As excitement grows before the Bogotá Media Maratón and runners rest up before the big race, Juliana Liévano Uribe hears from some of the big names who will be pounding the city’s streets.
The Bogotá Media Maratón will take place tomorrow (Sunday, July 28) and there will be a number of high profile athletes racing through the capital.
Luis Felipe Posso, the Media Maratón’s international advisor, described the running competition as the “biggest athletic event in South America” due to its mass participation, introduced the top four favourites to win the title at a press conference on Thursday.
It was also announced that Bogotá is a candidate to host the 2020 Half Marathon World Championship. The city will compete against Kiev, Ukraine with a nomination that was supported by mayor Enrique Peñalosa. This shows how important the Media Maratón is, and it is also why this Sunday’s race is so important.
The favourites to win the title are Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa, Kenyan Mary Wacera, and two members of the Colombian group Porvenir, Kellys Arias and Diego Colorado.
Arias, who will be running with number 53, previously took the title in Panama’s 2015 Half Marathon and has participated in marathons and half marathons around the world as well as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Colorado, on the other hand, will be running with number eight, and has won a number of titles in different races in Colombia and participated in many different marathons and half marathons around the world.
Wacera, who will be running with number 51, has won titles in Boston’s 10K, as well as silver and bronze medals from the Half Marathon World Championship in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
“I’m very happy to be here,” Wacera said while thanking the organisation for the invitation. “It’s my first time in Colombia and I hope I have a good race on Sunday.”
Lilesa, silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, placed second last time he participated in the Bogotá Media Maratón. This year he comes for the title and his number on the shirt is number one.
“I’m happy to be in Colombia after five years,” Lilesa said.
Most recently, the Ethiopian runner won New York’s Half Marathon in March this year. He’s also got titles in the Tokyo, Dublin and Xiamen marathons under his belt, as well as a double crown in the Houston Half Marathon.
At the press conference, Lilesa opened up about the problematic social situation in Ethiopia and how it has affected him.
“My people are dying in Ethiopia every month,” he said. “My mind is never at rest.”
Posso explained that Lilesa belongs to the Oromo tribe in Ethiopia, which makes up a third of the Ethiopian population. He said the Oromo tribe is fighting against the government because of discrimination against the tribe.
Despite the fact that many members of Lilesa’s family have died and others are in jail, Lilesa keeps running and talking against the government that keeps them oppressed.
“I am exiled from my country because of this situation,” Lilesa said.
This Sunday 45,000 runners are expected to participate in the Bogotá Media Maratón.
Other figures to watch for:
#2 Stanley Biwott – Kenya
#6 Peter Kirui – Kenya
#10 Gerard Giraldo – Colombia- Porvenir Group
#12 Motoloka Nkhabutlane – Lesotho
#14 Kimutai Kiplimo – Kenya
#16 John Tello – Colombia- Goodwill Runners
#18 Jeisson Suárez – Colombia- Porvenir Group
#54 Veronicah Wondimagegn – Ethiopia
#56 Silvia Paredes – Ecuador
#57 Angie Orjuela – Colombia- Porvenir Group
#58 Ruth Chepngetich – Kenya
#59 Angela Figueroa – Colombia- Porvenir Group
#61 Evelyn Anangono – Ecuador
#63 Miriam Karienye – Kenya