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MADE IN MARSEILLE
There are few big cities in the world, even the third world, which don't
have their popular marathon nowadays. Which makes it all the more unusual
that France's second city, Marseille does not have one. There have been a
couple of false starts in the past, but the latest attempt has all the
hallmarks of third time lucky.
The inaugural Marseille Music Marathon is launched on Sunday, modelled on
the successful Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, California. The city
best known abroad for the Chateau d'If, which housed 'The Man in the Iron
Mask', and for its questionable reputation based on the 'French
Connection,' is in the process of reinventing itself.
The port, where Yves Montand once worked as a stevedore has been cleaned
up, and there are moves to tempt the successful Swiss America's Cup winning
team from its base in nearby Sète. National hero, Zinédine Zidane was born
here, and local soccer team, Olympique Marseille is once again vying for
top honours. And the marathon fits right into that new image that
Marseille's mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin is eagerly promoting.
Race organizer, José Goianni said today, "Marseille needed a marathon that
corresponded to its cosmopolitan and popular image, and the idea of a
musical group every two or three kilometres on the route will help build
its image with the local people.
Race favourite is Vincenzo Modica of Italy, world championships silver
medallist in 1999, Mayor Gaudin will fire the start gun, and special guests
will include 82 year old Alain Mimoun, France's Olympic marathon champion
from Melbourne 1956.
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