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The third consecutive Dili ‘City of Peace’ Marathon took place in Dili on Saturday 12thof May, 2012. This international event was created by the office of former President of the Republic of Timor-Leste Ramos-Horta as a peace building initiative. The event is run by the Creative Activities Unit of the President of the Republic along with partner organizations, such as UN agencies and the National Athletic Federation.  

The marathon’s goal is to support Dili as a model ‘City of Peace’ allowing people to look towards the future while overcoming some of the conflict and trauma of the past. The event featured a full and half marathon, as well as a 5 and 10 kilometer ‘Run for Peace’ for adults and children alike. Almost 8,000 people took part in the sporting activities which commenced and finished in front of the historic Government Palace overlooking Dili’s waterfront.

UNMIT and UN agencies assisted with the coordination of the marathon activities and provided entertainment and refreshments for the participants. Many of the participants ran to raise money for six partner charities which supports the development of Timor-Leste in areas such as the empowerment of women, affordable health services and education. Among the participants there were two Timorese athletes who will compete in the 2012 London Olympics’ marathon- an historic occasion as it will be the first time any Timorese person will have done so. The winner of the marathon was Timorese athlete Calisto Da Costa who finished in a time of two hours forty-six minutes, while the winning female athlete Marquita Dos Santos came in at three hours and nineteen minutes.

The 5km and 10km Run for Peace was free to enter and there are a wide range of activities organized by UN agencies for the participating Timorese youth afterwards. UNFPA organized games and competitions for young people promoting a spirit of peace, civic responsibility, and inter-community partnerships. UNFPA Country Representative, Mr. Pornchai Suchitta, handed out prizes to the winning teams of the competition. The hope for the Dili, ‘City of Peace’ Marathon is to inspire a new generation of young people to take part in sport by creating new, peace-time role models to enhance national stability and solidarity.

"There is no more significant event in Timor-Leste," says Manuel da Costa Lake, the Timor-Leste national running team's coach and mentor, "Everyone gets involved, through participating, cheering runners on, or coming out from the districts. It creates stability in our country and is a chance for people to have fun. It's hugely important to our national psyche."