A carnival atmosphere on day one of the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef

As the sunset over Lake Geneva, thousands or runners, walkers and Nordic walkers brought the first day of racing at the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef to a rousing close. Crowds lined the finishing straight in Geneva’s famous Jardin Anglais to cheer home the runners in the 10km day-night race – a unique event combining the best of downtown Geneva and the surrounding countryside at dusk.

Live music and cries of encouragement spurred more than 3,800 competitors on, with Joseph Bago from Switzerland crossing the line first in 33:26. Scotland’s Victoria Crawford won the women’s event in 39:06 after finishing second last year. Earlier in the day 1,400 six to 15 year-olds raced along the shores of Lake Geneva in the junior events before another 1,400 runners took part in the women’s-only Genevoise. Olga Mallet from France finished the 6.5km course first in a time of 26:15.

By Sunday afternoon nearly 16,000 running enthusiasts of all ages and abilities will have participated in eight different events. The action finishes tomorrow with the half-marathon (including wheelchair race), relay marathon and marathon. Hopes are high for a new course record with a high-class international field of elite men and women taking to the full-marathon startline.

A festival of running in the Jardin Anglais

The Marathon Village in the Jardin Anglais was drenched in sunshine as thousands of competitors, supporters and Geneva locals reveled in the party atmosphere. From giant Zumba classes to games of foot golf and more than 40 exhibitors stands in the packed expo space, the village has been a hive of activity since 10am on Friday when the first runners picked up their bibs.

In total, 127 nations are represented in the international field, but only one competitor will have the honour of representing two countries – Formula One star and local hero Romain Grosjean competes in tomorrow’s half-marathon under both the Swiss and French flag. Also in the half-marathon field is inspirational 80-year-old Gerald Duron – the oldest of the weekend’s competitors.

Race director, Benjamin Chandelier said: “We’re incredibly proud to organise such an inclusive event. With runners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, there really is a race for everyone at the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef. It’s been a carnival in the marathon village all day and the 10km race this evening was something else. I can’t think of another European city that embraces running quite like Geneva.”

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