Nike University Run, Barcelona

I participated in the Nike University Run tonight.

It was an exciting, crazy, wild run of more than two hundred amateur and professional runners through the old and new city streets. We raced through traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, and through narrow alleys lined with tables, chairs, street performers and salesmen.

Each runner had to reach five places shown (roughly) on a map before the final destination in order to be allowed into the bar where Nike gave each participant a shirt, water, and hot dogs, and played dance music.

Each location for the card punch also presented a challenge, physical or mental. The first was a line of U.S. style football players in full gear. Each runner had to line up and rush through. I got hit in the nose (unintentionally) and was instantly bleeding. As I ran past restaurants I grabbed napkins and then deposited them in the next trash can. Between restaurants the sleeves of my polar fleece became soaked. I kept bleeding. I kept running. It was just too much fun to stop.

As we moved from the open streets to the closed, narrow corridors off Las Ramblas, we picked up the pace and moved with greater agility. Arms over our heads to avoid knocking down children, ducking beneath restaurant patron umbrellas, leaping over handrails and intersection barriers. There is something compelling about running in the close proximity of many runners and even more moving objects (shoppers with too many bags, kids in strollers, small dogs) for the sense of motion is accelerated and the pleasure in movement amplified. My energy never waned, as though I were pressed along by those to my rear and pulled by those to my front.

My favorite part was the look on the faces of those we ran past, their heads spinning as packs of runners ran in one direction, then realizing they missed a turn, spun on their heels and shot back past the unwary spectator-participants sometimes more than a few times.