Vladimir Kotov flies Century City flag in Belarus
Century City runner and three times Comrades winner Vladimir Kotov recently returned from his native Belarus where he participated in the Minsk Half Marathon at the invitation of the Belarus Minister of Sport, Mr A Shamko and president of the Belarus Athletic Federation Mr V Devyatovskij. Celebrated as a national hero and “the champion of Belarus,” Vladimir’s record time for a half marathon has not been broken in 31 years and his record for the full Marathon not for 35 years!
Vladimir, who runs for the Century City Athletic Club and who has a sports shoe shop in the Fives Futbal complex in Century City, has been invited back to Belarus again next year to not only participate in the Minsk Half Marathon in September but to precede this with a 1500km run around the country promoting running as a sport.
This he will be doing with fellow long distance runner, David Grier starting in the town of his birth, Vitsyebsk, and working anti-clockwise around the country through major towns such as Hrodna, Brest, Homyel, Mahilyow, Orsha, Barysaw, Zhodzina and finally Minsk in time for the Half Marathon.
“While cycling is a huge sport in Belarus, running is not nearly as popular so we will be running 50km to 60km a day for a month to promote running,” he says.
Vladimir said the Minsk Half Marathon this year had attracted 16 000 runners but this, he said, could easily grow to 25 000 to 30 000 in the next year.
Here follows a translation of an extract of an interview carried in the Belarus media.
Vladimir, where did your passion for running arise?
- At school I won a medal, and then I was invited to attend a sports school.
Are you still running races?
- I am still participating in races but on a smaller scale then previously However, I still run between 15 and 22 kilometres a day.
Your personal best time in the full marathon 2:10:58. But what is your record in the half marathon?
- My best result in the half marathon - 1:01:07 - a record which has stood for 31 years.
What kind of food do you prefer? Stick to any special diet before the start?
- During the Non-competitive period, I eat everything. Before the competition I have a strictly controlled diet and try to eat more protein, more meat. A week before the start I switch to carbohydrates eating mainly potatoes, bread and dessert.
On the day of the competition do you have breakfast?
- I drink black tea with brown bread. Sometimes I eat a piece of cheese. I do not advise anyone to drink coffee or to eat honey before a race. Some types of caffeine can assist you, others such as that in coffee are a killer.
How much water do you drink?
During the competition, I do not drink water. Sometimes, before a long-distance I drink jelly it’s made from potato powder. It is starch-based and can help the stomach. During the competition, I drink Coca-Cola, because it contains sugar and caffeine, but a better kind of caffeine to coffee.
I heard that many marathon runners consume energy gels. How do you feel about them?
Energy gels make good advertising but I think that they are poorly absorbed. Coca-Cola is absorbed much faster.
What do you usually think while running?
While running, you can not think about winning or prizes. I think about the tactics - how to start, how to behave at a distance. It is most important.
Vladimir, how developed is the marathon movement in South Africa?
Running in South Africa is one of the most popular sports. They run in everything, even barefoot. South Africa has a highly developed Marathon movement. In summer residents wake up at 4 am and run for their health, for themselves. The favourable weather conditions allow this. Every Saturday and Sunday in all areas of Africa there are a lot of races. There is a club system where people meet on a certain day of the week and run together. Clubs have from 500 to 3000 members. Each club has a small pub where the people come in the evening families, socialize, relax.
Do you help organise marathons in South Africa?
I have a lot of experience in running marathons so I'm now helping to organize marathons and other races in Cape Town. This is interesting work, but not easy.
South African athletes you train?
I have helped other runners on an ad hoc basis but I have not done intensive coaching. Now I have more time, so this might be a possibility going forward.
Who do you think is the strongest marathon country in the world today?
- It's hard to say, but the African continent is definitely the leader. There are many good runners in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia.