Homlal Shrestha of Tribhuvan Army Club touches the finishing line during the fourth Lumbini Peace Marathon in Kapilvastu on Thursday.
KAPILVASTU, March 2: The departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club’s Homlal Shrestha has won the Lumbini Peace Marathon title for two straight years.
The marathon is held in Kapilvastu marking the occasion of Falgun Shukla Purnima when Lord Buddha returned to his birthplace Lumbini after gaining enlightenment.
Shrestha finished the 42.195-km marathon in two hours 54 minutes 53 seconds.
Similarly, Tribhuvan Army athletes Hari Prasad Rimal and Khagendra Bhatta finished the marathon in the second and third positions with the timings of two hours 57 minutes 24 seconds and three hours three minutes 40 seconds, respectively.
Shrestha received Lumbini Ashoka Peace Prize worth Rs 100,000, while the runner-up Rimal was rewarded with Kapilvastu Xuen Xang Peace Prize of Rs 75,000, and the third-placed Bhatta got Mayadevi Garden Uthant Prize of Rs 50,000.
The spiritual marathon began from Kudan, the place where Buddha is believed to have met his parents for the first time after his enlightenment. The trail passed through Buddhist heritage sites like Tilaurakot Palace, Niglihawa, Banganga River and concluded at the Lumbini Sacred Garden.
“I was an ultra runner first and I trained for marathon since two years now. I am delighted to win the title here at the birthplace of Lord Buddha,’’ Shrestha said.
The marathon was organized jointly by Lumbini Peace Marathon Pvt Ltd and Adventure Sports Nepal. It was supported by a number of organizations including Lumbini Area Development Trust, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Vaidya’s Organization of Industrial and Trading Houses (VOITH), Hotel Kasai, Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Buddha Air, among others.
Likewise, Tirtha Pun of Indian Army won the half marathon of 21-km category, and Tribhuvan Army athletes Ramji Basnet and Tikaraj Katwal finished the race in the second and third places, respectively. The winner took home Rs 50,000, whereas the runner-up and the third-placed athletes bagged prize monies of Rs 35,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively.
A total of 94 athletes from India, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United States of America (USA), Germany, South Korea, Sweden, among others, took part in the tournament.
Similarly, in the five-kilometer-run organized for students, Sunil Thapa finished first with the timing of 17 minutes and five seconds, while Sanjay Rai (17:07) and Satendra Yadav (17:24) finished second and third respectively. While the winner took home Rs 10,000, the runner-up and the third-placed athlete received a cash prize of Rs 7,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively.
Speaking at the program, Chairman of the Lumbini Peace Marathon Bikram Pandey said that the main objective of the marathon was to promote Lumbini-Kapilvastu region at the national and the international levels through a spiritual sport.
“We are very encouraged with the athlete footfalls. The marathon carries a special importance since it is organized in the birthplace of Lord Buddha and we are hopeful that the event will expand further in the coming years,” Pandey added.
The Olympic standard 42.195-km marathon is the first in the tournament, which was started since 2012. The marathon was played from Dohani to Lumbini Sacred Garden in 2013. Olympians Kharga Ranabhat and Baikuntha Manandhar started the marathon from Kudan and Dohani respectively by lighting the torch.
Representatives of Lumbini Area Development Trust, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents, Adventure Sports Society Nepal, among others were present in the closing ceremony.
On the eve of the peace marathon, a three-day cycle rally was organized from Kathmandu to Lumbini. Named the Great Buddhist Trail, the cycle rally saw a participation of around 50 cyclists. The event started from Swoyambhu and concluded at Lumbini.