NATO-supported marathon in Bulgaria draws record number of participants

  • 06 Sep. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 09 Sep. 2019 18:17

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria’s accession to NATO and the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, the traditional Ekiden relay marathon took place in central Sofia on Friday (6 September 2019). The popular annual event saw a record number of participants this year – 606 runners, organised in 101 teams. The ‘Marathon Plovdiv’ team won the race in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 36 seconds, beating the previous record by 4 minutes.

Photo: Colonel Nevena Miteva

NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division co-sponsored the relay marathon, which focused on promoting team spirit, ambition, friendship and unity. The race took place on the day of Bulgaria’s Unification – one of the most important moments in the country’s history. The list of participants was diverse – including women, men and children, professional athletes chasing new records, amateurs at different levels, military officers, and diplomats. Runners and teams from several NATO Allies and partners also joined the race, including Germany, Romania, Turkey, North Macedonia, Ukraine and Japan. Anne Rosner, a NATO official and experienced marathon runner, attended the event and ran as part of a local team.

A Japanese tradition, Ekiden relay marathons are team competitions covering a distance of 42.195km. This was the fifth Ekiden relay marathon in Bulgaria.