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Will West Africa Become The New Marathon Giant?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Aug. 26, 2013
  • Updated Aug. 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM UTC

The other side of the continent is starting host more and more races.

The Associated Press has an interesting article about running in Africa.

There is a new surge in marathon popularity in the western side of the continent. Last weekend, the inaugural Liberia Marathon kicked off. The race was held in the dilapidated capital of Monrovia in conjunction with a 10K.

More than 1,000 participants took part in the event, which featured a military brass band.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was there to run part of the 10K course, wearing jeans. U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac was in the field as well.

Sirleaf is a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner and said that “praying for the other runners” is a bigger priority than her own race.

Along with Liberia, the past few years have yielded other 26.2-mile races on the western edge of the continent, including one in Sierra Leone (its second marathon). Gabon hosts its first in November.

These new races raise the question whether or not West Africa will rise as a distance-running powerhouse that can rival East Africa with its Kenyan and Ethiopian superstars.

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at Competitor.com and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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