Characters Met While Jogging in Madrid

Jogging in Madrid is my preferred form of exercise for many reasons: it takes very little coordination, it clears my mind, it’s NOT a team sport, and–last but not least–it does not require a gym membership. The thought of joining a gym and being in such a close, confined space with other sweaty beings has always seemed icky, so jogging al fresco is the logical choice.

jogging in Madrid

Jogging in Madrid = only a pair of sneakers and ya esta!

Now that warm weather is here to stay, I am back to lacing up my tennis shoes for a few laps around the park. Ever since moving to a new neighborhood, my morning (or afternoon, or evening…) run has been, er, rather interesting. With so many new people, new places, and new things, I decided to keep a written record of some of the unusual and the noteworthy spied during my jog. Ultimately, it was not the sights but rather the human element that captured my interest. Below is a brief catalog of the colorful characters I’ve run into while jogging in Madrid:

Early March – The flower vendor

The first day I ran by his stand, the street flower vendor threw me a piropo. Can I avoid his side of the street forever? Even better, can I just quit jogging? On subsequent occasions his business partner/girlfriend scowled at me, but lately she too has been cajoling me to buy a bouquet of carnations.

Monday March 10 – The tunnel lovers

I can’t help but compare my old jogging haunts to my new one. Before I was doing laps around an Egyptian temple, and now I’m at a park next to the M-30 that has gang signs and phallic symbols graffitied everywhere. This will take some getting used to. Today I crossed under the sketchy tunnel and saw two shadowy figures that I intended to run past as quickly as possible. As I grew nearer, I noticed that the pair wore matching leather outfits. They held an embrace that lasted until I was out of sight.

Thursday, March 20 – The scavengers

Today at Parque de Berlín I noticed three men pushing shopping carts filled with various items like clothes and food. They didn’t seem to be collecting things from the street, so I couldn’t help but wonder if they were homeless.

Monday, March 31 – The breakfasters

The weather is warming up, and people are beginning to have breakfast outside. (It’s also nicer for a morning jog!) At a bar advertising “sumo de naranja,” a businessman focused on his newspaper while a gaggle of older women animatedly gossiped over coffee and toast.

Sunday, April 6 – The human watering can

As I was rounding the corner of the soccer field, I noticed an older gentleman hovering over some bushes. It wasn’t until I was several feet closer that I realized he was peeing! Mental note: Stay far, far away from the bushes.

Sunday, April 13 – Nuns, kids, and enterprising gypsies

Nuns in full attire, gypsies selling palm branches out of a van, and kids dressed to the hilt in matching outfits–it must be Palm Sunday. The enterprising gypsies yelled at me to buy from them as I got closer, and I noticed that a suspiciously familiar flower vendor was with them.

Sometime in May – The beach bum / That smelly dude

There were two notable older gentlemen in the park today, and the only thing they had in common was that they were treating this public area as their personal playground. One was sprawled in the sun, shirt off and newspaper unfurled in his lap. The other was clogging my airspace with the heinous, sulfurous smell of his chubby cigar.

 Saturday, June 7 – The rose nabber

Very near to the park is the headquarters of a famous tech company. They have the money for a manicured lawn and flowering rosebushes, so they have created just that. Today, as I was rounding this company’s building, I noticed a couple of retirement age strolling along in front of me. The woman whipped out a set of shears and plucked roses of every color, as if she were in her own backyard. Her husband stood by holding the roses as she cut and arranged them in his ready hands–red, white, pink, yellow, repeat.

 Friday, June 20 – The smokin’ hot duo

Have I mentioned anything about European boys and their short shorts? There were two boys about my age that were circling the park today with equal intensity (and with equally short shorts). With their unflagging strides, they looked like the picture of health. After several laps, the pair unexpectedly veered off the path and headed straight for a park bench. When I eventually circled around to their spot, they were putting the finishing touches on their hand-rolled cigarettes.

All during the year – The plain Jane

There is a woman I often see who propels herself slowly around the periphery of the park. She doesn’t own any swanky jogging clothes, and perhaps calling her “a jogger” is being generous. However, she is admirable in her perseverance.

It motivates me to see her, unexpectedly so. Perhaps now I understand a bit more about the motivation a visit to the gym entails. Only, I still prefer to jog outside, a safe distance from all of the other characters. And, with my college T-shirt, so unlike anything else at the park, it’s safe to assume that I’m considered a character myself.

Fancy jogging in Madrid? First, check out these related links:

Madrid Running Routes – map a route around your barrio

Running in Spain – Kaley muses about tying those running laces in Spain

 Have you met any characters while jogging in Madrid? Please comment below!


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  1. So interesting! This is the only reason I like(d) running through cities – the ‘wildlife’!

  2. Thanks for linking to me!

    I love the short shorts 🙂

  3. Ha! I loved reading this post. You really showed us some fascinating characters you have, uh, run into while jogging. I like that you thought of yourself as another of the interesting people who you find while out and about in Madrid—college t-shirt clad versus the typical hardcore fluorescent polyester garb that many Spaniards wear 😀

    • Cassandra

      This “exercise” in jogging was particularly interesting for me in that it introduced me to so many kinds of people I don’t typically interact with. Gracias for your kind comment!

  4. Glad to know that the twinning-couples fashion has made it to Europe from Asia 😉

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