Festival of sport as a true present for city
On Minsk City Day, around 19,000 runners participated in Minsk’s Polo Marathon
Lithuania, Latvia and Russia sent the greatest number of runners. Officially, 16,099 participants were registered but almost 3,000 more joined on the way. Runners could choose any of the three distances: 5, 10 or 21,097km, with the shortest enjoying the greatest popularity — attracting almost 15,000 participants. Around 700 people decided to run 10km and another 1,500 braved the longest distance, which was a half-marathon. The runners were not affected by early morning rain, which soon cleared as the race began. They all started simultaneously and a mere 15 minutes later, those running the shortest distance crossed the finish line. Each participant was awarded a commemorative medal.
The Chairman of the Athletics Federation, Vadim Devyatovsky, also decided to run 5km, commenting, “It was easy to run and I’ve never before seen such a positive atmosphere! I met many people who encouraged me along the way and I can now say for sure that the first pancake is not always a failure!”
Some time later, the 10km runners finished: among the men, Sergey Yushchenko was first, Latvia’s Denis Seregin came second and Belarusian Denis Gramatovsky, third. In the women’s race, the 10km distance was won by Belarusians: Anastasia Ivanova, Olga Kravtsova and Tatiana Stepanenko.
A large-scale sporting event first organised in Minsk
Belarusian men failed to achieve a top spot in the long distance race, where first place was occupied by Ukraine’s Vitaly Shafar (who participated in the London Olympics); the second went to Ukraine’s Nikolay Yukhimchuk and third to Russia’s Sergey Popov. In the women’s distance, Olga Mazurenok led, confirming her top class position; in the past, Olga has won numerous marathons and achieved silver at the European team championships. Second and third places went to Marina Domantsevich and Nina Savina.
After the awards ceremony (where the winners of the 10 and 21,097km distances were awarded diplomas and money prizes), the President of the European Federation of Athletics, Svein Arne Hansen, summed up the results, “I’m extremely impressed with the organisation of the half-marathon in Minsk. It is unusual for competitions at this level to enjoy such success for the first time.” Mr. Hansen believes that after an athletics stadium is operational in Minsk, the country’s chances of hosting a major international tournament will significantly increase. Belarus already has a good chance of hosting the European Indoor Athletics Championship in 2019. It is hoped that Minsk’s half-marathon could soon be included in the list of international sporting events.
By Kirill Karin
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