Athletics: Marathon fear of `inferno road'

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The Independent Online
MARATHON RUNNERS competing in the World Championships men's race have expressed fears over the heat they will face this evening. Temperatures climbed to 40 degrees during the 20km walk last Saturday, which started more than an hour later, and there are predictions of similar conditions today.

On Wednesday the International Amateur Athletic Federation, decided to go ahead with the scheduled start time at 6.45pm locally (5.45 BST) despite protests from a number of national federations.

"Nobody seems to be thinking about our health," said Martin Fiz, the 1995 world champion. Abel Anton, who beat Fiz to the 1997 marathon gold medal, added: "The course is fine, very flat, but the heat will be a big problem."

Runners will do three laps of a course that, in parts, has very little shade. The Spanish federation doctor in Seville, Andreu Arquer, said: "The marathon runners will be dropping like flies. The medical services are very nervous."

The women, who race tomorrow morning, may be in even bigger trouble. They have been denied the cooler evening temperatures because a Japanese television company, TBS, a major rights holder, asked the IAAF to stage the event at prime viewing time in Japan, which has several medal contenders. The Spanish federation president, Jose Maria Odriozola, has fiercely, but unsuccessfully, fought the decision.