Maria Polyzou is born to run the marathon

Maria Polyzou is born to run the marathon
Nihal Koshie / DNA
Monday, January 11, 2010 1:53 IST

Mumbai: Maria Polyzou was in Mumbai for the first time on Sunday. She was in the city to participate in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon flame run — the first time the flame was seen outside Europe — from the Shiv Chatrapti International Airport to the Hutatma Chowk.

Polyzou is best-placed to spread the marathon spirit. At 41, she has been running marathons for 23 years. She is also the director of the Museum of Marathon in Marathon. In September she is planning to participate in the Ultra-marathon, a 250 kilometre grind, between Sparta and Athens.

This year marks the 2,500-year anniversary of the battle of marathon, so Polyzou wants to make it a special one for her and the sport as well. She had run in Xiamen, China, to celebrate the uncoming anniversary in September. “This is a special year for the sport. It’s great that the marathon flame has come to Mumbai. It will make this year’s event most special,” Polyzou told DNA on the sidelines of the run.

The marathon celebrates the run of a soldier, Pheidippides, from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens in 490 BC. Pheidippides was carrying the news a Greek victory over the Persians and collapsed and died at the end of his effort.

“There is something about marathons that elevate the spirit. If you can run a marathon you can safely say that you not only have attained the best from your body but have also managed to control your mind. There is no greater satisfaction than winning a marathon but even participating and lasting the distance can be a life-changing experience,” Polyzou said.

India is a second home for Polyzou. She is a Shri Sathya Sai Baba devotee and has been to Puttaparthi a number of times. “I have always enjoyed my visits to India. I am sure the Mumbai marathon will continue to be a success. What is most important for the success of a marathon is public participation and going by what I have seen today and heard about the previous editions, there is a tremendous support for the event,” Polyzou added.

Tarus, Too favourites
An elite athlete field comprising some of the world’s leading male and female long distance runners will participate in the seventh edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2010. The course record for men stands at 2:11.51s, set last year by Kenyan Kenneth Mugara, while the record for women is 2:34:08, held by three-time winner Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia, set in 2008.

While Kenneth Mugara is missing for this year’s line up, due to injury, last year’s runner-up David Tarus, also from Kenya, will be back and going by his current form is one of the front runners to take home the winner’s purse of $35,000.

Tarus ran 2:09:24s at Eindhoven in October 2009 and will have to contend with another strong challenger from Kenya, Daniel Kiprugut Too, who has returned the fastest timing in 2009 from among the field, clocking 2:08:38s in the Paris Marathon.

The other leading contenders among the men are Ethiopia’s Gebo Burka, winner of the Alps Marathon in 2009, with a personal best of 2:10:18s, set at the Cannes Marathon in November 2009, and Kenyan Luka Chelimo, winner of the Toronto Marathon in September 2009 with a personal best of 2:10:26s.

DNA India Reference

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