OMSK, January 07, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s most extreme long-distance race, the 24th Christmas half-marathon, started in Omsk, a city in southwestern Siberia, at 20 degrees below zero.
It brought together around 600 athletes from seventeen Russian regions as well as from Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Brazil and Kazakhstan.
Russia’s biggest winter running event has been held in Omsk since 1991 and by tradition it kicks off the track and field season.
According to the organising committee, the most comfortable weather for runners was in 2008 - minus 9.7 degrees Celsius and the toughest weather in 2001 - minus 39.1 degrees Celsius. However, neither heavy frost nor snowstorm could keep from choosing the most courageous and tolerant athletes in the race.
Last year Siberian residents Artyom Ekimov from Abakan and Yevgeniya Danilova from Omsk finished the 21.5 kilometre race first.
Today Omsk is Russia’s largest marathon centre. It is one of the country’s six marathons that has a road certified by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and Russia’s only road having the IAAF Road Race Bronze Label.
As a rule, dozens of thousands of athletes and amateur runners take part in different races.
In May Omsk will host a unique half-marathon, handicap, where chances to win for athletes of all age groups will be equal. At first, veteran athletes will start their race, while the youngest and well-trained athletes will be the last to start, said Alexander Fabritsius, the Omsk region minister of youth, physical culture and sport.