AROUND 30,000 runners braved an unusually cold spring Sunday to run in Lisbon’s annual half-marathon last week. They set off near the Ponte 25 de Abril and covered a distance of 21 kilometres before finishing at Belém Palace.
The men’s winner, in a time of 59 minutes, 49 seconds, was the Kenyan Rodgers Pop. Joyce Chepchumba, also from Kenya, won the women’s race in 68 minutes, 11 seconds.
The event took place amid tight security. President Jorge Sampaio attended, but, unlike in previous years, he did not run. “If I was frightened I wouldn’t be here – I would be at home,” he said, when asked whether he had any fears about watching the marathon. “I think that the best way of combating terrorism is to come out here today.” Sampaio did not wish to elaborate too much about security precautions. “We have the terrible habit of talking about security. We should not say publicly what we are doing about it, because it is absurd if we do,” he said.
The organiser of the mini-marathon, Carlos Moia, said the GNR, PSP and anti-terrorist unit had all co-operated extremely well. “It was an excellent test for the effective collaboration between the forces,” he said. Local runner Truus Zandstra, running in her eighth half-marathon, told The Resident she and her husband Robert greatly enjoyed the event: “We didn’t particularly notice the heightened security, apart from seeing some police with dogs at the start of the race, but that didn’t bother us. We weren’t frightened at all. But I don’t think everyone participated on account of the weather,” she added.Later this month Truus and Robert are set to run in the Madrid marathon, an event that will be particularly poignant in the light of recent tragic events.