Sofico Gent Marathon. Stories of participants


Last Sunday's Sofico Gent Marathon gathered over 10,000 competitors from numerous countries, making it one of the largest sport events in Europe. Colleagues from Sofico chose not to sit on the sidelines and instead to take part. In this piece, we'd like to tell you about Ignacio and Stefaan, who completed the full marathon. What did they go through? What was their driving force? What thoughts did they have while running?


Ignacio's story begins in March 2020, when the COVID pandemic started. Ignacio completed his IT training in Belgium. Suddenly lockdown was imposed, and he was required to return to Mexico as soon as possible. Two years have gone by, and the world has changed. "My friend Bart Mistiaen told me that I left Belgium in 2020 when the pandemic began, and now I’m returning when the pandemic appears to be coming to an end. For me, this has been a personal challenge to turn the page and take a deep breath to move forward for brighter times; To meet this challenge, I began training at the beginning of this year."

"As part of his marathon preparation, Arne suggested Ignacio practice wall climbing."

I was greeted warmly by Marharyta and David on Saturday, and I was given a private tour to learn about how the event was organized


On Sunday, I began to run the marathon with Bart. I can't think of a better running companion,- says Ignacio.

Ignacio received a lot of encouragement along the route, as people mentioned the Mexican flag on his T-shirt. Someone even took a selfie with him.

"As I approached Kilometer 30, I heard an encouraging shout 'Ignacio, you can do it,' and it was Katrien Cobbaert... Thank you very much, Katrien!

Finally, I finished in 4 hours and 59 minutes. I'm delighted to have reached the finish line."

"I'm extremely happy to be back in Belgium; to visit my  SOFICO's family. I just want to say to SOFICO and Belgium... Gracias … ¡Totales!


Stefaan is originally from Kortrijk, a city that made him fall in love of running. He joined a running group in 2019 and began preparing for a long-distance run. "It's easier to run in a group. You train with people who give you a competitive feeling, and you have someone who always encourages you."​​​​​​​

Even before this, racing had caught Stefaan's attention. In 2017, he set a goal of running a half marathon, which he accomplished in Brugge. After that, he thought that it wasn't enough for him and he wanted to run the entire marathon. Running 3 times per week became a routine.
However, due to Covid and injury in 2021, he was unable to challenge himself. So he just looked forward to the Sofico Gent Marathon in 2022.

"The marathon was tough, especially at the end.  My muscles told me I had to stop," Stefaan recalls his feelings during the marathon. "The last 10 kilometers were the most difficult for me. It is no longer about how physically prepared you are at that point, but rather how mentally prepared you are. After these last kilometers, you experience the most beautiful moment of the marathon, when you enter Topsporthal."

... the most beautiful moment of the marathon, when you enter Topsporthal."


For Stefaan one of the things that kept him going to the end was the spectators' support.

"Nothing motivates you more than encouragement from strangers along the way.  Especially when you see someone holding a bright poster and shouting, "You can do it!" Go!”. That distinguishes a marathon from a weekly run outside."

Stefaan especially enjoyed the marathon course, which passed through the city center. When the scenery changes, running becomes less monotonous.

"I'm glad I did it now. My goal was just to finish without any time, so I'm more than satisfied with the results. But if you ask if I want to do it again, I won't be able to give you a definitive answer. I don't say no, but I don't say yes either."


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