Belgrade Race Through History, by Pat Butcher, Note by Larry Eder



Race Finish, Sale Dizni (Kirui beats Kiptoo) Pat Butcher, our global runner, sends us his thoughtful views of a race in Belgrade, which has been resurrected. Paul Tergat was there as well, and Pat explains his reason for attendance. Oh, the race happened Wednesday, local time in Belgrade, and includes running up and down castle walls!

Boniface Kirui of Kenya won the revived Belgrade Race Through History this afternoon (Wednesday), after a cat-and-mouse struggle in the final kilometre with his compatriot Joseph Kiptoo.

Kirui edged the six kilometre race around the park and pathways of the Belgrade Kalemegdan Fortress in 17min 15sec, a stride ahead of Kiptoo, who was given the same time, with another Kenyan, Moses Kangogo in third place, in 17.25.

“I feel sorry for the second guy,” said Kirui, “because I tricked him a little. I relaxed as we came into the finishing straight, and let him take the lead, then I kicked from behind”.

Kiptoo corroborated the scenario. “I thought I’d won the race with 400 metres to go, but when he kicked, it was too late for me. This is a difficult course, it’s hard to get going properly”.

After three laps of the lower park beside the Danube river, the course climbs abruptly up a steep, cobble-stoned hill into the fortress proper, and becomes a roller-coaster in and out of the ancient gates, with twists and turns around the massive walls, and past the Turkish and Roman baths, dating back two millennia and giving the unusual race its name.

I took a good look at the course yesterday,” said Kirui, and I realised I had to get into the lead from the start, and try to destroy the others. I like hills, so I used that to get away, but I needed something else at the end to win”.

Weather conditions had threatened to disrupt the revival of the race after a ten year gap. Temperatures of 25-30C last week had plumeted to 5C at the race start at midday. Fortunately the heavy rains throughout Tuesday relented.

The race was started by guest-of-honour, Paul Tergat, who had been the only ever-present in the four editions of the race last century. “Thankfully the rain stopped,” said Tergat. “The marble steps and old stones could have been very slippery”.

Five-time world cross champion and former World record holder in the marathon, Tergat is preparing for the New York City Marathon in just over two weeks’ time, and didn’t want to chance his legs and ankles on the switchback course. But he bought two of the young athletes from his 40-strong training group. Kangogo was third, and Albert Kangor was fourth.

Like a multitude of his successful colleagues, race winner Kirui, 21, hails from Eldoret in the western highlands of Kenya. He trains with World marathon champion, Abel Kirui (no relation), and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, under coach Amos Korir.

Kirui made partial amends for his upset last weekend, when he fell while in the leading group in a 10k race in Britanny, north-western France on Sunday. He is now pondering whether to race a debut half marathon in
Reims, eastern France on Sunday. “I’ll go to Brussels tomorrow, then decide,” he said.


Podium, Vlada Markovic (from left, Kiptoo, Kirui, Kangogo on rostrum, front left Sven-Arne Hansen, IAAF rep; front right, Paul Tergat)


1 Boniface KIRUI KEN 17.15

2 Joseph KIPTOO KEN 17.15

3 Moses KANGOGO KEN 17.25

4 Albert KANGOR KEN 17.28

5 Julius ARILE KEN 17.31

6 Aziz NAJI IDRISS MOR 17.36

7 Muli Pius MUALUKO KEN 17.46

8 Jean-Baptiste SIMUKEKA RWA 17.46

9 Alexander TIDONY KEN 17.48

10 Barnabas BENE HUN 17.48

Further info: +44 7900 243460

Photographers: Race Finish, Sale Dizni (Kirui beats Kiptoo)
Podium, Vlada Markovic (from left, Kiptoo, Kirui, Kangogo on rostrum, front left Sven-Arne Hansen, IAAF rep; front right, Paul Tergat)

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