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12th Annual Half Marathon held in Colombia's capital Bogota

08-01-2011 18:36 BJT

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Bogota, the capital of Colombia, has hosted its 12th annual Half Marathon. Thousands participated in the challenging 21 kilometer run. But as our correspondent Michelle Begue reports, the event has a much deeper meaning for the Colombian people.

It was a sea of people in the streets of Colombia’s capital city. More than 44,000 participated in the Half Marathon of Bogota. 700 elite athletes participated in the 21 km road race. Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya won the race with a course record of 1 hour 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Other star athletes included Deriba Merga of Ethiopia who finished second and Wilson Chebet who came in Third.

But the race wasn’t just about the star athletes. The city welcomed participants of all ages and visitors from 34 different countries. They welcomed the challenge of running a race at such high altitude.

More than 44,000 participated in the Half Marathon of Bogota. 700 elite athletes participated in the 21 km road race.

Bruno, a Brazilian participant said,“Just the fact of being at 2,600 meters high, it changes completely your point of view once you go on the 21k run.”

Karina, also a Brazilian participant said,“The happiness and joy of the Colombians of having the race here. People singing all the time it is very nice.”

Constantino Leon, a Peruvian athlete who just won the 6th place said,“I’ve raced in different International competitions in Latin America, Europe and Asia but for us from South America it is important. This is the only race we can defend and run the same as the African athletes who are strong at sea level.

Isaac Macharia, a 4-time champion from Kenya said, “Because I started running here this was one of my very first races and I won and I’ve been coming here so many times that I feel it is home away from home

Michelle Begue from Bogota, Colombia said, “For the third consecutive year this race has won the gold label award IAAF, the International association of Athletics, this the only South American race to receive this honor and it is due to the amount of elite athletes, the international presence and the planning by the city of Bogota.”

The race is in its 12th-year and some could say it stands as a symbol of Colombia’s own race towards International respect and recognition in world events. It is a proud moment for the organizers as they try to step out of the country’s shadow of violence and narco-trafficking and into the promotion of health and well being.

Sean Wallace Jones, senior manager road running of IAAF said, “It’s in a country where if you had said 15 years ago, will they run a half marathon in Bogota, you would have said no. If you had said 10 years ago will they have a IAAF Gold Label you would have said no, but they have done it. It is a great organization, they have great athletes and its an example for the whole of Latin America. Just shows what can be done.”

Luis Ivan Correa said,“We feel very proud and the authorities of the city feel very proud that there is a possibility to have a family recreation day and an athletic and sport day so we feel very proud of that.”

Although they may not have officially won the marathon, the Colombian people stood proudly as the host of this world class event.

Editor:Li Wanran |Source: CNTV.CN

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