Going the distance

Last modified: Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Couldn't get a ticket to the Olympics? Want to see locally-trained marathoner Guor Marial compete Sunday? Like getting up really early?

Red River Theatres on South Main Street announced yesterday it will host a free showing of the Olympic marathon, scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Marial, a Sudanese refugee turned Concord High graduate turned Olympic athlete, will be running as an Independent Olympic Athlete since his homeland of South Sudan has not had time to form a National Olympic Committee after winning its independence from Sudan last July.

Marial arrived in London on Friday, and "it's been absolutely crazy here" ever since, said his friend, Brad Poole.

Poole, an athlete manager and attorney, has been handling media requests for interviews with Marial and coordinated the international effort to secure the needed paperwork for his Olympic appearance.

"A great team of people came together to get Guor to London," Poole said. To get from Arizona, where he trains, to London, Marial needed a refugee travel document and U.K. visa, which were secured "in record time thanks to the help of Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Refugees International, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.K. border agency, the British embassy in New York, and one journalist in particular, Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune who wrote the first article," Poole said.

"Since then, it's been the entire worldwide media who really helped to raise awareness. . . Everyone wants to speak to Guor at the moment," he said. "I've been trying as much as possible to shelter him from all of that. We've had to say no to a hell of a lot of people since we've been here. But even in saying no to people, we appreciate the media's role in getting here so we want to be as respectful as possible. I try to answer some questions but it's been crazy."

In the dozens of photos posted to Marial's Facebook page over the weekend, he's standing with a broad smile and his arms around other Olympic runners and officials, often with the five-ringed Olympic logo behind them.

The theater where the race will be shown accommodates 109 people, and though there's no cost for a ticket, the theater is asking for people to register online to reserve a seat.

"We're expecting a good turnout. . . . We're hoping to reach the running community, the refugee community and really make this a community event where people can come together," said Angie Lane, the events and marketing manager for the theater.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SpalermoNews.)'