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Brussels 20km race successfully returns after one-year hiatus

Illustration picture shows the 41st edition of the Brussels' 20km run, Sunday 12 September 2021 in Brussels. (BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ)
07:04 13/09/2021

Around 17,000 people took part in the 41st edition of the Brussels 20km run on Sunday, a much lower figure than in previous years but an encouraging number for the return of the race after its postponement last year due to the coronavirus crisis.

On a mild and sunny morning, the runners – which included over 800 disabled participants – were joined by around 2,000 walkers, who were included as an official category for the first time. Among those walking the course was Queen Mathilde who showed her support for the initiative designed to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in sports.

"We’re happy to have been able to organise the race this year and to have been able to overcome all the difficulties, even those which occurred at the last minute with the imposition of the Covid Safe ticket," said Carine Verstraeten, general secretary of the Syndicat d'initiative - Bruxelles Promotion 1886, the association which organises the annual event. "The weather was nice, there were no incidents on the course, and it was a very nice edition of the race. Of course, charities raised funds for projects through their participation, but we were only able to organise the teams from July 1so we had a lot of teams, but unfortunately fewer participants."

In line with the regulations for large scale public events, each of the participants had to show a Covid Safe Ticket to enter the starting area. Wearing a mask was not mandatory.

The race, which began at 10am, was won by Amaury Paquet from Liège in a time of 59 minutes and 31 seconds, very close to the record of 59:05 set by Kenyan Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa in 2014. The ladies’ race was won by Florence De Cock, also from Liège, who crossed the finish line in one hour, nine minutes and 50 seconds.

The last person to cross the line was a 92-year-old man who finished the race just before 5pm, cheered on by volunteers from Samusocial, the social inclusion organisation who joined the event and provided helpers for the first time this year. "We often talk about the first, those who win, but we never celebrate those who encounter more difficulties in our society and who still hang on," a spokesperson for Samusocial said. "That's why in this race we wait for the last ones, to run or walk the last kilometres with them, providing them with encouragement to show them that they matter too."

As well as support, the event also drew protests with activists from the Extinction Rebellion movement spraying the asphalt on the course with graffiti: "Total Energies - sponsors of death," denouncing the sponsorship of the race by the fossil fuel company Total Energies.

 

Written by Nick Amies