On Sunday, October 3, the 98th Kosice Peace Marathon starts in eastern Slovakia. The longest continuously organised marathon event in the world will welcome stars from its history as well as the top racers of today. In the pandemic year 2020, the Slovak favourite Tibor Sahajda was missing, with Marek Hladik winning the run. “It will not be possible to defend this position this year with African athletes participating,” said Hladik referring to the absence of the international stars past year.
Commenting on his start this year, Tibor Sahajda hoped for good weather, pointing to the windy nature of the eastern Slovak town. “My performance will be driven by the African athletes, their presence in the run is a high motivation,” said Sahajda who suffered from coronavirus last year. Due to strict anti-pandemic measures, only 200 athletes participated in the Kosice Peace Marathon in 2020 while tens of thousands had been running in the streets of the town in previous years. The pandemic is also mirrored in the number of runners participating over the coming weekend. Branislav Koniar, the race director explains: “The number of registered athletes is approaching 7000. It is necessary to add that about 400 people re-registered for next year. So we expect about 6500 runners in all the disciplines.”
The highlights of the 98th year of the Kosice Peace Marathon should be the African athletes. However, Koniar adds that their form is not stable as many of them have not competed for almost two years due to the pandemic. “Neither in the event in Berlin, nor in London, nor in Paris were the organisers able to get athletes on their marks. The marathons are challenging for the runners,” stated Koniar. Despite questioning their fitness, he claims that the line-up is very attractive judging by their personal bests. “I would like to point out Damansevitch from Belarus and Trofimova from Russia, who might make the African favourites feel uneasy in the main female run, while I believe our Tibor Sahajda will do the same in the male category,” concluded Koniar.
Among the favourites of the 2021 Kosice Peace Marathon are the males Deribe Robi Melka from Ethiopia (personal best 2:05:58) and Henok Tesfay from Eritrea (personal best 2:10:08) and Tibor Sahajda (p.b. 2:15:25). Female athletes are to be dominated by Sardana Trofimova from Russia (p.b. 2:24:38), Milliam Ebongon from Kenya (p.b. 2:27:16) and Maeregu Hayelom from Ethiopia (2:30:15).
The Kosice Peace Marathon was first organised in 1924 with a race of exactly 42.195 km from then onwards.
Source: TASR, RSI