My favourite running song in the world…ever!

Thank you for your kind comments about my somewhat heavy, slightly depressing post on Saturday as I tried to process my thoughts about a lot of things. I really appreciated your thoughts and wisdom.

On a lighter note…

In the car today, the Dude asked me: ‘Mummy, what’s your bestest song in the world EVER’. I had so much fun telling, playing it for him and talking him through why it’s special to me that I thought it might be fun to share it and to find out your favourite songs too! Because this is a running blog, my question actually is:’What’s your favourite running song in the world EVER?’ And why?

My favourite song and favourite running song happen to be the same. It’s a very unlikely choice, not a traditional running song at all. It’s ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe.

You can watch the video here.  The actual song starts at 1.16.

I love this song SO much. I think it’s just beautiful. I love the dramatic build up  and when the ‘bells’ chime in at the start I get goosebumps every single time. I love Freddie’s voice and how it works so beautifully against Montserrat’s amazing vocals. I love the drama of the song – the quiet against the swell, the lyrics, I love Montserrat’s wonderfully controlled scale at the end…oh I adore this song.

It’s special to me for two reasons. This was the BBC theme song for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics which were the first Olympics I really got into. I used to watch it every night with my Mum and the opening credits played this song with the swirling flamenco girl and the fountains. And now that I live on the other side of the world from my little Mum, every time I play the song I remember so clearly standing in the kitchen with my bare feet on the cold white tiles, cheering on Linford Christie. It makes me miss my Mum so much, but in a nice way. It spirits me home for a moment.

The dancing fountains of Barcelona
The dancing fountains of Barcelona

The second reason I love it is this. When I was four months pregnant, the Husband and I went to Barcelona for the weekend. It’s a beautiful city, you should go! On the first night, we went for cocktails at Boadas (best cocktail bar in the city – they made me the most amazing non-alcoholic mojito) and then went to see the dancing fountains. I was dying to see them ‘dance’ to this song. They played a couple of songs, it was all beautiful and then the lights went out, there was no more music. I was gutted, but we turned away and walked back to the metro station.

And suddenly, ‘Barcelona’ rang out. We spun around and they started playing this gorgeous song with the dancing fountains I remembered. It was such a magical surprise. I was there with my lovely husband in this beautiful city, they were playing ‘my song’ and the fountains were dancing. I was jam-packed full of baby-growing hormones and I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. It was one of my favourite memories ever!

The Husband has a great antipathy to nice, smiley, romantic couple-photos
The Husband has a great antipathy to nice, smiley, romantic couple-photos


This song is on all of my race playlists. I think the operatic values make it a little special – I don’t listen to much opera so it stands out from the Eminem-type songs that I usually use to gee me up for a race!  It never fails to make me happy. Often, it seems to kick in on a race or just on a run at a really special moment. I don’t usually listen to music on trails but sometimes I put this on as it seems to fit the environment so well. I have so many memories of running along and this song comes on and I’m suddenly just so overwhelmingly happy to be running wherever I am.

So there you go. My favourite running song in the world ever. Please…tell me yours!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Sharyn says:

    How lovely that it is associated with such special memories 🙂 My favourite running song (at the moment – because they change over time and no one song has ever lasted the distance!) is Happy by Pharrell Williams. I’m a latecomer to this song, I only downloaded it a few weeks ago. But at the moment I have it on continuous loop when I’m running. A couple of weeks ago I did a 90 min and listened to that song continuously for the whole run. I guess I’ll take it off continuous loop at some point and it will be added to my general running playlist, but for the moment it makes me happy 🙂

  2. Nic J says:

    Good post (and great question A!). I was thinking about this tune a few months ago and found a YouTube clip of it – shivers and goosebumps from start to finish! Freddie could SO have been an opera singer, and this proves it. I think it was this tune that got me starting to like opera (with the scene in Pretty Woman converting me totally), and with my current singing lesson progress, I can even join Montserrat on the high notes now!
    What would I choose? Not sure – different songs work for different moods. To get me to sleep, I play (in my mind) the Mouse Waltz (Beatrix Potter ballet) that I had on my tape for revising our GCSEs (you know, the one where you got told off for actually singing out loud…); for a good lung buster, ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele (as is Il Mio Bel Foco). Weirdly, the tune I would definitely play at my funeral, and which probably makes my top 3 is another Queen one, “Don’t Stop me Now”. I’ll be crossing the finish line of Red Rock Canyon to that one (although I could trade you Barcelona at a pinch!) x

  3. Grace says:

    Oh my gosh.
    1992 Olympics: My cousins and I are watching the track races on TV. We go outside and have our own little races around the neighbourhood. I run flat out till I almost puke. It feels great. I am hooked.

    Favourite running song: ‘All the Pretty Girls’ by Fun 🙂

  4. Great song and memories attached. I don’t run with music but if I did my favorite running song would be anything that has a fast beat to keep me moving. 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yeah, that does help, doesn’t it!

  5. Jen says:

    Great post, and I love the memories you have associated with the song. My favorite running song is probably “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. It’s pepped me up a number of times during slogs, and revived KP during her 1st 50 miler. It was miraculous!

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