the walk.

La Nova Fita, which coordinates the sports part, was in charge of looking for an App that was reliable and that responded to our interests. They translated the App into Catalan (they were in Spanish), to offer a career in Catalan all over the world. Now everybody could register, free of charge in the virtual Race through the viRACE App and make tribute to President Companys and remember the Popular Olympiad safely in the context of the pandemic.

Now, with the race already carried out in this format, we can say that it has been a success because although we have lost the joy of the party and the communications of the face-to-face meeting, the format with the APP has allowed people from different parts of Catalonia, of the Spanish State and of Europe to participate. And in the assessment that we made, we already found that for other years we will have to consider the two modalities: Face-to-face and virtual.

Despite the difficulties, the last minute changes and the adaptations, we keep going and nothing will stop us: we will fight again, we will suffer again and we will run again!

Historic Background

In 1936, Barcelona was one of the candidate cities for hosting the 1936 Olympic Games. However, on April 14th, 1931, eleven days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decisive meeting, the Catalan capital proclaimed the 2nd Republic. Finally, the aristocratic ones of the IOC preferred to decide for the conservative Berlin (43 votes) and not for the Republican and progressive Barcelona (16 votes).

Two years later, the Nazis took power in Germany (in 1933) and Hitler saw the Berlin Olympic Games as an excellent propaganda opportunity for his regime.

The idea of running the People’s Games

In Spain, the elections held in February 1936 were won by the Popular Front in Madrid, and the Front of the Left (Front d’Esquerres) in Catalonia.

In March 1936, the Catalan Pro People’s Sport Committee (CCEP_ Comitè Català pro Esport Popular_ according to the acronym in Catalan) was created with the aim of improving a massive sporting event, making sports accessible to everyone.

In April 1936, the CCEP had the idea of organizing an international people’s games as an alternative to the fascist Berlin Olympic Games.