Better in the long run: 2,600 join Saudi 10-day marathon

At least 40 nationalities were represented in all age groups

  
Athletes compete during the first Riyadh International Marathon, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 24, 2018.

Athletes compete during the first Riyadh International Marathon, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 24, 2018.

Reuters/Faisal al Nasser

JEDDAH: More than 2,600 people took part in a 10-day walking and running marathon in the Kingdom, reaching a combined distance of more than 448,000 km.

At least 40 nationalities were represented in all age groups.

The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) launched the “Step Together” initiative as part of a series of competitive walk-runs. The SFA event, the first since lockdown restrictions were eased, took place from July 17-26. About 30 para-athletes joined the competition, making it a hallmark achievement for SFA inclusivity.

Tahani Ibrahem, a 29-year-old Saudi participant, said her Eastern Flames football club training encouraged her to join the marathon.

“I joined one other marathon in 2019 and won fourth place. I’ve loved running since I was a teenager,” she told Arab News.

Ibrahem said that she was happy that para-athletes included in the marathon and praised the SFA for giving people and communities a chance to unite for one goal.

“They are just like us. Disability is something of the mind, not the body,” she said.

Ibrahem completed 42 km in the 10-day marathon, spending five hours a day walking and running.

“We were thrilled to see such high registration numbers for our first ‘Step Together’ event,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, the SFA president.

“The diversity of participants for the first in the walk-run series was important to us. We recruited all ages and abilities for this event and are delighted that they made it their own. It truly was ‘Sports for All’ as we had many children and seniors take part, and we were proud to have a number of disabled competitors,” he said.

Those who met the distance goals were awarded with medals and e-certificates of the achievement. In the 21.1 km event, the fastest time was recorded by Mohammed Ayyash (1hr 11min 5sec), followed by Waleed Homidan (1hr 11min 59sec) and in third place, Osama Ayyash (1hr 23min 5sec).

Ronel Wienand, competing with the Riyadh Road Runners, was the fastest woman, completed the half marathon in 1hr 58min 7sec.

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