By Robbie Blakeley and Brennan Stark, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Professional and novice runners from all over the world gathered last Sunday, July 17th for the City of Rio de Janeiro Marathon. Patrick Tambwe Ngoie of France won the men’s division with a time of 2:18:17, while Kum Ok Kim of North Korea won the women’s division with a time of 2:35:22. The marathon is renowned for having one of the most beautiful running routes in the world, a favorite with Cariocas, outside Brazilians, and foreigners alike.
Marathoners seemed very satisfied with the marathon after the event, commenting on its improvements over the past few years since 2009. Also mentioned was the “spectacular coastline,” the “strong headwind” to help prevent overheating, and the exemplary organization, which provided everything from ample water stations to gels, isotonics to plentiful bathrooms and helpful post-race support.
Some also commented on the relatively smooth and flat running surface, which provided ideal running conditions, especially over the traditional 26.2 mile marathon course.
All these ideal conditions may have served to the benefit of American marathon runner Chris Solarz, who broke a Guinness World Record in the Rio Marathon on Sunday. The 32 year-old from Rockville, Maryland completed race in an exceptional 2:49:26 time.
While Solarz’ time was nearly 32 minutes behind the winner and he came in 61st, more importantly the marathon secured him the record for “Fastest Aggregate Marathon on All Seven Continents.” Afterwards Solarz commented: “I had an incredible day out there.”
He went on to explain why he chose the Cidade Maravilhosa for the South American chapter of his quest. “I chose the Rio Marathon after speaking with many friends who have done it. They told me about the great benefits of this marathon – beautiful beaches, relatively flat course, and well organized race. The organizers have really done a good job making the race available to international runners.”
The athlete was running in his 188th marathon, an achievement that has taken him to almost thirty countries, and to achieve his “Fastest Aggregate” feat, Solarz has run marathons in Boston (North America), Rio de Janeiro (South America), Berlin (Europe), Marrakech (Africa), Dubai (Asia), King George Island (Antarctica) and Adelaide (Australia).
He completed the seven marathons in a total time of 22:12:08, beating the previous record by an hour and a half. Nicholas Twomey had previously completed the seven challenges in 23:41:49.
And Solarz already held one marathon record before this title, earned for completing a marathon while tethered together. The race took the group just three hours and twelve minutes.
The scenery, as well as the cooler weather at this time of year in the southern hemisphere, makes the Rio marathon a favorite with running enthusiasts the world over. It attracts the most athletes of all the South American marathons; last year, over 4,000 people took to the streets to compete, with a similar number estimated to have taken part this year as well.