Marathons spring up in West Africa, possibly creating new source for distance-running talent

MONROVIA, Liberia — Prince Weah had no experience with distance-running when he signed up on a whim for a 10-kilometer race in Monrovia four years ago. Like many West African boys, he grew up with dreams of soccer stardom, though he quickly set those aside after unexpectedly placing first in the running event. On Sunday, 20-year-old Weah joined more than 1,000 other runners who took to the streets of this dilapidated seaside capital for the Liberia Marathon and 10-kilometer race, cheered on by hundreds of spectators lining the streets and even a military brass band. Star participant was President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Joined by U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac, Sirleaf donned jeans and sneakers and ran a short stretch of the 10-kilometer race, stopping early on when the course ran past her house. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner has previously said that “praying for the other runners” is a more effective use of her time than trying to reach the finish line. In remarks to organizers two days before the marathon, Sirleaf described the symbolic importance of the race for a country still recovering from a brutal 14-year civil war in which 250,000 were killed. Liberia is celebrating 10 years of peace this month. “Liberia, too, is in a marathon, a race of sustained peace,” she said. “With victory, you will reap the dividends that come from being a nation at peace with itself. Our goal for Liberia is to get to the finish line, to be a winner.” While Sirleaf alluded to the past, many runners were looking to a future when West Africa might emerge as a force in the distance-running world. The marathon event is one of a few to have sprung […]

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    Liberia Marathon 2013 – A Nation Prepares – Celebrating a decade of peace, unity and endurance Liberia Marathon 2013 – A Nation Prepares – Celebrating a decade of peace, unity and endurance

    Liberia Marathon 2013 – A Nation Prepares – Celebrating a decade of peace, unity and endurance

Liberia Marathon 2013 – A Nation Prepares – Celebrating a decade of peace, unity and endurance

Over 1,400 Liberians have signed up to take part in the Liberia Marathon which takes place in Monrovia on Sunday 25 August 2013. The 2nd Liberia Marathon and 10k run celebrate a decade of unity and peace and over 2,000 runners are expected to take part. Liberia in West Africa is perhaps better known for overcoming its devastating civil conflict and electing Africa’s first ever female President than it is for long distance running. But in the footsteps of an extremely successful first ever marathon in 2011, it’s expected that runners will come from all walks of life on the big day this year to take part in Liberia’s second marathon. The Mayor of Monrovia, Cabinet Ministers, elite international runners, ex-combatants, market sellers, wheel chair users and amputees…will all be running for Liberia under the motto “Liberia Rising, Together”. The scale of this event symbolises how far the country has come in such a short time. In the inaugural race, Nobel Peace Prize winner and President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, put on her sneakers and took part. Afterward saying of the event, “Rain or shine the Marathon and 10K was a resounding success.” The organisers have major ambitions to build long distance running in West Africa and the event is expecting to attract a large number of participants from Liberia and internationally. For the first time all runners will have time trackers to record their run. With a top cash prize of up to US$3,000 and full International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Certification for the course, the event attracts an elite field of runners from Ethiopia and Kenya who will compete against the Liberian runners. In 2011, it was 18 year old […]