No marathon? Jan runs anyway

Jan Galema, followed by his wife, Marianne, on her bike, doing his one-man-half-marathon. Photo credit: Charella Zwerts/Studio040

Eindhoven resident, Jan Galema, doesn’t need to take part in the official Eindhoven marathon. 

It was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. Galema, who’s 74, decided to run anyway. He covered a distance of more than 21 kilometres on Sunday. Accompanied by supporters from family and friends, Jan collected a €900 for charity.

Jan’s a trained distance runner. He’s taken part in half-marathons no less than nine times. But they were always with onlookers and on a marked course.

Didn’t get put off

You can walk on these, not hindered by crossing traffic, traffic lights and other delays. The prospect of stumbling along at a self-planned half-marathon, didn’t prevent Galema from fulfilling his plan. There was a nice extra goal to achieve – raise money for the cancer organisation, KWF. Jan is a cancer survivor himself.

With a solid plate of pasta and many training kilometres behind him, Jan started his round on Sunday at 14:00. It led from Woensel, via Tongelre (‘t Hofke), Eindhoven centre, Lijmbeek, and Achtse Barrier. The predicted bad weather didn’t concern Jan.

“I’ll just take shelter if it hails or storms,” he said. It didn’t get that far. Except for a bit drizzling, the weather held. Only Jan’s forehead didn’t keep dry.


Galema had included the home addresses of family and friends in his route. They, in turn, walked with him in relay form. “Hopefully, this will give him wings”, daughter-in-law Amber remarked.

Jan didn’t seem to need encouragement. “That just distracts him. Company is enough for him to keep him going.”

Jan remarked on that. “That really helped. You always have moments in a race when things start to hurt. I had that now at 13 kilometres. But with this support, I didn’t really feel it.”

Took 2.5 hrs

Tired but satisfied, and with loud applause from neighbours, Jan finally crossed the line after more than 2.5 hours. It was at his house on Liviuslaan.

He had enjoyed it, he said, still panting. “I did go wrong somewhere. But, fortunately, we realised that quickly enough. That made it a bit longer than that a half-marathon.”

Marianne, Jan’s husband, had cycled the whole trip behind him. She was, naturally, very proud. “It was a day with a golden lining, with all our family and friends present,” she says.

Source: Studio040

Translator: Bob

Editor: Melinda Walraven

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