Marineris - Kumbha 1, 2077, m249
10 days racing across Valles Marineris came to an end yesterday as the final runners in the women's program comleted Stage 5 and crossed the threshold into Marineris colony.
In a very short period of competition, Pathfinder Marathon has become an interplanetary phenomenon, rivalling the popularity of the Martian Aero Football League among Earth fans. Virtual sim portals, such as SportzUmbark have lit up with dozens of game titles paying homage to the Martian survival marathon.
Even before the final runners crossed the finish line, signature sponsors Drinqium, Reprogus and AAA Capital Bank had already inked a new deal that would see the expansion of the sporting event. This led to yesterday's announcement of Pathfinder Sport Athletics Committee (PSAC). This newly formed group will not only be responsible for Pathfinder Marathon, but to expand the program. Aigar Masing, of MAFL fame, has joined the board of directors, adding the marathon to his Mars sport portfolio.
"Pathfinder is another example of how Mars is blossoming,", said Masing, "For decades, Mars has been perceived as a science experiment and strip mine for natural resources, so we are all proud to be evolving beyond those stereotypes; defining our own culture."
Indeed, the marathon has sparked tremendous pride across all the settlements. Combined with MAFL activities, Marineris was absolutely bursting with excitement and revelry. Pathfinder's Parade of Colonies marched through the colony bringing the festive affair to the thousands of local residents and visitors.
Later that evening, the winners were finally officially recognized, first with awards for individual stage victors.
This was followed by the prestigious Overall Titles. The overall winners are tabulated on a point system that weighs each stage by difficulty against each challenger's performance (time). A perfect score, winning all 5 stages would result in 10,000 points.
The overall title for women's went to Elaine Nguyen of KMH with a score of 7,032. Though Geneva Liu and Luisa Murilla took 2 stages each, both had poor results on other stages. Nguyen's win in Stage 1, the highest difficulty course (accounting for 3000 points), along with strong performances in the other 4, helped her capture the title. Liu and Murilla ranked 4th and 8th respectively in scoring.
An engineer for the KMH operation by day, Nguyen, downplayed her win, "I still can't believe it. It's just an honour to be among these brave men and women. Everyone who made the attempt is a hero in my eyes. Trust me, only 19 of us made it through the entire program."
The men's overall was awarded to Gunvir Pachehra with a total score of 6,343. A well deserved victory for the 40 year old from Europa who won two critical stages (Noctis Labyrinthus and Melas Chasma) and fought through multiple injuries to avoid disqualification.
"This has been one of the greatest experiences," said the father of two, "And tonight, I've been invited to meet with Europa United scouts!"
The momentum from this Pathfinder Marathon 2077 is sure to build as the mantle passes from Marineris. PSAC closed the ceremonies with an invitation for proposals as they seek the next hosting colony for the next games, to be held in the second half of m249. Though this may seem like a long time through the lens of a spectator, a half Martian year leaves little preparation time for the next round of hopeful runners.
According to PSAC, "Planning Pathfinder Marathon 2078 started last week."