LAHORE MARATHON'S IMPORTANCE IN BUILDING PAKISTAN'S FOREIGN IMAGE
Apr 20 - 26, 2009
In the aftermath of terrorist activities in the country particularly after attack on Sri Lankan team, Pakistani sports have suffered an irreparable loss.
The need of the hour is to paint soft image of the country and this goal could be achieved by holding sports events specifically events like Lahore Marathon, which gives a positive message to the outside world apart from promoting healthy activities.
Pakistani athlete Mr. Muhammad Shafiq who represented Pakistan in 10th Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2009 at United Arab Emirates said: "It should be aim of Sports bodies in Pakistan to create a truly family-oriented event, to help promote sports in Pakistan, help raise fitness consciousness and encourage the community to lead more healthy lifestyles."
Mr. Muhammad Shafiq urged Federal Minister for Sports Aftab Shah Jilani, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB)'s Director General Syed Amir Hamza Gilani, Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Arif Hassan, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to work for revival of Lahore Marathon Race that failed to materialize at Pakistan's second biggest city during last two years.
"Sports influential person must accelerate push to create a healthier Pakistan. A marathon is more than just another race. Those who train and then run in a marathon develop a mindset that truly distinguishes them from others: It's about patience, discipline, strength, and stamina. Marathon runners can focus and by training for a single race, they develop an appreciation for long hard struggles. Our primary focus is to establish the Lahore Marathon as one of the glittering event in the world," said Shafiq.
Shafiq, born at Nankana Sahib on 1 September 1981, said that in a country like Pakistan, where avenues for physical training and activity are extremely limited, the promotion of an international marathon race, despite idiotic opposition from some religious groups, is a wonderful sign of increased sensibility towards physical and mental health of the people.
Shafiq used to train at Lahore's Punjab Stadium and he has the honor of finishing among top twenty in all three Lahore Marathon which is part of an annual package of six international marathons being sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank across Asia, Africa and Middle East. Over 20,000 athletes all over the world participate in this event. It was first held on 30 January 2005, then on 29 January 2006. The third (and so far last) marathon was held on 14 January 2007.
"The 42.195 KM marathon used to take Lahore's streets by storm with participants passing through some of the city's best-known places. This is a high profile international event that has the support of Pakistani government, brings together thousands of people and is watched by millions of viewers worldwide," said Shafiq who got honor of running with flying Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie and who went into the Dubai event with high hopes of breaking the 2h: 03m: 59sec world record he set last year in Berlin.
Shafiq believes the world record may well have fallen if the weather had not deteriorated. He blamed the damp conditions, which affected Haile who failed to turn another supreme performance into a world record-breaking run. The Ethiopian was in the best shape of his life winning the race but his assault on his own world record faltered as torrential rain blighted the latter stages of race.
WINNERS OF LAHORE MARATHON RACE
2005: Tseko Mpolokeng (South Africa)
2006: Halefom Tsegaye (Kenya)
2007: Ketma Amerssissa (Ethiopia)
2008: Not held
2009: Not held