06 JAN 1999 General News

A Day in the Life of Abel Anton

A day in the life of Abel Anton

Abel Anton lives in the Spanish town of Soria approximately 200 kilometres north-east of Mardid. The winner of the men’s marathon at the 1997 World Championships and the 1998 Flora London marathon shares his Christmas Day with us.

"Christmas in any Spanish family actually begins the night before when we all get together for a Christmas Eve meal of which the centre piece is always the langoustines - giant prawns. The three of us - my wife Belen and my four year-old daughter Tatiana - go around to the house of my wife’s parents, who live in the same town, and have dinner there with her two brothers and their families.

I got to bed late on Christmas Eve and so on Christmas Day itself I was up around 9am. I’m usually a relatively late riser anyway but I had the luxury of a little longer in bed on Christmas Day.

Tatiana is now of an age where she does not cause too much havoc in the mornings but by 9am she could not wait any longer to see what Father Christmas had brought her. After the previous night’s feast I just had a little light breakfast and then let it settle down before going out for a run around 11am. My Christmas Day run was just 40 minutes done very gently. A lot of my running is done in the nearby Valonsadero forest and I went out there on Christmas Day like so often in the past. It’s a huge area of woods and grassland and it is ideal for most of my training. Usually I would train twice a day but I think on Christmas Day once is enough. The outing was more about running off a few of the previous night’s calories and keeping the legs turning over. I’ve also got a slight calf twinge at the moment, nothing too serious, but enough to make me think twice about training too hard. At least the weather was fine and not particularly cold.

At the back of my mind as well was a race I was committed to on December 26. It was only a short race but nevertheless I did not want to tire myself out too much. As much as I love running, having to go out on Christmas Day is one thing I will not miss when I retire. Being a full-time athlete is a great life but training on Christmas Day is hard work, I do it mainly because running is my job. I’m 36 and my international career cannot go on much longer so I’ve thought about retirement - and having Christmas off!. The way I’m thinking at the moment is ‘the Sydney Olympics and that’s it’ but if things go well in Sydney maybe I’ll carry on for another year.

When I got back from my run, I had a quick change and a shower and spent the next few hours playing with Tatiana and her presents.This year she got a toy car, that she can sit in and drive around, and a dolls house although she’ll get some more presents on January 6th - Kings’ Day - which is traditionally in Spain when most presents are given. Like any four year old she wants your attention all the time and at least on Christmas Day I can give her all she wants.

One of the great things about being a professional runner is that I can spend quite a lot of time with my family when I am actually in Soria. However inevitably I am away a lot as well and so I try to do as much as I can with Tatiana when I am at home, especially at Christmas.This year will be the last though that Tatiana gets my undivided attention. My wife is pregnant and expecting our second child in March so things will be very different next Christmas.

My wife’s parents came around for lunch, which was at around 3pm, and the rest of her family joined us later. We just spent the rest of the day playing cards and games, and watching a bit of television. Christmas Day is always a lot quieter than New Year’s Eve and the following day for me because traditionally that’s when we go and see my family and they come to visit us. I’ve got eight brothers and so it’s always a full and noisy house around this time.

I got to bed on Christmas Day at a reasonable time, around midnight, because of having to travel to a suburb of Madrid for the race, which takes me about two hours from Soria. Although the race is at 9pm at night I had to be at a restaurant at around 2pm to meet up with some of the other athletes for lunch - Fermin (Cacho) who I’ve known since he was a youngster, Reyes Estevez, Martin Fiz and Issac Viciosa were all going to be there - and so it was a case of not getting to bed too late if I wanted to do everything I needed to, the following morning.

Postscript: Issac Viciosa won the IV San Silvestre Mostelena race on December 26 over 6.2km in 19:13. Abel Anton finished 4th in 19.26.

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