In 2010, a handful of committed and innovative minds from Liberia and elsewhere took a leap of faith and decided to organise the first ever Liberia Marathon on the streets of Monrovia. An inclusive success story was born:
All Liberians are invited to run and race in the Liberia Marathon. Younger, older, bigger, smaller, running rookies or running experts, women or men. Female participation is particularly encouraged as well as the participation of athletes in wheelchairs and on crutches.
On the 28th August 2011 over a thousand Liberians, expatriates and visitors came together to run in the first ever Liberia Marathon and 10km race. Fun runners ran with elite athletes, able-bodied participants next to wheelchair and crutches users. Laymen competed with Mayors, Ministers, Ambassadors and Presidential candidates. There was no class, gender, background or difference – just people united in a spirit of celebration. Staging this first successful marathon in Liberia was no small thing in this remote West African country of 4 million people, which was ravaged by 14 years of civil war from 1989 to 2003. More than 250,000 people were killed and more than one-third were displaced, making for one of the most violent wars the world has ever seen. The story of the marathon is not one of history though; it is a story of emergence and celebration of a country now getting back on its feet.
Two years after the rousing success of the inaugural race, the second edition of the Liberia Marathon created even more interest, enthusiasm and attention.
On 25th August 2013, coinciding with the country’s 10 years of peace celebration, the success and excitement from 2011 was repeated and extended. “Liberia, Rising. Together” – under this motto, more than 1,200 athletes, about 1,000 tireless volunteers and thousands, but thousands of spectators lining up along the course to cheer for and applaud the runners turned the Liberia Marathon 2013 in an incredible civic event.
A special highlight was the introduction of an electronic chip timing system – for the first time ever in Liberia, all runners were electronically timed and stopwatches were only used as back-up.
No doubt, a Liberia Marathon 201 had to follow.
Take the Lead – this was the motto for the 2014 Liberia Marathon. The race was planned for August 31 and after the rousing success of the previous races, runners, sponsors and volunteers were equally excited.
The preparations were in full swing but then the deadly Ebola virus hit Liberia and it neighbouring countries Guinea and Sierra Leone. Infection rates in Liberia’s capital Monrovia and in many other parts of the country were quickly rising and so did the death toll. The health care system was stretched beyond limits.
With the heaviest heart, but with no alternative, in the full interest of public safety and in support of the Government’s efforts to combat the virus, the Liberia Marathon was cancelled.
The disappointment from all sides was immense, but so was the understanding.
The next 12 months, the Liberia people together with its international partners, fought a grim battle against the Ebola virus. Many had to suffer, and many were to mourn – but eventually the joint and tireless efforts paid off: On May 9 2015 – 42 days after without a new case in the country – Liberia was quickly declared Ebola free. What a relief! What a victory!
Liberia left Ebola behind, Liberia was ready for a fresh start, for a new beginning!
It was likely the most emotional of the Liberia Marathon editions so far. On November 8, 2015 a record breaking 1,500 hundred runners proudly crossed the finish line in the ELWA Compound on RIA Highway just in front of an empty Ebola Treatment Unit.
Tears were flowing when each and individual runner were celebrated. The traditional 10k races got the crowds to cheer in amazement. And instead of the full-marathon distance, the 2015 edition successfully piloted a half-marathon race over 13.1 miles.
So does that mean the next edition will just offer the full, the half and the 10k distance…..??
t has been too long, it is time to continue writing history and to continue the race:
The Liberia Marathon Series 2021/2022 is on – including a major 10k racing event towards the end of 2021 and the really long distances to follow in spring 2022.
Find out more about this fantastic race here! Click here