LAHORE, Jan 30: Thousands of people thronged the Qadhafi Stadium on Sunday for the first Lahore International Marathon in which athletes from 16 countries took part.

The people of Lahore treated the event as a major festival and the Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said that its success would go a long way in boosting the image of the country abroad.

Sixty foreigners and 400 Pakistani athletes ran in the main 42.19 km marathon while the shorter 10 km and six km versions attracted 3,500 runners, including 15 foreigners, and over 10,000 respectively. Children and burqa-clad women also took part in the 6 km event.

The foreign athletes came from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ukraine, Russia, Zimbabwe, UK, Belarus, Denmark, Tanzania, Sweden and India. Cash prizes of $100,000 in the main events were at stake.

The city government had made special arrangements for students of the junior and high schools to watch the event. The oldest participant in the 10 km race was Fauja Singh, 93.

The London-based Indian won the hearts of everyone by donating his prize money of $5,000 to a charity. He took part in the race with his three colleagues - Ajit Singh, 73, Amrik Singh, 70, and Harmander Singh, 45. He improved his previous best timing to 64 minutes from 68.

Fauja Singh has been a regular participant in marathons for three decades. The prize for him was announced by Chaudhary Pervez for his stunning performance.

"I want to break the record of a South African who took part in the race till the age of 97," Fauja Singh said, adding that he was happy to be in Pakistan and particularly in Lahore.

Rubab Raza, an international swimmer, said it was a fantastic event and she was sure that it would convey a very positive image of the country abroad. Rubab was to run in the 10 km race but missed it because of being late. Former international athlete Shazia Akhtar said the race would set a new trend in Pakistan and now people would have healthier events to watch.

Opinion

The sixth wave

The sixth wave

PCR testing has drastically gone down in Pakistan and our disease surveillance system needs much more strengthening.

Editorial

Udaipur killing
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Udaipur killing

The crime committed in Udaipur did not happen in a vacuum.
Unacceptable demand
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Unacceptable demand

Negotiating with extremists is tricky; no peace treaty with them has lasted beyond a few months.
Tough times ahead
01 Jul, 2022

Tough times ahead

THE finance ministry’s projection of 15pc inflation, much higher than the targeted rate of 11.5pc, during the new...
More ‘prior actions’
Updated 30 Jun, 2022

More ‘prior actions’

It is crucial that the IMF reconsiders its stance and releases the funds at the earliest to calm uneasy markets.
Growing power crisis
30 Jun, 2022

Growing power crisis

THE country’s escalating power crisis risks exacerbating the law-and-order situation as people take to the streets...
Attack on polio team
30 Jun, 2022

Attack on polio team

THE threat of deadly violence never seems to diminish for health workers and police officials involved in...