San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica Marathon takes off from La Sabana Park

More than 2,000 runners set off from the foot of the new National Stadium at western San José´s La Sabana Park for the 14th running of the Costa Rican Marathon.

The race passed along Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda three times, circling back in front of the Legislative Assembly, following the perimeter of Sabana Park and taking another loop west toward the United States Embassy.

Participants said the run was much better than in years past, when athletes battled buses and trucks for road space as they ran through less than desirable neighborhoods. Race routes were closed to traffic in downtown San José for four hours Sunday morning to allow the runners full reign of the road.

The weather also played in their favor. Though there were moments the sun glared down with force, these were balanced by spells of overcast skies and robust winds, making the pounding 42-kilometer distance somewhat bearable.

Several internationally recognized runners flew in for the race, including the first and second place finishers among women, Ecuadorian

Sandra Ruales Mosquera and Mexican Isabel Orellana. Mexico´s Gerardo Morales won the men´s race with a time of 2 hours and 32 seconds.

For those who preferred a shorter distance, there was a 21-km run (a half marathon), an eight-kilometer and a four-kilometer race that attracted several children. Costa Rican Roy Vargas won the half marathon with a time of 1 hour 8 minutes, followed by Tica Cristina Marín, the top finisher among women, who came in with a time of 1 hour 27 minutes.

At a press conference Wednesday, race directors said they made strides improving the professionalism of the 2009 race and expect 2010 to be even better.

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