ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46

His morning’s schedule was known a week ahead

The attendance of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle as the chief guest at last Sunday’s Marathon was made public at least a week ahead of the event. The chief organiser of the event and Adishta Sports Society President Pradeep Wijewardene said the marathon was organized in mid March and posters announcing the attendance of the high profile minister were put up by March 28.

The event was organized by the Adishta Sports Society based in Weliweriya at Gampaha with the backing of the Sports Ministry. Mr. Wijewardene said the organizers hoped to popularize the marathon with the help of veteran marathon runner Deshabandu K. A. Karunaratne, better known as Karu.

He said the event could not be started at the scheduled time as the organizers were not ready with the ‘feeding points’ – the points at which the runners were to be provided with water and nourishment.

Mr. Wijewardene, a Mathematics teacher said security was provided by some 150 police personnel who had been present in the area from 4:00 am. Titled the ‘Sirilak Dahas Gau Marathon’, it was to be held on April 6. The open event would cover a distance of 42 kilometres and the under 21 event was for a distance of 21 kilometres.

The Marathon was an open event with the approval and backing of the Sri Lanka Athletics Association with the aim of selecting runners to compete on a national level. A large number of people from outstations had visited the location making it difficult for the organizers to clearly identify the participants.

“We wanted to bring back the status of the marathon to what it used to be and give its due place in society, with the help of Karu who has come to be known as the father of the Sri Lankan marathon. It was he who invited Minister Fernandopulle,” Mr. Wijewardane said.

He said officials from the Sports Ministry had also taken part in the event providing medical assistance and helping out with road measurements. He said he was only four metres away from the spot where Minister Fernandopulle was standing when the blast occurred and narrowly escaped with a wounded ear.

However, his 24 year old brother who had been present at the event to help him was also killed in the blast.

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