Legendary local ultramarathon runner 'Super Paco' dies aged 81

Paco Contreras, during one of his recent races.
Paco Contreras, during one of his recent races. / SUR
  • His age and unconventional clothing won him many admirers

Malaga has lost a local legend after the death on Tuesday of Paco Contreras, known by some as Grandpa Paco, but most popularly as Super Paco. The cause of death was throat cancer, which was detected at the beginning of this summer, by which time it had already spread.

Super Paco found fame not as an actor or singer or public figure of any sort, but as a regular competitor in races, with his age and unconventional clothing winning him many admirers.

He stood out like a sore thumb among the 3,000 or so participants in Ronda's 101km race. Wearing a straw hat, a baggy shirt and work trousers, he went up against competitors clad in the best running gear money could buy.

He defended his choice of attire - he would dress the same way when picking olives in his day-job - as more comfortable than what others would wear.

"If there are brambles, they don't scratch my legs", he explained in one of his last interviews with SUR, "and if it's too hot, I just undo one button on my shirt and I'm fine."

It was in his farmer's clothes that he completed the arduous Ronda route in a respectable 19-and-a-half hours. In his time, he also competed in the Summum Ultra Cup, a route comprised of six mountain races over 700km long in total. Needless to say, Super Paco finished all of them.

Paco's career as a runner began when, at 60 years of age, his doctor told him to get more exercise to combat a worrying rise in his cholesterol levels. He began to go for runs in the mountains, not taking note of the mockery of some of his neighbours.

"They told me I was crazy, that I'd end up breaking something going jogging. But lots of them are running too now," he reminisced.