So what if trekking, rafting and the rest of it seem a little iffy in many parts of the country now. For those of you who like to get a little sweaty, the Pokhara Marathon 2002, being organised by the Nepal Ex-Athletes Forum and the Nepal Amateur Athletics Association, might be just the ticket. "There are city marathons all over the world," says Ganesh Bhattarai, coordinator of the Pokhara Marathon 2002. "We thought, why not give Nepal it's own. And this won't be the last one either."
Something like this was direly needed to make people realise that life must go on, and the organisers couldn't have picked a better place to hold the run, giving the hospitality business in Pokhara a much-needed boost. By all accounts, people are excited-Bhattarai expects at least 50 competitors from different countries to participate in the full international length 42.195 km marathon.
The Pokhara Marathon will be more than just one long run around the lake city. It will be even more than promoting Pokhara as destination paradise or the usual suspects of peace and national solidarity. What this really is, is a warm-up, as it were, for something truly out of this world-the Cross Country Mountain Marathon from Pokhara to Lo Manthang planned for later this year. The race circuit will include villages of different ethnicities in the Annapurna Conservation Area and is planned to challenge the participants, and also highlight the challenges that Mustang's cultural heritage and natural environment face in the future. Says Bhattarai, " A sporting event of this magnitude will not only help highlight Nepal's prospects in adventure tourism, it will give prominence to our own sportspersons."
For now, though, there is the Pokhara city marathon to contend with-and there's plenty at stake. First, second and third place winners will receive Rs 25,000, Rs 15,000, and Rs 10,000 respectively, along with the obligatory shields and certificates. The first under-19 participant completing the run in two hours and 45 minutes or less-the Nepal Amateur Athletic Association record-will receive a cash prize of Rs 10,000. The first ten competitors to complete the race will also receive gifts and certificates. The marathon will start from the Pokhara Stadium where participants will gather at 8AM for a medical check-up, and from where they will leave shortly after. There will also be a non-competitive Run for Fun Contest with prizes and gifts. The marathon is free and anyone can-and is encouraged to call, email, or just show up, and run for it!