When Liberia held its first marathon in 2011, it marked a milestone in the West African nation's bloody history as years of civil war had previously made staging such an event impossible. As more than 2000 runners prepare to take part in this year's race, we're told that Liberia's marathon is a story not of history but of a country getting back on its feet.
Held on Sunday 25 August, the 2013 event includes a full marathon, a standard 10k and a wheelchair/crutches 10k. The marathon circles the capital city of Monrovia, beginning at ELWA Hospital, continuing on to the north of the city on Somalia Drive, curving down through the historic downtown Monrovia before traversing the city along Tubman Boulevard and finishing at Samuel K. Doe Stadium. The 10k races follow a similar route, incorporating some of the best stretches of the full marathon.
Race organisers have teamed up with Race Result to provide chip-timing for the first time at the event. Organisers have high hopes for the event, saying: "This is one great example of how the Liberia Marathon is improving from a technical perspective as we grow towards our goal of being West Africa's most preeminent marathon!"
Former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, and Ethiopian running legend, Haile Gebreslassie, have both given their support to the race since its launch two years ago.
Tony Blair said: "Liberia has made great progress in the last few years. The races gives Liberia a chance to show its unity, its progress, and to provide a day of excitement and opportunity for everyone."
Gebrselassie also spoke about how important the event was in the nation's recovery: "I know the Liberians were suffering with different problems. Now they are recovering. Sport brings you peace, sport brings you everything."
The official race motto echoes those sentiments: "Liberia, Rising Together."
For more information, visit the event website.