Having its flag woven across the podiums of many athletic competitions, Eritrea is one of the countries that have won titles in many races through its skilled contenders. Though it has in the past hosted various sport events, Eritrea hasn’t hosted international marathon games. That is about to change. Tomorrow, the 9th of June 2019, Asmara is going to host a marathon, the Asmara Marathon. The marathon is considered a historic event that is going to be registered as international just like other international marathons of the world. Eritrean athletes as well as invited international athletes will compete at the marathon. The Asmara Marathon is also going to include the mass marathon, allowing everyone interested to participate.
We have here with us Isaias Ande, President of Eritrea Athletics Federation and chairperson of the Asmara Marathon Local Organizing Committee.
- Asmara Marathon to be recognized as one of the international marathons in the world
Eritrea has been making a marvelous headway in the athletics world over the years. The Eritrean athletes have managed to put their names on titles such as world champion amongst many world labels. Despite the great development in athletics, there haven’t been many major races hosted within the country. But that doesn’t mean the federation hasn’t considered the importance of putting together big tournaments. In fact, it has been working on hosting games at national level by inviting athletes from the East-African region. Eritrea has been hosting half-marathon games which featured the east African countries. Marathon is the kind of sport that requires big budget as well as technical capability, which is the reason why we haven’t done this event till now. The budget for the Asmara marathon this year is over 1.5 million Nakfa. This time, we believe that we have the potential to have the country’s own international title that might promote its name in the sport world. During this event, local athletes are going to have the chance to contend amongst international athletes and assess their performance as athletes. In addition to its name as a historic art-deco city, Asmara will be able to shine through a sport event.
- Who is competing?
All the skilled and strongest Eritrean athletes, except the three athletes who are going to represent the country at the Doha Marathon in September, will participate at the Asmara Marathon. Better yet, we have invited athletes from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia. These athletes have big names in athletics. One of them, Patrick Makua, is a world marathon record holder in 2010. Another athlete broke course record at the Poland Marathon in April. These big names in athletics are going to add heat to the competition. Of course, Eritrean athletes have competed against them in international levels and won competitions. They have been preparing for a year now and we believe that they have the potential to win the Asmara Marathon.
Besides the invited athletes, many higher officials are going to be at the marathon, including the Secretary of the East African Athletics Siddig Ahmed Ibrahim. They are going to give their support after making sure that the marathon has fulfilled all the requirements to be recognized internationally.
- Efforts of the Committee to make the Marathon Happen
The Athletics Federation of Eritrea set up a committee, with members from every ministry, to organize the Asmara Marathon. The committee has been able to raise all the financial costs the marathon required and organize mass sport. While on the topic, I would like to express my appreciation to all our sponsors. This event wouldn’t have taken place if it hadn’t been for their unconditional support. The committee would like to thank the National Insurance Company of Eritrea (NICE), Total-Eritrea, Commission of Culture and Sports, Olympic committee, Warsa Security and Taxi Association and other organizations for extending their help. The committee also held campaigns to raise awareness of the society as people aren’t familiar with mass marathon. We had in the past experience in mass half marathons which were not really successful over the years. But this time, we will see how it is going to turn up. Hopefully, we will see more people. We have prepared 10,000 white t-shirts but we are expecting 20,000 participants at the Mass Marathon. I would like to invite everyone who is interested in athletics to participate at the Asmara Marathon. This is a historic moment for Eritrea to have its name registered internationally. This is a national event that we all should take part in.
- The Asmara Marathon
The race will begin at the heart of the City Park and will make its way to Harnet Ave., going all the way and making a left turn to reach Bar Trestele, making its way to Keren Hotel. The contenders are going to turn to the Blood Bank and run towards the Red Sea Secondary School. They are going to turn to the back of Qanew and run towards the Techno Garden street coming back through Expo and making their way to the Bar Jima-Godiaf- Qehawta road and heading to Bahri Meskerem’s finish line. We are also going to host a half-marathon race for the Eritrean female athletes since we don’t have many females that compete in marathon. However, we do have the potential to compete at half marathon and that is what we are going to do. But this is something we need to work hard on.
Awards will be given to the top ten with the winner of the Asmara Marathon getting 90,000 Nkf. There will be a 60,000 Nkf award for 2nd place and 40,000 Nkf for 3rd place.