11 NOV 2000 General News Veracruz, Mexico

Veracruz embraces World Half Marathon

Veracruz embraces World Half Marathon
Sean Wallace-Jones in Veracruz

11 November - Veracruz, Mexico – The rarefied atmosphere of the World Half Marathon Championships is generally vastly different from the mass participation that has become symbolic of the big city marathons.

Here in Veracruz, the organisers of the 9th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships have been altering all that.

Of course, the Championship races themselves remain the domain of the world’s elite runners –coming to Veracruz from over 50 countries - but around the main event it seems like the whole population of this major port on Mexico’s east coast is either running in one of the three popular races organised before the Championships or at least planning to line the 21.095 km course that runs along the Veracruz shoreline.

In the first of these events on Friday, thousands of youngsters competed – some running and some walking – filling the streets leading to the Faro with an athletic activity, the like of which has never been seen in this part of Mexico.

Today, two further popular races are organised, for men and for women in the hours leading up to the Championship races that will start with the women’s event at 8.00 am on Sunday morning, followed by the men’s race at 9.30 am (local time – GMT +7).

The start and finish take place alongside the historic Faro building, which housed the government of Mexico for a short time during the 1914-1915 Mexican Revolution, when Veracruz became for the second time in its history (the first was during la Riforma of 1858-1860) the capital of Mexico.

Today, the Faro may be overshadowed by the towering Pemex building opposite and by the massive hulls of the cargo vessels in the port it overlooks, but it stands out as a symbol of Mexico’s proud history.

On Sunday, the building will witness another small piece of history, as it becomes guardian to the first edition of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championship ever to take place out of Europe – perhaps the start of another revolution in itself.