Moldova’s Marathon

If you’ve run in the Boston Marathon or the New York Marathon, maybe it’s time for you to step up and compete in the annual marathon here in Moldova’s capital city.

On Sunday morning, 17,000 runners from here and other countries participated in the Chișinău International Marathon. Cheering onlookers filled the central square. Nicolai Gorbușco and Olesea Smovjenco won the men’s and women’s marathons, along with winners of the half-marathon, 10 km and 5 km competitions.

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Chișinău’s marathon is only three years old but its local organizing committee does a great job of producing a professional event with everything you’d expect: racing bibs, water stations, a big stage, music and colorful signs.

There are sponsors ranging from a local supermarket chain, bank and television station to familiar international names such as Lenovo, Hyundai and Herbalife. Booths sell running shoes, running clothes, vitamin supplements and souvenirs. Food merchants offer everything from energy drinks to draft beer and barbecue.

IMG_7936As in other cities, Moldova’s marathon disrupts local traffic and bus schedules. I discovered this on Sunday when the bus I usually take downtown wasn’t running. I had to scramble to find another bus to take me to a meeting I’d scheduled at a downtown library. (The people I was supposed to meet didn’t show up at all.)

IMG_7943If you’re a runner, put the Chișinău International Marathon on your list. You’ll enjoy participating and you can spend a few days exploring Moldova’s other attractions, such as its churches, wineries and countryside. You’ll also get a cool medal, like the one you see here. Boston and New York are great, to be sure, but how many of your friends have a medal like this?

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