Reyes Estávez, 47 years old and still winning popular races: “I will be 85 and still running”


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Retired in 2010, the former rival of El Guerrouj and Cacho now accumulates successes in half marathons and 10 and 5 kilometer events throughout Spain. “I just want to be healthy, I don’t care about the rest,” he proclaims.

Reyes Est
Reyes Estvez poses for EL MUNDO in Sant CugatPedro Salado / Araba Press
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Reyes Estvez, what talent. At nine years old, when he started running, he was already winning. At 20 years old, when he reached the elite, he continued winning. And now at 47 years old, when he is just another popular guy, he still wins. Reyes Estvez, what a talent. That has haunted me and it is a lie. Athletics is a sport of training, consistency, and regularity. It has always seemed that I was touched by a wand, that I won without trying, but that is impossible, explains to EL MUNDO who won bronze in the 1,500 meters at the 1997 and 1999 World Cups and European champion in 1998.

Before I fought with Hicham El Guerrouj and Fermn Cacho and now with the office colleague or the third-party neighbor in the Jean Bouin in Barcelona or in the Madrid fans’ derby. Based in Sant Cugat, very close to the High Performance Center (CAR) where he spent his adolescence and youth, his case is strange: he stopped competing, but continued training.

Why?
When I retired in 2010, I almost didn’t run for a couple of years, burned out after so much time in the elite, but then my body asked me to return. To sleep better, to be at my weight, to feel good mentally. I was going out two or three days a week, combining it with swimming or cycling, until the pandemic arrived. During confinement I had no other entertainment than running on the treadmill and doing strength training and when I went outside I realized that I was going fast. I signed up for the five kilometers of the Cursa dels Nassos [la San Silvestre de Barcelona]I finished in 14 minutes and I said: Holy shit!

In the last two years, Estvez has been fourth in the Spanish Marathon Championships, has won half marathons and 10 and 5 kilometer races all over the country and has broken a handful of national records that are more than 40 years old. This Sunday, in the Valencia marathon, he finished among the top 100, in 2:18:17, a Spanish record for those over 45. And despite his age, he does not see a finish.

Pedro Salado / Araba Press

I am having fun. I have no pressure, I go to the races to socialize. If I can fight for victory, perfect, if I finish tenth, too. And if I don’t have injuries it will always be like that. At 65, 75 or 85 years old I will continue running to stay healthy. If now I try to go three minutes per kilometer, in the future I will try to go four and thus be entertained, summarizes Estvez, today an ambassador for Hoka or Runners CaixaBank, whom some still identify as that very tall boy with dyed blonde hair.

In his time, athletics made you famous. How did you handle it when people stopped stopping you on the street?
I appreciated it very much. There was a time when people knew me everywhere, that gossip was created around me. He went out to dinner one day and was already a party animal. That fame was created for me. There was also a time when they helped me with everything and when I left athletics that help disappeared. But it didn’t affect me at all, really. On the contrary, I enjoyed it.

There is a moment in Estvez’s career that still burns today: the 2000 Sydney Games. That was his opportunity, his was the medal and the Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) removed him from the national team. From then on, nothing was the same. It was a stick. It was unfair and from that moment on he always had that on his mind. He thought he had the enemy at home, remembers the middle distance runner who retired in a bad way. In 2010, shortly after leaving, he was involved in Operation Greyhound, although he was never charged.

Pedro Salado / Araba Press

These days, Estávez, who has recently completed his coaching course, plans to create a group of athletes under his charge near Barcelona and wants to try trail running and triathlon.

Now do you get on with the kids?
What’s up, that already happened. At nine years old I won my first race, a Jean Bouin, and the second, and the third, and later, in juniors or cadets, I would throw tremendous tantrums every time I finished second. Of spending three days crying, huh. There I learned to lose and, that’s why, when I reached the elite, competing with Cacho, El Guerrouj or Ngeny no longer frustrated me. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Now the only important thing is to be able to run, be healthy, not have injuries, everything else doesn’t matter to me.

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