ASTANA – Runners endurance will be tested Sept. 13 during the marathon organised in the capital by the British-Kazakh Society (BKS) and Air Astana. BKS has been developing races in the parks of the cities, Almaty and London with the support of Kazakhstan’s largest aviation company since 2009.
“This is the very first full-length marathon in the capital of Kazakhstan. It took us six years to build it. Charity races and marathons have always been very popular in North America and Europe since the early 20th century. Kazakhstan is just finally catching up with the world marathon mania,” said BKS CEO Gauhar Bramley-Fentonin in an Aug. 21 interview with The Astana Times.
She and former Agip KCO employee Saule Kudaibergenova devised the idea of the race after participating in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London in 2008.
“Over the years, these events have grown in stature and we are delighted to accommodate the full distance this year. Runners will be able to choose to compete in the five km, 10 km, half-marathon or full-marathon events,” said Bramley-Fenton.
Organisers expect to attract participants not only from Kazakhstan, but also from many other countries, and Air Astana has launched special offers to accommodate them.
“The event gives us an enormous opportunity to market Astana as an international destination, very much as many cities around the world have done with other sporting events,” said Richard Ledger, vice president of worldwide sales at Air Astana, reported Traveldailynews.asia.
More than 400 participants have already signed up and coordinators expect 200 additional runners to register.
“I like running marathons in the places where I live, because it is a great way to get to see the whole city and also to meet other people who like to run, like fitness and enjoy it like you. Running is becoming a trend here. A lot of people here are really active and really concerned about their health and fitness. It is great that there is a community of runners in Astana and I want to support this event and the whole idea, fitness activities of the city and the community,” said Megan Levanduski, one of the participants of the event and the founder of Astana Running Club, in an Aug. 20 interview with The Astana Times.
All the money raised will be donated to Ayala Charity Fund’s Room-Doctor project, which provides assistance to the state children’s medical and educational institutions. According to the marathon’s official website, Room-Doctor structures the environment in a special way, filling it with different kinds of stimulants that affect all the child’s senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Soft colours, soft light, fragrances and soothing music – these offerings in the sensory room help the child relax and calm down, which is especially important for youngsters with various disabilities.
“There are 325 children with impaired intellectual and developmental needs of varying degrees; some of them are orphans and children from socially-disadvantaged, low-income families. [Of that number,] 260 children are disabled children in a special boarding school in Astana. Most of the children live in a boarding school during the school year. The cost of the sensory room is 3.51 million tenge (US$14,024),” according to the website.