He may not be the fastest finisher in Košice October 3, but he should be able to avoid being disqualified from the race. That's how Prime Minister Mikuáš Dzurinda assessed his chances in the Košice Marathon, which he will run for the 12th time on Sunday.
"Any time over 4 hours," he said with a smile, "is not running - it's walking."
This year, 1,011 runners from 25 countries will compete in the marathon, which at 75 is the oldest marathon race in Europe. Since the first 42 kilometre run in 1924, over 22,000 men and 740 women from 59 different countries have participated - including one winner - Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia - who ran without shoes in the 1950's.
Dzurinda sat down with The Slovak Spectator in Bratislava on September 28 to describe his training routine for this year's marathon. The Prime Minister said he started training three months ago and expects to finish the marathon in around three hours and 45 minutes.
"In July, I ran 100 kilometres followed by 150 km in August and 200 in September," he said. "Since September has 30 days, that means I ran an average of 7 km per day this month."
Dzurinda says he mostly trains in Bratislava, running two out of every three days. Although he says he needs no security during his runs, a bodyguard usually accompanies him on a bike, he added.
A busy schedule has kept Dzurinda from training as hard as he would have liked this year. Frequent travels abroad have forced him to be flexible and creative in his routine, and have also attracted some media attention. On the way to the United States last month, for example, the Prime Minister squeezed in a 15 kilometre run in Iceland during a three-hour flight layover. He also took time out from UN meetings to run a 10-kilometre loop around Central Park in New York with a Slovenian diplomat.
"Central Park was very beautiful," said Dzurinda. He added that he had asked fellow runner President Bill Clinton to join him, but the US President's busy schedule had forced him to decline.
One of the favourites to win this year's Košice marathon is Slovak Róbert Štefko. Štefko solidified his status as a world-class long-distance runner in last year's New York City Marathon by completing the course in under 2 hours and ten minutes.
For his part, Dzurinda said his best time in a marathon was 2 hours and 54 minutes in the Trnava marathon, while in Košice his best time was 2 hours and 57 minutes. This year, however, his main objective is simply to finish under 4 hours, a time which he said is the cut-off for an official Košice marathon completion.