Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
20 October 2010
Marathon running in Timor-Leste has kicked into gear this year with the inaugural International Dili "City of Peace" Marathon taking place on 20 June 2010. 24 year old Augusto Ramos Soares inspired the nation, coming in just one minute behind the Kenyan star and winner, Philemon Rotich, to take second place in a solid time of 2 hours and 36 minutes. From an incredibly poor farming family in rural Timor, Augusto and Olympic veteran Agueda Amaral will be joining their neighbours from regional Australia in under three weeks to compete in the NY Marathon.
The International Dili Peace Marathon is a dynamic new addition to the President's 'Dili - City of Peace' initiative, and was run on 20 June 2010. On 6 April 2010, Sydney Olympic Marathon Course Director, Stephen Jackson, confirmed the course for the Marathon to be up to international standards. The Dili Marathon attracted 1270 runners from across 28 nations, of which 115 ran the full 42 kms, while the others ran either 21, 10 or 5 km races. The President announced: "It is my honour to welcome, on behalf of the State, all of our participants and supporters of the first Dili Marathon. This is an inaugural event, which will help place Timor-Leste in its rightful place on the world stage."
The President of Timor-Leste and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, H.E. Jose Ramos-Horta, initiated a process of cooperation with the Australian Indigenous Marathon Project, which has led to the two Timorese runners and coaches joining de Castella and his team for a training programme in Australia and a week of intensive preparation for the marathon.
But it nearly didn't happen. The registration process for the New York City Marathon had already passed its deadline before the starting gun had even been fired here in Dili. The final means of registration was through the Team for Kids charity in New York, requiring a certain amount of money to be raised for guaranteed entry into the race. Team for Kids (http://www.runwithtfk.org/) raises money to allow disadvantaged children to get involved in regular health and fitness programmes where they otherwise wouldn't have access to such facilities.
With time running short and money needing to be raised, The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) came into play. ETAN was pivotal in mobilising contacts both in Australia and New York to make the project a reality.
This momentous work has been greatly helped by the generosity and quick mobilisation of countless individuals. Two of the major hurdles presented along the way were getting the right training and race gear, as well as getting travel to New York from Dili.
After their excellent support during the Dili Marathon on 18 June this year, Nike was once again keen to get involved and support Timorese runners. With the AIS coaching session organised for Sydney and New York's Central Park, the Timorese athletes are sure to excel now that they are equipped with the top gear.
Getting the athletes and delegation over to New York was no small task. From the dusty Dili streets to the city that never sleeps on the opposite side of the world was made considerably easier by the generosity of V Australia and our long-term regional airline partner in Airnorth.
The momentum gained from pushing for the sports/peace "heroes" development in Timor-Leste is now going to an all new level with this first and all important step towards the London 2012 Olympics.
Follow the progress of Augusto and Agueda at www.dilimarathon.com
Contact Michael Stone on +670 7231964
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