The Zurich Maraton de Sevilla takes place for the 32nd time at nine o’clock on Sunday morning and the race which has been given a five-star endorsement by European Athletics Running For All is still setting records into its fourth decade on the calendar.
Running shows no sign of diminishing in popularity as this year’s edition of the long-standing race is set to be the biggest to date. Sold out one month before race day, an anticipated 13,000 runners from 75 countries are expected to toe the start-line inside La Cartuja which hosted the 1999 IAAF World Championships.
Another record which the race proudly boasts is the course is the flattest in Europe. With every major European city staging some sort of mass participation event, this is a tangible selling point in drawing runners from across the world to Spain’s fourth largest city.
From start to finish, the course rises no more than ten metres in elevation and rhythm-sapping twists and turns are at a premium as well. More than 700 runners - slightly less than 10 percent of the field - took advantage of the fast and flat course to break the three hour-mark in last year’s race.
The elite runners will lead out the field and if the conditions and pacemaking are conducive, the course records of 2:08:33 and 2:28:00 respectively, could be under threat. As a marker of the race’s growing reputation, the organisers have invited one of the fastest runners of all-time - Berhanu Shiferaw from Ethiopia - whose lifetime best is nearly four minutes in excess of the course record.
There will also be one or two familiar names in the mass ranks as well. Abel Anton won the world marathon title twice in the late 1990s and the legendary figure of Spanish distance-running is still a keen runner. Aged 53, Anton will be running this race albeit at a slower pace than he did in 1999 when he claimed the world title in this city.
Martin Fiz, who preceded Anton as the world marathon champion in 1995, will also be taking part at the age of 52.
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