Kaunas is the second largest city by population in Lithuania but it is the foremost in terms of sport.
Situated about 100km to the west of the capital Vilnius, Kaunas is home to the Lithuanian Sports University and the country’s national sports stadium which hosted the 2005 European Athletics Junior Championships, the 2009 European Athletics U23 Championships as well as the country’s home football fixtures.
The city also plays host to the Kaunas Marathon which was held for the first time in 2013. The event is already one of the biggest road races in Lithuania - not to mention the country’s biggest summertime running event - and has been given a three-star quality certification by European Athletics Running For All.
The event might be in its relative infancy but an impressive 5000 runners from 34 countries took part in the fourth edition of the event which was staged on 12 June. The race brands itself as a sports festival and while the marathon remains the pinnacle of the event, the organisers have added shorter distance events to the programme aimed at youngsters and those who are new to running.
And the marathon is an ideal race for any runner looking to beat their best time for the distance. The Berlin Marathon is renowned as the fastest course in the world but AIMS measurers have confirmed the difference between the lowest and highest points of the course in Kaunas is only 14 metres. The difference in Berlin is 25 metres.
Kenyan winner Matthew Kipkorir Sigei also gave the course a glowing indictment in terms of its compatibility for fast running and for points of interest along the route.
“The Kaunas Marathon course was without any hills and very flat with long straight parts of course. It’s interesting to run in different parts of the city. We start in a medieval old town and run to new parts of the city near the biggest rivers of Lithuania,” he said.
Participation rates are increasing with each year and organisers expect this trend to continue as the event’s reputation expands. Another coup for the event is the city is well connected to the rest of the continent with budget airlines operating direct flights to and from London, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Oslo and Stockholm.
Communications Director of the Kaunas Marathon, Viktoras Jasaitas unsurprisingly predicts a bright future for the event.
“Yes, we do,” he said. “The Kaunas Marathon will be growing and we want to get more and more foreign runners to participate in event.”
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