Runners told to observe social distancing in Moscow half-marathon
MOSCOW (Reuters) - More than 9,500 runners competing in Moscow's annual half-marathon on Sunday wore masks and gloves in the starting area, had their temperature checked and were told to observe social distancing rules because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 21.1-km race had been postponed from May, when the Russian capital was in lockdown because of the new coronavirus.
Participants in a separate 5-km (3.11 miles) run were also asked to follow social distancing rules, though this can be challenging when racing.
Russia reported 5,427 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours on Sunday, more than 660 of them in Moscow, bringing the nationwide tally to 850,870. The death toll in Russia rose to 14,128.
Despite the new cases, Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, who wore a medical mask and gloves when presenting awards, said the event was a celebration of Russia's success in combating the virus.
"We overcame the difficult period that was the pandemic and the fact that we are together today... is our common victory," Matytsin said.
He later told reporters: "We will show the whole world how to carry on with a normal life in these very difficult conditions while respecting all (safety) requirements."
The half-marathon provided a chance for some runners finally to compete again. Moscow, a city of nearly 13 million, lifted its more than two-month lockdown in June.
"I'm filled with happiness and emotion because there haven't been any competitions in almost a year," said Luiza Dmitrieva, who finished fourth among women and 33rd overall.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Alexander Reshetnikov; Additional reporting by Peter Scott; Editing by Timothy Heritage)
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