Over a 1,000 people participated in two ‘marathon’ races in the city on Sunday.
The Punjab Marathon started at 9:50 am, 20 minutes later than its scheduled time. Close to 400 men participated in the 17-km ‘marathon’, although 6,000 had registered for it. Only three men and around 250 women showed up at the Family Fun Race, 3,300 families had registered for that race.
The Punjab Marathon had a prize money of Rs100,000 to Rs200,000, while the 3.5-km Family Fun Race had prizes from Rs70,000 to Rs100,000. Patriotic songs were blaring to pump up the participants.
The Punjab Marathon began at the Gaddafi Stadium, the participants went on to Ferozepur Road, turned on to Main Boulevard. A left turn was taken at Khayaban-i-Punjab University. Another left was taken on to the Canal Road and from Dharampura it was a u-turn back on the Canal Road. The route then took a right on to Zahoor Elahi Road and then on to Hali Road via Ghalib Road. From there it was back into Gadaffi Stadium.
The Family Fun Race started from Sadiq Trade Centre and ended at the Liberty Roundabout.
Some complained that ‘favourites’ had won the races. A small protest was held in Punjab Stadium in this regard. The management said this was predictable behaviour.
Registration for the Punjab Marathon continued even after the race had begun. Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood Khan, who headed the organsing committee, made announcements to encourage the participants.
In his opening statement, he congratulated the Punjabis for displaying such passion for an athletic event. He said such events should be held regularly. Khan said that soon marathons would be held in other cities of the province.
Sports Board Director General Usman Anwar said his team had faced no hurdles in organising the event. He said the Punjab government had extended them its all out support.
Model Town SP Maroof Safdar Wahla, Saddar SP (Investigation) Hassan Mustaq Sukhera and SP (Security) Jawad Qamar were in charge of venue security. Newly appointed SSP Sajjad Ahmad Manj remained on site to review security arrangements.
SP (Security) Qamar told The Express Tribune that around 2,000 personnel had been deputed along the race route. He said around 1,000 men from Civil Defence and Rescue 1122 were also at hand to deal with any emergency. He said the security for the Family Marathon, which started at noon, was very tight. He said that no one was allowed to enter or approach roads leading to Gulberg’s Main Boulevard.
The Family Fun Race was actually two races.
The first was for men only, more than 200 men ran in it. Saddam, a student from Punjab College, took the first position.
The second race, a women-only run, saw many participants walking the distance instead of making a dash. The top three spots were taken by Kiran Rana from Muzaffargarh, Farhat Batool from Sargodha and Maria Ghafoor from Lahore.
Rana said women should come out and participate in such events in larger numbers.
Army athletes took the first nine positions in the Punjab Marathon while the tenth was taken by an athlete from the navy. Abid won top slot, clocking in at 58:16.
Shabana Akhtar, an athlete, told The Express Tribune that it was a good event, although it paled in comparison to regular marathons. She said there should have been more categories. She said it was unfair to have men of all ages run in the same race.
Rescue 1122 DG Rizwan Naseer told The Express Tribune that around 534 cadets had been mobilised for the race and around 200 rescue workers were also on hand. He said other than a dislocated ankle no problem was reported. He said that rescuers had moved along side the athletes to address any issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.