The Ukraine is not a model of stability these days. The president has been ousted after a bloody crackdown on protesters and Russian troops occupy the Crimea. It’s a tense situation that could erupt into open war at any moment.
So naturally the Kiev Marathon, scheduled to take place April 27, will be cancelled, right?
Not so, say race organizers.
Runner’s World reports that the Kiev Marathon will go on as planned. “It is true unfortunately, that we are going through some turmoil. However let me assure you that Kiev is now in a calm and peaceful ‘mood’ and we are trying to deliver this message to as many people as possible,” race spokesman Victoria Gavrylenko told the magazine.
The start and finish lines have been moved from Independence Square, the site of ongoing protests, she said.
So far the announcement doesn’t seem to be inspiring much confidence among runners. Only 273 participants have registered as of March 10, according to the race website, compared to the 1,693 runners at last year’s starting line.
Kiev isn’t the only trouble spot to be hosting a major race this year. Runners who want to spice up their race calendars with State Department travel warnings have some options:
Pyongyang Marathon, North Korea
For the first time in its 27-year history, the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, as it’s officially known, will allow Americans to participate. The race will be held April 13 as part of the multi-day festival honoring the birthday of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder. Americans looking to engage in a little “running diplomacy” can contact Uri Tours for packages starting at $1,650.
100k Pharonic Race, Egypt
This unique race, to be held November 21, 2014, follows a 100 km route past several of Egypt’s most ancient pyramids and ends in Saqqara, on the outskirts of Cairo. Cairo has been experiencing near-constant turmoil and sporadic violence since the Arab Spring of 2011. To register visit EgyptianMarathon.com.
Erbil International Marathon, Iraq
This marathon in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s relatively peaceful Kurdistan region, was established in 2011 to promote “love, peace and non-violence in Iraq,” says the race website. The next Erbil Marathon is to be held October 31, according to the race’s Facebook page.
Beirut Marathon, Lebanon
Despite the city’s growing refugee crisis and the constant threat of terrorism, over 36,000 people participated in the Beirut Marathon and associated races in November of last year. There have been seven suicide bombings in Beirut just this year, according to the Washington Post, and the State Department has warned U.S. citizens not to travel to Lebanon. For those nevertheless inclined to show their solidarity with Lebanese runners, the next edition of the race will be held November 9, 2014.