Cuba's former double World 800m champion Ana Fidelia Quirot, ran the Havana International Half Marathon (Marabana) for the first time, on Sunday 17 November 2002, a day which was characterised by very bad weather conditions.
The 39-year old from Santiago de Cuba needed little over 1:42 hours to complete the course, in her second attempt at the distance, seven years after running 1:33.
"I am very happy with my time, considering I did not train for the distance. I enjoyed the race, but the head winds and the constant rain made very difficult", said Quirot, who spent more than three hours signing autographs and taking photographs with fans and runners from several countries.
The two time Olympic medallist - bronze in Barcelona ‘92 and silver in Atlanta'96 – who quit world class athletics after the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games in Maracaibo, aims to compete at the World Masters Championships, next July in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
"I noticed a great atmosphere during the course and many athletes and people from the crowd supported me all the way,” added the best Cuban female athlete of all time.
Asked about her plans in Puerto Rico, the Cuban star stated that, "I would like to run from 400 to 1500 metres, and take a look at the masters records and see whether they can be broken.”
Quirot, IAF Athlete of the Year in 1989, is used to coping with challenges. She started training only 38 days after giving birth to her first child. Today, she runs up to 8km on Havana's Quinta Avenida from Monday to Saturday and also does one hour of aerobics and one more of weightlifting.
The Gothenburg ‘95 and Athens '97 World champion finds free time every day to exercise, combining her domestic work and the raising of her two children: Alberto Alejandro, one year and 10 months old, and 3 year-old Carla Fidelia.
Quirot’s participation was the highlight of Marabana, whose times were the slowest in the 16 editions of the race, due to the adverse weather conditions.
In the Half Marathon, Aguelmis Rojas, 24, won for the third consecutive time (1:07:22), while in the women’s section 2001 Central American and Caribbean gold medallist Mariela Gonzalez (1:20:26) claimed her seventh title and sixth consecutive victory since 1997. The men’s and women’s Marathons were won by the Cubans Angel Ferreiro (2:36:26) and Zenaida Alonso (3:12:19), respectively.
Marabana drew nearly 3000 runners from 80 nations in both distances, to celebrate the National Sports Day and the 483rd anniversary of the foundation of Havana.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF