Elisha Nochomovitz, a 32-year-old French Jew, was to be among the 17,000 participants in the Barcelona Marathon on March 15.
But the marathon, one of Europe’s most popular running events, was postponed to October because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Still, Nochomovitz found a way to do what he had been training for despite being forced to spend the past month confined to his apartment in Balma, near Toulouse, under lockdown. (He had worked at a restaurant in Toulouse, but that was shut down, too, because of the virus.)
He ran an entire marathon, 26.2 miles, on his balcony — a balcony only 21 feet long.
Nochomovitz, a veteran marathoner, completed the recent balcony run in 6 hours, 48 minutes — more than double his usual time because he had to turn on his heels every few seconds.
But the initiative, filmed by his girlfriend Marie and uploaded to YouTube, turned Nochomovitz into an international symbol. He has been featured on CNN and CNBC, as well as in dozens of publications, including The Guardian, Time and Newsweek.
“I told myself it’s the best way to take the edge off the lockdown, do some crazy challenge on the balcony but also as a gesture of support for the medical personnel,” he said in a video interview that he gave Le Parisien.
He didn’t stop there: Nochomovitz did two more marathons, on his porch, improving his time considerably, the NRC Handelsblad daily in the Netherlands reported.
On March 31, he lowered his time by two hours. Neighbors cheered him on as Marie offered liquids, dry T-shirts and candy.
Lockdown measures in the Toulouse area would have allowed Nochomovitz to run laps outside his home, NRC reported. But he said he decided to limit himself to his artificial turf porch all the same “to make it more challenging.”
Besides, as NRC noted, Nochomovitz’s balcony offers a stunning and unobstructed view of the Pyrenees Mountains.