Fez - Thousands of runners laced-up their shoes on Sunday, January 26th, to take part in Marrakesh’s 25th annual marathon.
Fez – Thousands of runners laced-up their shoes on Sunday, January 26th, to take part in Marrakesh’s 25th annual marathon.
Runners from around the world ran side-by-side with Moroccan runners to participate in this year’s race. The event included the standard 42-kilometer full marathon as well as a 21-kilometer half marathon.
The flat course took runners on a footrace around Marrakesh. Marathoners kicked-off the event at Avenue de la Menara and continued through other parts of the city including Al Manara, Agdal Gardens, the leather souk, and some of Marrakesh’s lesser known neighborhoods. Locals and school children from Marrakesh lined the streets to cheer for runners as they sped by, giving high-fives and applause to encourage marathoners.
Marathoners visiting from Europe found respite from the cold in the warm weather of southern Morocco. Richard Stark, a runner from Sweden was excited to race in the warm weather. “I feel really good because right now in Sweden it’s about minus ten degrees. I ran this week in Sweden and it was really cold and this weather is much better. This is perfect,” Stark said. “It’s a great sunny day and the temperature is pretty perfect.”
The course trail looped through olive groves and the Menara gardens and gave racers a spectacular view of the white-topped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains. Visitors participating in the race said the marathon was a good reason to come to Morocco and see the attractions of Marrakesh through the racecourse. “I think it’s the best way to see a city,” Coralie Pearson, a half-marathoner from England, said.
Some foreign runners also planned to travel around Morocco after the race, making the marathon the main event drawing them to the country. Julia Patefield, a runner from England said she planned a weeklong holiday to Morocco with her friends, centered on running in the marathon. “We’ve seen quite a lot already. We’ve been on a camel and we’ve been to the gardens, and we have loads of plans for tomorrow and this evening after the race,” Patefield said. “I haven’t just come for the run, it’s for everything.”
Marathoners were able to compete as individuals or teams and men and women of all ages pounded the pavement around the city to compete in the race. Obi Deribe Melka from Ethiopia was the first to finish the full-marathon with a time of 2:08, and Tolwak Meseret Kitata from Ethiopia, finished first for the women’s marathon with a time of 2:31. Full race results are currently available online.
While some runners chose to compete in the full 42-kilometer distance, most runners opted for the semi-marathon. The course wound around the city, making a large loop and racers made their way into the Gueliz neighborhood for the last kilometer of the race and finally crossed the finish line back at Avenue de la Menara where the race started.
The race was well organized and well attended. Finishers received medals and refueling supplies after crossing the finish line where a celebratory atmosphere swept across the crowds of finishers.
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