Maratongeren : Micha Havreluk's interview

09 Mar 2008 23:04
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

Micha Havreluk is a 57 year old Germanic languages teacher. He has run 191 marathons at the time this interview was conducted and plans to run his 200th in June 2008 at the Marathon du vignoble d’Alsace in France. He organizes two marathons in Belgium and is the webmaster of two running clubs and If you want to learn more about Micha, visit his personal website.

Micha Havreluk

Hello Micha, you’re the proud organizer of two marathons in the province of Limburg, Belgium : LPM Marathon and Maratongeren. In this interview, we’ll focus on Maratongeren which will take place on May first. How old is the marathon. Why was it created in the first place? Well, when you read this, there was never a Tongeren marathon before! Reason : it’s the first and probably the last! Since last year our athletics club ‘Athletic club De Demer’ has been the owner of a brand new race track (8 lanes) in a renewed stadium ‘De Motten’, close to the center of Tongeren City. Since then there have been several competitions on the track. In order to make the existence of the new track known to a wider range of people, we thought it would be opportune to get ‘off track-runners’ acquainted with the track. So the start and finish line is drawn on the track.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it? The route is well known to a lot of runners from the Euregion (Belgium, Holland and Germany) because the famous Tungri-run – a yearly half marathon (in 2008 for the 19th successive year) – is held on the 1st of May. So it’s simple : 2 laps of 21 K makes 42 K. The course runs through the beautiful south of the province of Limburg, partly through the Kevie, a green lung of meadows and wetland in a protected wildlife reservation. It also runs through the typical cornfields and hollow field-tracks, slightly up and down but doable! But you always keep the stately basilica of Tongeren in sight, as a safe beacon to guide you to the finish line.

How many runners do you expect on Thursday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract? Belgium has no marathon tradition, even big cities as Antwerp and Brussels can not get more than 2000 runners on the start line. So we stay modest and hope that about 500 runners will come to the ‘maratongeren’. Any runner who wants to run in a beautiful setting like Tongeren’s surroundings is welcome!

Do you organize other races during the same day? If so, on what distances? Of course, besides the marathon – like each year – the Tungri-run exists of more races : 21 K, 10 K, 5 K, 2 K and a 1 K.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect in Tongeren? You may not believe this, but the 1st of May has been a sunshiny day, ever since the first edition … a rare exception possible ….

Have you planned festivities around the marathon? Not especially, but there’s always a lot to do on the 1st of May in Tongeren. The Tungri-run is one of the biggest ‘street races’ in the country. More than 2500 runners will fill the streets and even more spectators complete the sports scene that day. Moreover, Tongeren is the oldest town in Belgium, an ancient Roman town with lots of historical remainders … so it would be a shame to leave Tongeren without visiting these historic sites!

The marathon finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Tongeren before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing? As I said before, a visit to the town center is a must … the statue of Ambiorix, the leader of the Eburon tribe, who beat a part of Ceasar’s army near Tongeren, overlooks the market place, where there are a lot of nice ‘grand cafe’s’ and restaurants with nice pavements …

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of 42k195 to make them register for the Maratongeren? If you want to run a unique marathon, uniquely because it will never be organized again, you must register for the Maratongeren, in the beautiful historic scenery of Belgium’s oldest town.

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