29-04-2021 - News

Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef: an exceptional elite line-up on Swiss territory


The running elite will meet this Sunday in Geneva for the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef.

Around thirty international elite athletes will come to Geneva to fight for different objectives:

  • Female and male athletes labelled Gold, Silver and Bronze by World Athletics will be keen to beat their personal best or even the all-time records on Swiss territory. Amongst them are five men with a personal best under 2h07’10 and four women with a personal best under 2h27’36.
  • Others will be aiming to obtain the minimum requirements to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2021.
  • Henry Wanyoike, the triple Paralympic champion in the 5,000m, 10,000m and World Record Holder in the blind marathon, will take part in his quest for qualification for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef organising committee has delivered an inclusive event for everyone for many years: from the rising stars to the elite, from the young to the old, with or without disabilities. It is this diversity, as well as the quality of the organisation, that has enabled the event to obtain the World Athletics Label every year – and it is the only event in Switzerland to have been awarded this label in recent years. In order to remain true to its DNA, the event will proudly welcome some thirty able-bodied and disabled professional athletes, each with their own objectives – from breaking records, to qualifying for the Olympic or Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2021.

The event, which is one of the few on the international scene to be held for months due to the pandemic, will also allow Geneva, a city of running, to demonstrate its know-how in the field.

A legend in his native Kenya and internationally, Henry Wanyoike, the three-time Paralympic Champion (gold medallist in the 5,000m in Sydney and in the 5,000m and 10,000m in Athens), and world record holder in the blind marathon in a time of 2h31’31, accompanied by his guide and long-time friend Paul Wanyoike, will be aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Amongst the able-bodied men, the favourites are Ethiopians Fentahun Hunegnaw (2h06’04) and Tesfa Wokneth (2h06’27), the latter having achieved his best performance at the Seville Marathon in 2020. Nevertheless, the competition promises to be intense as Bahrain’s Shumi Dechasa, winner of the Hamburg Marathon in 2014 in 2h06’43 - who was second in the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef in 2019 in 2h09’55 and is also the 2019 World Military Marathon Champion - will be a formidable athlete.

Three-time Gyeongiu Marathon winner Kennedy Cheboror (2h06’59) as well as Bahraini runner-up Zelalem Bacha are also amongst the favourites. Alongside them, there will be several winners of international marathons and half-marathons of mainly African nationalities, but also two Europeans; the Belgian Vincent Bierinckx and the Frenchman Brice Morisseau, who won the Course de l’Escalade in the popular category in 2018 and will be running the Marathon distance for the first time in Geneva.

The women’s competition is expected to be just as fierce with the participation of the two Kenyans Maureen Chepkemoi (2h24’16) - the youngest athlete to take part - and Lucy Karimi (2h24’46), winner of the Prague Marathon. They can expect though competition from the Ethiopians Eticha Fantu (2h26’14), winner of the Chengdu Marathon, and Tigist Memuye (2h27’35), as well as Hungary’s Zsofia Erdelyi who will be trying to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The event promises to be an historic edition for the Harmony Genève Marathon for Unicef and also for the champions who will be present on Sunday 2 May in Geneva. All the more so as the records for the event and the marathon distance on Swiss territory could fall. The current records for the event have been held since 2019 by Kenyans Bernard Too (2h09’45) and Joséphine Chepkoech (2h29’11). On Swiss territory, records over the marathon distance date back to 2013 for the men (Tadesse Abraham in 2h07’45 in Zurich) and more recently this year in Belp for the women (Helen Bekele in 2h24’57).

Benjamin Chandelier, Event Director, would like to thank the event’s partners: “Despite this particular context, our committee is very proud to be able to organise this elite race and I would like to thank, on behalf of the entire organisation, the entire marathon family: our loyal volunteers, the authorities and the competent administrations of the Canton and City of Geneva for their precious help, the other communes that we usually cross in 2022, and finally all of our partners for their support.”

The men will open proceedings with a start at 7am. The women and the two handi-sport athletes, ambassadors of the “Light for the World” association, will then follow with a start at 7.05am.

This race is reserved for professionals of the discipline who will be supervised by the setting up of a health bubble.

Follow the elites challenge

Due to the health crisis, public are not allowed on site and are instead invited to follow the live video of the race which will be sponsored by our faithful Partner Generali on athle.ch.

The popular challenge will take place from May 1st to 30th

Beyond the elite race, the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef opens its popular challenge with an adapted version from Saturday 1st May to Sunday 30th May. Participants will be able to run, individually, on one of the four distances on the program: Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10km, 5km #LikeAGirl by Always.

More information on the website: https://www.harmonygenevemarathon.com/en

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