A record number of participants gathered for the 2018 half-marathon, which took place last weekend in Minsk. The more than 35,000 athletes and recreational runners covered different distances in the city center of the Belarus capital – among them around 50 staff and friends of the Minsk 2019 European Games Organizing Committee (MEGOC). The most popular distance, also among the MEGOC team, was 5.5 km. Other distances on offer were 10.55 km and 21.1 km.
As a strong symbol of unity across nations and generations, the participants unfurled a 25-metre flag featuring the logo of the 2nd European Games in front of the Sports Palace just before the start of the run.
The “captain” of MEGOC’s Bright Team, Deputy CEO Anatoly Kotov, had participated in several editions of the Minsk half-marathon and, according to him, each one is unique.
“Our MEGOC team takes part in almost all of the important sport events in Minsk,” Kotov said after the run. “Running is a very popular activity among our population, with the half-marathon in Minsk always attracting great crowds. Today our staff covered many distances and they enjoyed running as a team during a beautiful morning. Our participation follows several goals and we also use such events for the promotion of the European Games.
“Today we conducted a massive flash mob and unveiled a huge flag with the Games logo – a powerful reminder that in less than a year we will be hosting Europe’s largest multisport event in Minsk,” he continued. “Athletes, guests and fans should celebrate peacefully together, just as we did here today in Minsk during the half-marathon. Today we highlighted once again the importance of having athletics on the programme of the 2nd European Games and I would like to thank the Belarus Athletics Federation for their help in organising the flash mob. In addition, our participation in the half-marathon also benefitted the charity Alexandra Herasimenya Sport-Inclusiya, which supports the socialisation of children suffering from autism.”
The winner of the half-marathon (21.1 km) in the men’s category was Abeba Negevo Degef from Ethiopia, who crossed the finish line after 1 hour 02 minutes 37 seconds. He beat Kiptum Mayo Kimayo from Kenya, winner of this distance in Minsk in 2016 and 2017, by one second only. Third place went to Joel Maeen Mwangi from Kenya who finished in 1 hour 02 minutes 53 seconds.
In the women’s category, the race was just as close, with again only one second separating the winner from the runner up. Sheila Erotich from Kenya topped the podium, with a time of 1 hour 12 minutes 02 seconds. She was just a wink faster than Svetlana Kudelich from Belarus who finished second. Meseret Gebre Dekebo from Ethiopia came in third (1 hour 12 minutes 43 seconds). Athletes from Belarus dominated the other distances.
Chairman of the Belarus Athletics Federation, Vadim Devyatovsky, noted that the Minsk half-marathon is currently designated the bronze label by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) but it might soon receive the silver label, which will further enhance the status of the event.
This year’s half-marathon in Minsk not only featured a record number of participants, but the runners also came from a record number of countries (53). 1,300 participants travelled from abroad, including 600 Russian sport enthusiasts coming from 89 different Russian cities. Other runners came from Australia, Canada, the United States and Japan. In addition, the participants from Belarus came from all parts of the country (198 different places).