The tenth anniversary edition of the marathon raised funds for a scholarship for a student at the Pleven Medical University.

On 19 May, the tenth anniversary edition of the Friendship Marathon took place in Pleven. More than 800 participants took part in the event, including runners from Algeria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the United States.

This year’s oldest participant was 87-year-old Petar Petrov, while 75-year-old Alan Kay, running in Pleven for the eighth time, was the oldest international competitor.

All participants ran for charity – a scholarship for a deserving student who has lost one or both parents or has been brought up in an orphanage to be enrolled at the Pleven Medical University. The initiative is part of the BCause Foundation’s campaign “Ready for Success“.

During the Marathon, in cooperation with the Bulgarian Association for People with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID), a mass cross race was held in support of people with different abilities. 

The anniversary edition of the Friendship Marathon was opened by the Mayor of Pleven, Dr. Valentin Hristov, and the President of the Municipal Council, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ivan Malkodanski, who also participated in the 3 kilometer mass-cross ‘I can’. The US Ambassador to Bulgaria, H.E. Kenneth Merten, congratulated the organisers and participants with an address, read at the opening of the race. He emphasised that the Pleven Marathon is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of unity and friendship and contributes to building a society in which people with disabilities are recognized for their abilities, talents, and potential.

“The name Pleven Friendship Marathon’ was named by Ilie Rosu, a Romanian colonel from the reserves, who ran over 280 marathons with national flags in his hands with a message of friendship and peace. Stanislav Georgiev organised the first edition of the marathon in 2014 and put his heart and soul into developing it as a charity event and a celebration of his hometown.”said Ms Stanimira Georgieva from the social enterprise ‘Ice-Option’, one of the co-organisers of the event and added:

“I am happy that for 10 years now, together with our partners, we have continued their work of bringing together young and old from near and far in Pleven to share the joy of sport and to nurture the spirit of unity and friendship among young people”

Among the official guests were Plamen Tachev, MP, Grozdan Karadzhov, MP and former Minister of Regional Development, Oliver Patton from the British Embassy to Bulgaria, Alexandru Dodan, Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of Romania, Eric Burnett, Principal at the Anglo-American School in Bulgaria. They all welcomed the participants and wished them good luck at the start.

The participants in the race were divided into six main disciplines — the challenging 42.2 km Classic Marathon, the  21.1 km Half Marathon, Relay (2 x 10.55 km), 10.55 km, 3 km Free Mass Cross ‘I can’ and the children’s race Fun Run Kids. Once again, the Fun Run Kids was the most popular event, with more than 400 children competing in three age groups.

The prizes for the winners in each category were presented on the stage of the central square Vazrazhdane by representatives of the partners Euroins, Leoni Bulgaria, Junior Achievement Bulgaria, Nestle, Decathlon, Pleven Municipality and the Embassy of Romania.

Nathan Flair from the UK won the tenth edition of the Pleven Friendship Marathon. He ran the classic distance of 42.195km in 2:46:32. His runners-up were Anton Kadiev and Yosif Yosifov.

In the women’s race, 59-year-old Malina Ivanova was again the fastest with a time of 03:59:15, followed by Nina Ruseva and Bilyana Shumanova who came in second and third, respectively.

This year the half marathon race was very challenging. Nikolay Efremov (1:23:25) from the Asics FrontRunner team was the fastest, followed by Assen Vatev and Tsvetelin Marinov. Margarita Drenova won the women’s race in 1:45:29, ahead of Boryana Angelova and Galya Yuchormanska.

The winners in the 10.55 km race were Georgi Gergov in 00:36:05 in the men’s race and Veselka Dilyanova in 00:43:19 in the women’s race. Second and third places went to Genadi Genadiev (00:40:57) and Stanislav Kozhuharov (00:42:15) in the men’s race and Tsvetelina Hristova (00:44:28) and Oleksandra Kirilova (00:45:03) in the women’s race.

In the relay, the first place went to the Ruse Run team of Mihail Minev and Stefan Stanchev (01:28:22), followed by the Canaries team of Tsvetelin Gergov and Krasimir Marinski (01:30:24) and the Stoyanovi in Attack team of Svetozar and Maria Stoyanovi (01:34:56).

Over the years, the Friendship Marathon in Pleven has evolved into one of the most popular and eagerly awaited events in the region, never failing to attract a diverse audience. The marathon is not just a race for established runners, but a sporting and cultural celebration attended by hundreds of residents and visitors of the town every year. This year, during the event, visitors had the opportunity to take part in group activities and sports as part of the Park+ initiative, supported by DECATHLON Bulgaria.

Volunteers from Bulgaria, the US, Great Britain, Brazil and Romania, as well as representatives of the Roma community in Pleven, took part in the organisation of this year’s Friendship Marathon. Through their teamwork, they proved that building a fair social environment is a cause that transcends all language, cultural and national barriers.

The 10-th Pleven Friendship Marathon in is organized by leading foundations and social enterprises in Bulgaria, whose main mission is to support people in a disadvantaged position and with different abilities: “Eyes Open“, Sports Club “To Run”“Maria’s World” foundation , “Social Future – Jamba” FoundationNational Alliance for Social Responsibility, in partnership with Pleven MunicipalitySports Club “Elite Running” from Romania, Bulgarian Association for Persons with Intellectual DisabilitiesBCause FoundationAutism Today, and with the support of many companies for which corporate and social responsibility, contribution to building a fair social environment and a sustainable future are at the core of their business.

Photos from 10th Pleven Friendship Marathon 2024

Photographer: Daniel Kolev

More than 800 people from 13 countries ran for a good cause in the Friendship Marathon in Pleven