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Are you ready for the Siberian International Marathon?

By The Siberian Times reporter
19 July 2012

Maybe you've already run the great marathons in Berlin, London or New York, or perhaps Amsterdam, Hololulu or Paris.

City of Omsk International marathon, pictures: Omsk marathon organisers

It's not too late to sign up for this year's Siberian marathon in the historic city of Omsk at the confluence of the Irtysh and Om rivers.

Organisers believe it will be the biggest yet, and they also have ambitious plans for the future to make this one of the world's great and exotic marathons. 

If you can't make it in 2012, think about putting it in the dairy for next year. This year the 23rd MIZUNO Siberian International Marathon will be held on 12 August, on the same day, and at the same hour, as the 2012 Men's Olympic Marathon in London.

Siberia, Omsk, Omsk marathon

Omsk, Siberia, running, marathon

City of Omsk International marathon, pictures: Omsk marathon organisers

'The Men's London Marathon starts at 11am local time. Given the time difference between Omsk and London, the Siberian Marathon will start on Sunday at 5 pm,' said Konstantin Podbelsky, deputy minister for youth, physical education and sports of Omsk Region.

'Now it is even impossible to imagine the emotions that will be shared by the people that will run simultaneously with the world's best athletes in London.'

This plan - 'On the same day, at the same hour' - won a warm welcome from Paco Borao, president of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), who said: "I would like to congratulate you and your team on this great idea that will undoubtedly promote the Olympic ideals through participation of well-known runners and, in particular through the race itself.'

He stressed: 'Let me wish you on behalf of the AIMS a successful implementation of the project and hope that as it develops it will gain proper media coverage and attract the participation of many runners.' This year's sponsors include MIZUNO, Osha, Gazprombank, NUTRILITE, and Clear Water Company. 

Siberia, Omsk, marathon, running

This year's Maraphon in Omsk will start at the same moment as Men's London Marathon

At last year's Siberian marathon, held on 6 August 2011, more than 15.000 race enthusiasts took part amid chimes from the bells of Omsk's historic churches, with sportsmen arriving from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, as well as Australia, France, Japan, Equador, the USA, Poland, Italy, India, Venezuela, and the Netherlands.

Many competitors came too from other Russian regions, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. 

The men's contest was won by Kenya's Keiyo Josphat in 2 hours 14 minutes and 25 seconds, which left unbroken the marathon's record set in 1993 by Eduard Tukhbatullin from Ufa. He ran the distance in 2 hours 13 minutes and 2 seconds.

The female winner was Omsk's own Nina Podnebesnova in 2 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds.  She held off a strong challenge from Ethiopia's Jara Dehininet. 

In January this year it was announced that the Siberian International Marathon (SIM) has been awarded the Bronze Label conferred by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

It is the only Russian race to hold such a status. 

'The label will greatly propel further development of the SIM,' said Podbelsky.

'From now on, most elite sportsmen will regard our marathon not as some exotic racing competition in faraway Siberia but as a professional sports event that complies with  international standards. 

'And being the Omsk Region brand, the marathon will more effectively promote our region worldwide.'

The bronze status encourages elite runners to take part, since their performance counts towards their official personal rating. 

It also ensures the backing of the IAAF which, in turn, assists with sponsorship by large international companies. 

The next target is to secure silver label status as organisers seek to project the Siberian International Marathon around the globe, attracting participants from Europe and North America in particular. 

To secure this, several times more people have to run the official race of 42.195 km, said Andrey Sandalkin, Marathon non-profit partnership Race Director.

The marathon is also an emblem of the Omsk authorities' aim that the region is seen as one of the most sporting in Russia. 

For more information,  has a website in English
Runners can also register here 

If you see mention that online registration ended on July 15, ignore this. It is still open, the organisers assured us. 

TRAVEL TIP FROM The Siberian Times

Getting to Omsk from outside Russia is easy. Don't believe anyone who tells you Siberia is inaccessible.

The simplest way is initially to fly to Moscow. If you use any of Russia's three major international carriers, Aeroflot, S7 or Transaero, they will offer onward connections from the Russian capital to Omsk. Moscow to Omsk is a three hour flight.

A good source for comparing flight options and prices is - or you could take the train.

Omsk is a major hub on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway, and the journey will take you around 43 hours.

On the way, you will pass through the Ural Mountains.

Omsk has good mid-market hotels, including a modern and stylish 'Ibis'.

Other central three star hotels are the Mayak and Tourist, which both have great views over the Irtysh.

The city also boasts delightful cafes, good restaurants - and one of the best Irish pubs in Siberia - the Kolchak.... but that's for after the marathon!

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