Coronavirus: Man runs marathon on seven-metre balcony during lockdown

A lack of space didn't stop this French resident keeping fit amid the global pandemic

Elisha Nochomovitz poses with his medal after completing a marathon-distance run on his home balcony. Elisha Nochomovitz / Instagram
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As more than one billion people practise confinement around the world, Elisha Nochomovitz figured out a way to run a marathon – back and forth on his balcony.

The Frenchman ran 42.2 kilometres straight, never leaving the seven-metre-long space.

He saw it as a physical and mental challenge, but also shared the images online “to extend my support to the entire medical personnel who are doing an exceptional job”, he said from his apartment in Balma, a suburb of the southern city of Toulouse.

Like athletes who ran around their Wuhan apartments or cyclists who found ways to train in their locked-down Abu Dhabi hotel rooms, Nochomovitz wanted to show others that it's possible to stay fit as coronavirus containment measures tighten around the world.

He also wanted to lighten the mood.

“It was about launching a bit of a crazy challenge and bringing a bit of humour, to de-dramatise the confinement situation,” he said.

In a clip shared on social media, Nochomovitz, 32, also joked that “the course is ugly, no atmosphere”.

He didn’t exactly make record time: it took him six hours and 48 minutes. He got nauseous, and worried the neighbours would complain about the pounding of his footsteps.

Technically, French authorities still allow people to go outside for “individual sports” such as running, if they sign an official form explaining why.

France has been under virtual lockdown since last Tuesday with citizens allowed out of their homes only to buy groceries, go to work, exercise alone or seek medical care.

But the number of joggers in French streets has multiplied in recent days amid exceptionally balmy weather, leaving authorities worried that many people are still out in the streets, threatening efforts to contain Covid-19.

“If everyone thinks the same way and does the same thing, we’ll all find ourselves outside and that won’t help anything, and the message that we need to stay confined at home will have had no impact,” Nochomovitz, who had been training for a marathon, said.

“I needed to assure myself that I could still run 40 kilometres whatever the condition.”

He lost track of how many laps he completed, but his pedometer kept count of his steps while his mind wandered.

“I thought about many things – what’s going to happen, when I see that the world has stopped, sports, economy, finance,” he said. “We learnt in history about wars between nations, men and weapons, but this is something that is beyond us.”

Nochomovitz said he thought about medics in particular, describing them as “the real everyday heroes”.

The French government has said it will extend the initial two-week confinement period if needed.

“I know what I am asking of you is unprecedented but circumstances demand it,” the French President Emmanuel Macron said last Monday, announcing the measures.

“We’re not up against another army or another nation. But the enemy is right there: invisible, elusive, but it is making progress.”

In France the coronavirus has killed 562 people and infected about 14,500.