Simon Alvarado keeps running. He did it 40 years after doing it for the first time, because he’s still passionate about the activity that caught his attention after he left swimming.
He holds five national marks, all imposed in the mid-1980s, when he was still young and had little opposition in long-distance tests.
“They are still the same. I have records of 3,000, 5,000 square meters on the race track, a 21-kilometer test, a 34-year-old, and one for the mile.”
For the 59-year-old runner, there are many reasons supporting the persistence of these brands; Basically two. The first is that federal activity has been reduced to one championship per year. The second is that you are no longer running “for honor”, but rather for prizes.
This is the difference from athletics in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, when the sport was much poorer than it is today, but remained in constant activity with four or five competitions a year.
The Standard Man
Simon doesn’t seem to have hit the target yet. He is in constant training, in the midst of a pandemic, he has kept many specialties in “families”, including his specialty.
Last year, he participated in two competitions, one in virtual form, in the master class, and the other in person.
“I competed in the Global Virtual Masters degree organized in Canada. I was in the first six places in the 10,000-meter test, then here I won the 21-kilometer race, and it mixed.”
He indicated that he had to send his registration to Canada, at the event that took place last August. “The clocks that determine your speed, distance, and running style were used, an average was obtained and the result transmitted.”
“The competition organized by Corredores del Istmo in November was more face to face, although those who were in the interior of the country did so by default,” he said.
In testing, the sanitary measures requested by the health authorities were preserved, including the maintenance of a wise distance between competitors.
Simon has always been a contender for the highest category in athletics, because he started around the age of 18, when he realized that his active life was ending with swimming.
“Before I was a runner I was a swimmer with Barracudas, but when I was 17 years old there wasn’t much activity. I was also doing very well in athletics,” he said.
Swimming took him to the Central American Games in El Salvador in 1977, where he was pinned for the silver in the 400 mixed relay.
“In athletics, I easily entered the adult category despite being almost young, and after about four years I started breaking national records. It’s become a leading brand.”
The first record surpassed by Simon Alvarado in his career was 3000 meters, in a competition held in Atlanta, USA, in 1984, with a time of 8: 28.87.
The following year in New Zealand, the half marathon (1: 06.17) scored the same fate and in 1986, in Ibero-American in Havana, he broke the 5,000-meter record (14.27.45).
Then the signs came in the 21 kilometers and mile.
Alvarado has countless reasons to explain why these records have not been surpassed, but the main reason is that there are very few Federation Championships annually.
“This may be my perception, but I think that the federations are not looking for alternatives to support their championships financially, they are waiting for government assistance only through Pandeportes,” he said.
“This circumstance led them to establish national championships and alternative tournaments, such as Yan Yip Rivera Releas, Balboa Releases and the selective tournaments,” he added.
He stressed that for this reason, athletes from the categories of children, students, youth and the elderly see each other’s faces only once a year, and young people have been literally excluded from the federation tracks.
“For some time here, young people only train to compete once a year, because the tournaments and races in the stadiums are lost, which seriously harms the athlete’s growth, especially for runners,” he added.
He stressed that this situation has led to clubs, some of which are not affiliated with the federation, gaining strength and holding competitions, where they make money from running.
“Before that, I ran for the honor of doing this and being among the best or just to participate;” Today, if there is no reward, they will not go. “
The lack of action on the part of the leadership has also greatly deteriorated the quality of the national athlete.
He warned, “Today, athletes do not drop below 15 or 16 minutes in the 5,000-meter distance, while before that we were between 15 and 16 running under those times.”
“There might be some good people, but before that there was a very strong waste; now, there is a few or one runner per test,” he concluded.
Along these lines, he noted that when he was running there were many internationally famous runners, such as Alfonso Peters, Florencio Aguilar and Hector Daly from Colón.
Alvarado, along with the members of Team Simon, are currently on the slopes, or rather, on the streets of Panama, because there are no paths to do so in the city.