Locked down due to virus, man com­pletes marathon on his bal­cony

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CORONAVIRU­S OUTBREAK - By Ni­co­las Gar­riga

PARIS — In the age of con­fine­ment, Elisha No­chomovitz fig­ured out a way to run a marathon any­way — back and forth on his bal­cony.

He ran 26.2 miles, never leav­ing his 23-foot bal­cony.

He saw it as a phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenge, but he also shared the images on­line as a way “to ex­tend my support to the en­tire med­i­cal per­son­nel who are do­ing an ex­cep­tional job,” he said from his apart­ment in Balma, a sub­urb of the south­ern French city of Toulouse. Like ath­letes who ran around their Wuhan apart­ments or cy­clists who found ways to train in their locked-down Abu Dhabi ho­tel rooms, No­chomovitz wanted to show oth­ers that it’s pos­si­ble to stay fit as virus con­tain­ment measures tighten around the world. He also wanted to lighten the mood.

“It was about launch­ing a bit of a crazy chal­lenge and bring­ing a bit of hu­mor, to de-dra­ma­tize the con­fine­ment sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

He didn’t ex­actly make record time. It took him six hours and 48 min­utes.

He got nau­seous, and got wor­ried the neigh­bors would com­plain about the pound­ing of his foot­steps. But he did it. Tech­ni­cally the French au­thor­i­ties still al­low peo­ple to go out­side for “in­di­vid­ual sports” like run­ning, if they sign a spe­cial form ex­plain­ing why.

But the num­ber of jog­gers in French streets has mul­ti­plied in re­cent days, amid ex­cep­tion­ally balmy weather. That has au­thor­i­ties wor­ried that too many peo­ple are still out in the streets, threat­en­ing ef­forts to con­tain the virus.

“If ev­ery­one thinks the same way and does the same thing, we’ll all find our­selves out­side and that won’t help any­thing, and the mes­sage that we need to stay con­fined at home will have had no im­pact,” he said.

No­chomovitz, who had been train­ing for a marathon, lost track of how many laps he did, but his pe­dome­ter kept track while his mind wan­dered. “I thought about many things, what’s go­ing to hap­pen, when I see that the world has stopped, sports, econ­omy, finance,” he said. “We learned in his­tory about wars be­tween na­tions, men and weapons, but this is some­thing that is be­yond us.”

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