Akhtar, Maria win IGI Lahore Marathon

Our Correspondent
Monday, Feb 26, 2024

LAHORE: Mohammad Akhtar of Sahiwal and Maria, who is a national long-racer from WAPDA, won the half marathon (21.1 kilometre) titles of the men’s and women’s categories, respectively, in connection with the IGI Lahore Marathon 2024 (Race Series) here at the Bahria Town on Sunday.

Akhtar, a student of University of Central Punjab, did a fine job to emerge as winner of the half marathon by clocking an impressive time of one hour, eight minutes and one second. “I had trained well for this event and thanks God I finished at the top,” Mohammad Akhtar told ‘The News’ after a super finish.

“I have been training for the last seven years. I have won six national titles and four university titles and have also set a junior national record,” Akhtar said He said that he plans to play in the World Marathon in future.

“In 2030 I will play inshaAllah in the world Marathon. I am just 24 years old and will achieve global distinction in the marathon,” Akhtar said. The silver went to Sohail Aamir, also of Sahiwal, who clocked one hour, eight minutes and 15 seconds.

“I am a professional athlete and this was my fifth event in a month time and fatigue little bit affected my performance today,” Sohail Aamir told this correspondent. Sohail is an international athlete from WAPDA. He was also a member of Pakistan’s squad in the last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games and Asian Indoor Athletics Championship held in Iran recently.

Sahiwal’s Aamir Abbas, who also relates to Pakistan Road Runners, claimed bronze by clocking 1:19.59. Aamir Abbas had also finished at the pole position in the full marathon (42km) in Karachi on January 28.

Meanwhile a tough contest was also seen in the half marathon women’s category where Maria prevailed and lifted gold. Maria, who had won gold in the 5000m for WAPDA in the national championship in Attock recently, clocked 1:40.50 to finish at the summit. Shabana, also from WAPDA, clinched silver with a time of 1:49.3 while Imaan from Faisalabad grabbed bronze with a time of 1:50.22.

Meanwhile in the men’s five-kilometre race Usama Hassan of Punjab University and Adnan of Punjab Colleges shared the title as they clocked equal time of 14.01 minutes. Zohaib Shahid of Superior University got bronze with a time of 14.2 minutes.

The five-kilometre women’s section gold went to Army’s Rabeela, with a time of 19.50 minutes. Irum Shehzadi, also from WAPDA, snared silver by clocking 19.53 minutes and Khadija of WAPDA finished with a bronze with a time of 20.37.

There were total 250 entries in the half marathon while 300 entries were in the five kilometre race. A handful of foreign diplomates were also part of the showpiece which was witnessed by people with full zeal.

The runners from Lahore, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Islamabad, Azad Kashmir and Swat featured in the event. The participants showed great zeal and made good efforts to complete their respective races in the event held under the auspices of the Falcon Triathlon Club (FTC).

Islamabad Running Club, Margalla Runners, Lahore Runners and Pakistan Road Runners had also fielded their athletes. Three hours was the cut off time for half marathon while one hour for the five-kilometre race.

Milkar had provided 200 volunteers for the event. Milkar Project Director Syed Kashf Ahmed told The News that they have volunteers from 105 universities, 100 schools and 150 NGOs. A run for kids was also held in which 60 kids featured. Top security arrangements had been made for ensuring safe conduction of the event.

The medallists in all categories were awarded cash prizes at a closing ceremony which was also graced by the Bahria Town Lahore Chief Operating Officer (COO) Vice Admiral (retd) Zahid Ilyas and hockey Olympian and former Pakistan captain Shehbaz Senior. Speaking on the occasion Zahid Ilyas thanked the participants and organisers for successful conduction of the marathon. “I congratulate all participants and the organisers for making the event a great success,” Zahid said.