Shillong: With just hours left for the commencement of the second edition of the Sohra International Half Marathon 2023, the Meghalaya State Olympic Association (MSOA) is elated with the positive and overwhelming response this year. The number of registered participants has surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Last year, a total of 2700 players took part in the marathon. This year, the marathon will feature six international athletes, all from Kenya.
This marathon is jointly organised by MSOA and Sports and Youth Affairs with the objective to promote fitness, tourism and make it a signature event.
Approximately 1,300 school children from 14 schools in Sohra have eagerly stepped forward to participate in the marathon. Even after the deadline, organizers continued to receive more calls, with additional schools from Sohra expressing their interest in joining.
Working President, MSOA John Kharshiing and Chief Technical Officer of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) G Krishnan briefed the media on Friday to inform that everything is all set for the event.
“Cloak room (bus) will be provided for athletes to keep their belongings. We would also like to urge spectators to ensure it is litter free. Ambulance and medical aid will be stationed all along the route as per AFI norms. Distance has been properly marked from 21 upto the finishing mark this will help runners to be aware of how many kilometres they have crossed,” explained Kharshiing.
Vehicles will not be allowed to park near the event except for the technical official vehicle, and in case of emergency, vehicles maybe allowed to proceed.
Notices have been issued about the closure of the road from Laitsohpliah (ahead of Mawkdok) to Sohra-Mawsmai from 6 am to 9 am.
Giving details about the overwhelming response of participants, the MSOA working president said, “For 21k we have over 300 participants. For 10k there are 545 participants and 5k almost 2,000 plus. So today we have a registration of more than 3000 athletes.”
The international runners have notable best times, including one hour eight minutes, one hour twelve minutes, and one hour four minutes. Last year, the overall winner recorded a time of one hour two minutes. In the Meghalaya category, the leading runner completed the marathon in one hour eight minutes, reflecting a difference of six minutes.
This is only marathon held in NE recognised by AFI.
Meanwhile, the working president of MSOA was surprised by the calls he received, with 60% of those from outside the state inquiring about the location of Sohra, Meghalaya.
“Around 60% of the callers from outside the state were asking where Sohra is located and where is Meghalaya…I was shocked initially but I realised that there are so many people who still don’t know where Sohra is .. I won’t blame them because if anyone ask me about a tourist destination in Kerala I won’t have any idea. What’s shocking was few calls also came from Assam asking where is Sohra exactly,” mentioned Kharshiing.
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The department is hopeful that the event will help promote the state as well as Sohra, known as Cherrappunjee, a famous tourist destination in the state.
Regarding the expenditures, they project the costs to be around Rs 1 crore. Last year, the expenditure amounted to Rs 69 lakh. The organizers have arranged for logistics, refreshments, transport, and volunteers.
There are 650 volunteers in position, and all of them are residents from the villages along the marathon route.
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