Rwanda’s Freddy Twahirwa and Felix Ntirenganya yesterday departed for North Korea aboard Ethiopian airways to take part in this year’s Pyongyang Marathon, also known as Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon scheduled for April 10.
Rwanda Athletics Federation (RAF) secretary general Johnson Rukundo said the duo was selected after fulfilling the required criteria to compete in the full marathon category, and have been training together for the past three months.
“The Pyongyang Marathon will give minimal points to qualify for Olympic Games, so this will be an opportunity for our athletes to try and achieve that,” said Rukundo.
This will be the fourth time for Rwanda athletes to compete in the annual marathon, with Jean Pierre Mvuyekure, who is currently based in France, taking part in the last three editions—in 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions, finishing third in 2013 and 2014.
Felix Ntirenganya, 29, who is affiliated to Police Athletics club, disclosed that together with his compatriot Twahirwa (APR) are well prepared and hoping to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.
“We had enough time to train in various parts of the country for the past three months and we have also competed in many international competitions so with that experience I am sure we will perform well,” Ntirenganya told Times Sport.
Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon is an annual marathon race contested in each April in Pyongyang and is currently categorized as an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race. It was held first in 1981 and opened for International runners in 2000.
The 2015 event was initially not open to foreigners because of concerns of Ebola, but the decision has since been reversed after the reopening of the North Korean border in March 2015. North Korea’s Pak Chol is the defending champion.