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Belgrade Marathon

Belgrade Marathon
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Belgrade Marathon

Belgrade Marathon is the biggest sport event in Serbia, which was, according to the decision of the Belgrade City Assembly, declared an event of special significance to the city of Belgrade.

The Belgrade Marathon incorporates a Fun Run 5km, half-marathon and marathon. By most estimates, it is the largest sports and promotional events traditionally held in the country. As a whole, the Children's Marathon and the Belgrade marathon, in the beginning of every spring, attracts much of the attention of the local media.

Short History

1988
At the initiative of Ðok Vještica, a journalist of the radio station «Studio B» and Brana Radovic, a track-and-field enthusiast, and in the organisation of the Belgrade authorities, the first Belgrade Marathon is held. The course is neither marathon nor half-marathon one. It is 23 kilometres long, and the race features only home athletes.
1989
The same team organises the second race, this time twice as long, the course equals 46,7 kilometres in length, and for the first time several foreign athletes participate.

1990
Partizan Yugoslav Sports Association takes over the organisation of the marathon and entrusts it to the working unit within the Partizan Agency. Fred Lebow, the president of the AIMS, the director of the New York City Marathon and the president of the New York Road Racing Club (NYRRC) arrives in Belgrade in January and gives a significant contribution to the first world version of Belgrade marathon race. The new (and current) course is defined, measured and awarded a certificate. The Belgrade Marathon becomes the AIMS member, and the athletes from 15 countries arrive in Belgrade. The first official records are set by Kenya’s Joseph Nzau (2:19,32) and Yugoslavia’s own Suzana Ciric (2:45,09). Beside marathon, the programme includes half marathon race and the 5000 metre Fun Run.

1991
Due to the beginning of conflict in the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, out of more than 500 foreign athletes only about 200 arrive in Belgrade. The new record is set by Tanzania’s Agapius Masong (2:16,23). Bob Beamon, the long jump world record holder, arrives from the USA in the capacity of the first marathon promoter. The Belgrade Marathon’s concept of development, organisation and communication with the world is ratified at the AIMS Congress in Bangkok. The Belgrade Marathon donates a new athletic track to Partizan and Belgrade athletics.

1992
The race is held under the increasingly worsening conditions due to the ongoing civil war, while the new record of 2:16,07 is set by Nicholas Nyengerai (Zimbabwe). An excellent cooperation is established with Belgrade City Council as the patron of the event. Belgrade City Council took on the obligation with maximum cooperation in the areas of technical organisation and financial aid. Cooperation with Pat Bucher and GLOBE RUNNERS PRODUCTION is established; the one hour coverage on SCREEN TV initiates world media presentation of the Belgrade Marathon. Success of the marathon leads to the founding of the company, The Belgrade Marathon Ltd. The Belgrade Marathon Ltd. embarks on a pioneer endeavour to introduce triathlon to Belgrade and Yugoslavia.

1993
The Children’s Marathon is held for the first time at the city’s centre, Terazije Street, and the great interest it evokes assures the organisers that this introduction to the marathon race requires maximum engagement. Due to the sanctions and the country’s isolation, the participants of the marathon race are picked up at the airports of the neighbouring countries and transported to Belgrade. The Belgrade Marathon receives support from the entire marathon movement, while its founder Fred Lebow arrives in Belgrade and takes part in the half marathon race despite the fact that he had a serious operation just few months earlier. Suzana Ciric betters the course record she set to 2:40,27.

1994
A ten-year contract of title sponsorship is signed with Soko Štark, famous confectionery producer, and the 7th marathon is run under the name of the Belgrade Soko Štark Marathon. Records are set by Ukraine’s Vladimir Bukhanov (2:12,17) and Romania’s Cristina Pomacu (2:33,07), the Ukrainian’s record remains unsurpassed. For the second consecutive year the participants are transported by car and minivan from the airports in Budapest, Temesvar, Bucharest and Sofia to Belgrade. At the end of the year, at the AIMS Congress in Macao, Dejan Nikolic, the director of the Belgrade Marathon, is elected into the board of directors.

1995
For the first time, the winners in men’s and women’s competitions are awarded the Fred Lebow Trophy, established in the memory of the Belgrade Marathon’s great friend. They are won by Belarus’ Vladimir Kotov and Poland’s Izabela Zatorska. In spite of the media and economic embargo the Belgrade Marathon signs its first international sponsorship contract with the Japanese company ASICS. The Children’s Marathon is relocated to the Belgrade Zoo, while more than 20,000 youngest Belgraders run in the qualifiers. The Tourist Organisation of Serbia awards “The Tourist Flower” to the Belgrade Marathon thus confirming its success. Creative director Petar Palfi brings about the new quality of the Belgrade Marathon’s visual identity. The first and the only live TV coverage of a marathon race in the FRY is realised in cooperation with the national broadcaster RTS and the Yugoslav Army.

1996
A long-term contract with NIKE is signed; the marathon is won by Ahmed Saleh of Djibouti, one of the world’s best marathon runners of his day. Humanitarian activities result in 50,000$ worth of goods and means for the UNICEF Yugoslavia. In autumn, the first Belgrade Race Through History is organised, and the diploma “Be nice and show it to others” is awarded by the Business School for Public Relations.

1997
Due to the fact that the title sponsor has been renamed, the race is for the first time entitled the Belgrade Štark Marathon, and its winners are Irina Bogacheva and Josephat Ndeti. In the mid-year Belgrade is, for the first time, presented with a new product – Ladies’ NIKE Race intended for the fairer sex.

1998
The Belgrade Marathon course record in women’s competition of 2:32,07 is set by Irina Bogacheva from Kyrgyzstan, while Kenya’s Reuben Chebutich triumphs in men’s competition. Supporting the runners, in the role of promoter is the Italian Gelindo Bordin. The Business School for Public Relations awards the diploma “Be nice and show it to others” to the Belgrade Marathon for the second time. In cooperation with the Belgrade authorities, a big concert featuring Sir Bob Geldof is organised.

1999
Under the motto «Stop the War – Run the World», the world's first marathon in the state of war is organised, even though all other events are cancelled due to the bombing. As 39 marathon runners from seven countries and many foreign friends of the marathon arrive in Belgrade uninvited, a non-competitive marathon race is held in which 39 runners run the course for 3:17,00, crossing the finish line together with their hands held high in the air. This is the first and the only marathon in which all competitors are winners. The Fun Run features 15,000 runners, while the half marathon race is not held. On the same day, 21 Russian cities – from Moscow to Vladivostok – organise local Belgrade Štark Marathons exercising solidarity with the Belgrade runners.

2000
The marathon race restores its the competitive character. New winners are Thabiso Moqhali from Lesotho and Romania’s Cristina Pomacu. However, due to the country’s adverse economic situation, a consequence of the prolonged isolation and war, organisational conditions have considerably worsened and great efforts are invested so that the marathon can be held.

2001
Romania’s Cristina Pomacu sets the new course record running under the two and a half hour limit - 2:29,44. A very successful charity endeavour “I run for the kids” raises 450,000 DEM that are paid into the account of the Ministry of Social Affairs of Republic of Serbia, and yellow T-shirts featuring the said slogan become the trademark of both Fun Run and marathon. Cooperation protocol is signed with the Tourist Organisation of Belgrade.

2002
Belgrade City Council takes over the organisation of an event entitled «Marathon over Belgrade» (contract with Štark is suspended), and the Belgrade Marathon Ltd. serves only as a technical organiser (approximately 80% of the entire organisation). Marathon course is partially altered so that the results cannot be compared with those of the original course.

2003
For the first time marathon is rescheduled from April to October and held simultaneously with the road race «Belgrade Grand Prix» and organised by Belgrade City Council, without the participation of the Belgrade Marathon Ltd. Half marathon has a new course.

2004
Marathon is held in April again, and Christopher Njunguda (Tanzania) with 2:12,53 sets the third best result including all marathon races and the alternative course record.

2005
In accordance with the contract made with Belgrade City Council, the Belgrade Marathon Ltd. takes over the organisation of the 18th Belgrade Marathon. As the contract of title sponsorship is signed with Delta Sport, the marathon is named the 18th Belgrade DELTA SPORT Marathon. Cooperation with Štark is renewed in the form of organisation of the children's marathon now named the Children's Smoki Marathon, after the company's famous product. The process of readmission to the AIMS is underway, and the marathon returns to its original course.

2006
Carl Lewis finally arrives to Belgrade, a promise he made back in 1994. The Belgrade Marathon has a new title sponsor, and hence the new name: „Belgrade BANCA INTESA Marathon“. For the first time ChampionChips computer timing system will be used, prizes and bonuses are increased, and the Belgrade Marathon is a full member of the AIMS. The Children’s Smoki Marathon got its logical upgrade – a permanent initiative entitled „Let’s Start With Sports“, whose value is recognised by the EAA’s involvement.
The Belgrade Marathon is held every year on the third weekend of April.

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