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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Benjamin Kiprotich wins the 2007 ACMThe Athens Classic Marathon, which was run on Sunday, once again proved itself a memorable occasion.

Steeped in history - that's the whole Pheidipidis thing not to mention Spyros Louis and Stefano Baldini - the ACM provided drama, some record times and, perhaps the thing that will have pleased the organisers most, a record field which topped 4,000 for the first time.

The one dampener - quite literally - was the rain which deterred the notoriously fickle Athenian spectators from cheering along the route and, according to the runners, made the roads uncomfortably slippery.

There was also the sight of Kenyan runner Bett James Kipkemboi collapsing close to the end of the race, hitting a tram in the process. Thankfully, no lasting damage was done although doctors found that he had an abnormally low blood sugar level.

No one likes to see runners going down although given the particularly cruel nature of the Athens course, it is surprising we don't see more of it.

Bear in mind though that in the US Olympic trials in New York on Saturday the former national champion Ryan Shay collapsed - and died. At the age of 28. It can happen anywhere and to even the fittest of athletes.

The New York marathon, of course, was run on the same day as the ACM and not surprisingly, given the tremendous return of Britain's Paula Radcliffe, grabbed all the media headlines.

Athens Classic Marathon logoBut there may come a day when the ACM gets a field and media coverage to project the event into the top echelon of cinternational city marathons.

That was certainly the opinion of Paco Borao, vice-president of AIMS, the Association of International Marathons and Road Races, which held its first symposium in the town of Marathon n Saturday.

"I think the organisers are already thinking about moving the date of the Athens Marathon," he said.

"Of course there are many, many marathons around the world now so whichever weekend you hold it on, you will clash with somebody. But New York is the most media-driven of all so it is good not to go up against it."

Wise words. A change of date, even by a week or two could make a real difference to the numbers wanting to take part.

"I don't see any reason why Athens should not attract 10 or 12 thousand people," says Borao, who also organises the Valencia marathon.

"Athens has something that no other marathon in the world can claim - the history. This is where is all began.

"There are thousands, millions of marathon runners out there and I guarantee you that 99.9 per cent would want to run the original. It just needs hard work in the marketing and promotion."

Abel Anton says ACM one of the great marathonsAnother man who believes that Athens can claim a place at the top table is former double world marathon champion Abel Anton who came to town for the symposium but couldn't resist taking part in the 10-kilometre race.

"Athens is one of the greatest marathons in the world because it is the original," said the 45-year-old Spaniard who won his first world championship along the same course in Athens in 1997.

"It is historic and it has atmosphere. Athens must be one of the targets of every runner whether they are club runners or elite - at least once they must do it."

"Athens has started to be recognised as a proper, well-organised city marathon but it takes time. You have to do much in the way of marketing and promotion. But yes, in a few years, I think Athens will be there."

Athens deserves to be there and SEGAS, the organisers, deserve a pat on the back for promoting it.

But it doesn't stop there. There is a feeling that in past years, planning for the ACM only started in earnest once SEGAS has finished dealing with the annual Tsiklitiria athletics Grand Prix in Athens in early July

This has to change. To give the ACM the best chance of fulfilling its potential, planning for 2008 should already be underway.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Athens Classic Marathon logoKenyan runner Bett James Kipkemboi is set to leave hospital tomorrow after collapsing during yesterday's Athens Classic Marathon.

Race authorities and doctors at KAT hospital have said that the runner was suffering from an abnormally low blood sugar level.

Kipkemboi collapsed close to the end of the race and appeared to collide with a tram, causing fears that his injuries were even more serious.

"He was not run over by the tram," said Kostas Panagopoulos, president of the marathon committee.

"The tram was in motion and he fell onto it. Of course the ambulance rushed to him immediately and transferred him to KAT hospital."

The race was won by another Kenyan Benjamin Kiprotich with the Russian Svetlana Ponomarenko taking the women's race.

Kipkemboi stable after marathon collapse
Kenyan runner suffering from low sugar level
Kiprotich and Ponomarenko win ACM
Kenyans dominate the marathon again
Marathon to be a runaway success
More than 7,000 runners to take part on Sunday

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