About 28,000 runners yesterday morning hit the road in the annual Taipei Marathon, with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) saying that the event might be the only large-scale city marathon held in the world this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The runners, mostly wearing masks, gathered in front of Taipei City Hall in cold and rainy weather before sunrise as they waited for Ko to fire the starting shot at 6:30am.
Ko said that since its launch in 1986, the Taipei Marathon has become part of Taipei’s city branding and an important event to promote international tourism.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
A total of 3,692 foreign nationals from more than 60 countries attended the race in 2018, he said.
More than 37,000 people registered to join this year’s race, but to maintain quality, only 28,000 people were selected through a lottery, he added.
The Taipei Marathon is the first marathon in the nation to obtain the World Athletics Bronze Label Road Race certification, and its routes are certified by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, but the city government is still working to improve the event and obtain the Platinum Label, Ko said.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
The slogan of this year’s marathon was “Dare to breathe” to encourage the runners to challenge themselves and show gratitude to the disease prevention personnel for their efforts to protect people from COVID-19 so that runners could take big breaths and run toward the finish line, the organizers said.
“This event might be the largest marathon held in the world since the pandemic broke out,” Ko said. “We want to thank all the disease prevention personnel for their continuous efforts, so that we can have such impressive success in fighting COVID-19.”
Runners were required to wear a mask at the starting point and after crossing the finish line, while spectators were required to wear a mask at all times during the event.
Ko urged people to continue to wear masks and wash their hands frequently to maintain Taiwan’s good disease prevention performance.
The Taipei Department of Sports said that 12 top runners from other countries were invited to join the race this year.
They underwent a 14-day mandatory quarantine, during which treadmills were provided at their hotels for them to practice, and were tested for COVID-19 several times before the race.
Kenyan runner Paul Lonyangata won in the men’s division, finishing in 2 hours, 9 minutes and 18 seconds, setting a record for the Taipei Marathon, while Ethiopian runner Askale Wegi won in the women’s division, finishing in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 31 seconds.
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