NEW Prime Minister, José Sócrates, and President Sampaio were just two of the 35,000 participants in the 15th Lisbon Half-Marathon and Mini-Marathon last Sunday. World famous athletes, politicians and musicians congregated at 10.30am for the race, which started on the 25 de Abril Bridge and ended at Jerónimos Monastery.
Kenyan runner, Paul Tergat, was the winner of the men’s race, repeating his 2000 triumph. Tergat completed the 21-kilometre race in 59 minutes and 10 seconds, only four seconds behind his best time. “I failed to set a world record, but I want to come back again next year,” he said at the finish.
Tergat, one of the most decorated long-distance athletes in the world, is also a Unicef ambassador and a prominent campaigner for his home country. He said that the race was excellent preparation for the forthcoming London Marathon, in which he will also compete. In second place was another Kenyan, Robert Cheruyot, who finished the race in 59 minutes and 21 seconds, ahead of Wilson Kiprotich (59:27) and Martin Lel (59:42), in third and fourth places respectively.
The fastest Portuguese runner in the men’s race was António Salvador. He finished the race in 13th position in one hour, two minutes and 58 seconds. The winner of the women’s race was Kenyan, Susan Chepkemei (1:08:49), who won her third Lisbon half-marathon ahead of Margarete Okayo (1:09:19) and Asha Gigi (1:09:55). The fastest Portuguese woman runner was Fátima Silva who finished the race in ninth place (1:13:54).
The event was hailed an outstanding success by organisers, marred only by a dispute between the GNR and 1,000 cyclists who protested at their exclusion from the race. Anti-doping tests were more rigorous than ever, with authorities also introducing blood tests on top of the traditional urine analysis.
Friends and two bodyguards joined Prime Minister José Sócrates in the shorter, seven-kilometre mini-marathon, but, to the surprise of some commentators, they did not run alongside him. Sócrates, a fit 47-year-old, received many helpful words of encouragement en route from onlookers. “I have always participated in this race. I didn’t come here to bask in the limelight or to be photographed,” he said.President Jorge Sampaio also took part and finished behind the First Lady, Maria José Ritta.