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Pole running to Rome for Polish pope sainthood

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A Polish marathoner is running the whole 2,000 kilometres to Rome in time for next month's canonisation of his countryman Pope John Paul II.

On his way to celebrating the sainthood of the late Polish pontiff, Piotr Kurylo will also pray for world peace, notably in neighbouring Ukraine.

"Others will go to Rome by bus, train or plane. I'm a marathoner, so running is the only way for me," the 42-year-old told AFP during a break from pounding the pavement in the northern village of Borki.

Clad in a pope T-shirt, Kurylo set out on March 15 from the northern village of Studzieniczna, a lake-rich area where Karol Wojtyla spent holidays kayaking before he became pope in 1978.

"He was an outdoorsman too, he liked sports," Kurylo said of the pontiff who died in 2005.

The father-of-two hopes to average around 80 kilometres (50 miles) a day while passing through Slovakia, Hungary and Austria to reach Italy in time for the April 27 canonisation.

"Sometimes people join me on the road and we run together. The response has been really warm. They confide their prayers in me so I can carry them to Rome," Kurylo said, while pulling a wagon attached by a harness to his waist.

Polish marathon runner Piotr Kurylo takes a break on March 20  2014 in the village of Borki  days af...
Polish marathon runner Piotr Kurylo takes a break on March 20, 2014 in the village of Borki, days after beginning a trek to the Vatican
Janek Skarzynski, AFP/File

The wagon, which is decorated all over with pope photos, contains his food rations and other supplies and doubles as a snug tent at night.

Kurylo rises early and runs from daybreak until evening, taking walking breaks in between to eat and drink.

The journey took three months to prepare, during which he trained by running daily with different loads, be it a tyre or a wagon filled with wood.

"I'm also running to recharge my own batteries, to energise myself before the ultramarathons I'm doing this summer," Kurylo said.

After Rome he will take part in the UltraBalaton in Hungary, a 212-kilometre race around Central Europe's largest lake, before running the historic 246-kilometre Spartathlon race in Greece.

The construction entrepreneur got the marathon bug around a decade ago. He placed second in the 2007 Spartathlon and completed a run around the globe in 2010.

In 2012, he kayaked the length of Poland's Vistula river against the current to draw awareness to the barriers that disabled people face.

"Piotr is a true hero of faith," said Borki parish priest Father Marek Matusik.

"He's running to spread the word, to keep John Paul II's memory alive," he told AFP.

A Polish marathoner is running the whole 2,000 kilometres to Rome in time for next month’s canonisation of his countryman Pope John Paul II.

On his way to celebrating the sainthood of the late Polish pontiff, Piotr Kurylo will also pray for world peace, notably in neighbouring Ukraine.

“Others will go to Rome by bus, train or plane. I’m a marathoner, so running is the only way for me,” the 42-year-old told AFP during a break from pounding the pavement in the northern village of Borki.

Clad in a pope T-shirt, Kurylo set out on March 15 from the northern village of Studzieniczna, a lake-rich area where Karol Wojtyla spent holidays kayaking before he became pope in 1978.

“He was an outdoorsman too, he liked sports,” Kurylo said of the pontiff who died in 2005.

The father-of-two hopes to average around 80 kilometres (50 miles) a day while passing through Slovakia, Hungary and Austria to reach Italy in time for the April 27 canonisation.

“Sometimes people join me on the road and we run together. The response has been really warm. They confide their prayers in me so I can carry them to Rome,” Kurylo said, while pulling a wagon attached by a harness to his waist.

Polish marathon runner Piotr Kurylo takes a break on March 20  2014 in the village of Borki  days af...

Polish marathon runner Piotr Kurylo takes a break on March 20, 2014 in the village of Borki, days after beginning a trek to the Vatican
Janek Skarzynski, AFP/File

The wagon, which is decorated all over with pope photos, contains his food rations and other supplies and doubles as a snug tent at night.

Kurylo rises early and runs from daybreak until evening, taking walking breaks in between to eat and drink.

The journey took three months to prepare, during which he trained by running daily with different loads, be it a tyre or a wagon filled with wood.

“I’m also running to recharge my own batteries, to energise myself before the ultramarathons I’m doing this summer,” Kurylo said.

After Rome he will take part in the UltraBalaton in Hungary, a 212-kilometre race around Central Europe’s largest lake, before running the historic 246-kilometre Spartathlon race in Greece.

The construction entrepreneur got the marathon bug around a decade ago. He placed second in the 2007 Spartathlon and completed a run around the globe in 2010.

In 2012, he kayaked the length of Poland’s Vistula river against the current to draw awareness to the barriers that disabled people face.

“Piotr is a true hero of faith,” said Borki parish priest Father Marek Matusik.

“He’s running to spread the word, to keep John Paul II’s memory alive,” he told AFP.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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