Cairo Runners – Where Passion Unites

It is a thin line that which separates a hobby from a passion. Once a pass-time becomes an obsession, and one continually strives to achieve greater success in its implementation, desiring to become better than themselves, that is when a passion is born.

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February 15th 2013  – twas a Friday like no other, for on this day I witnessed a passion transcend boundaries of geography, culture and age. It was my first run with a group known as the Cairo Runners.

Who are the Cairo Runners?

A group of running enthusiasts that one day decided to merge their enthusiasm for the sport with a message of health and wellness, by organising a weekly run for any and all to attend. Unlike similar events held in Kuwait, these runs were not sponsored by a plethora of companies. It was made solely by the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who take the time out of their weekend Friday’s to stand in the sun on an early morning pointing runners in the right direction.

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15 events in since inception, and scoring a record of 2,000 runners last Friday the 15th, serves a true testament that their message was received loud and clear: Cairo strives to be healthier, and this would be the first step in a series of steps that would prove such.

I heard of the Cairo Runners from my cousin upon arriving in Cairo last Friday, too late to attend their 14th event. I searched for them on Facebook and, lo and behold, they came up! (link)

I waited to hear of their next event, and when it turned out to be in my own back yard, I was quick to tell anyone and everyone I came across that I would be running the long distance run with these people and asking them to join in the fun.

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Given my previous running experience, I had thought I would be a cinch for first place as I was under the impression that, to be honest, Egyptians just didn’t enjoy running. Case in point, when I took part in the RAK 2012 Half Marathon, I was the first Egyptian to cross the finish line at 1hr52mins.

How wrong I was.

Being in Cairo for only 10 days, I had to join this run. I was extremely worried I would not find the meeting point in time. It was very simple, a mere matter of following the men and women dressed in running apparel. And there were plenty.

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Only one of my friends decided to join me and wake up early. The surprises came later when I bumped into a friend from highschool from a far away land whom I had not seen for almost 7 or so years, and another more coincidental, and extremely heart warming, chance meeting in the running sphere.

I am a striving runner in Kuwait, and at almost every event I attended (2 during the year) I ran (pun intended) across the same individual supporting Egypt by donning a t-shirt with a positive message for the Egyptian people. What were the odds that on this very day, 1,500KM away from where I last met him, and 4 months after our last encounter, that we would meet once again, at the starting line of a race?

Passion truly unites Egyptians, far and wide. The passion to be free, to run, to release the pent up energies stored over the course of a week in a constructive, positive way.

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The organisers, God bless them, took off on various modes of transportation, from bikes to vespas and cars, in order to pave the way for the runners to follow.

Unlike Kuwait, where running events are sponsored by the government and a lane is cordoned off by police vehicles to protect the runners, in Cairo, runners take their passion to the streets at their own risk and with the assistance of the volunteers who would signal incoming calls to slow down as runners crossed the streets. Passion prevails.

There were a few hiccups along the road, for example, this is what the run should have looked like:

How the run should have gone

How the run should have gone

However, this is how it actually turned out:

The first 6K separated the men from the boys in terms of the long distance runners. It was also after the 7K mark that things were touch and go, with volunteers scarce and runners confused as to which path to follow.

All in all, the run was truly enjoyable. It was a great feeling to behold the quizzical expressions on peoples faces early on Friday morning, wondering why on earth anyone would choose to run in the streets when they could be at home, sleeping comfortably in their warm, cozy beds. Soon they were even cheering and wondering whether or not you would catch up to the runner in front of you.

Passion prevails.

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The finish line was more of a finish area, with the total run distance measuring an astounding 12K. It is always better to run more rather than less, and it was a nice surprise to discover such.

The Cairo Runners are blazing a trail of healthy living in Cairo, and their message is received loud and clear with open arms as 2,000+ people embraced it on that very day. May they continue to inspire runners to find their passion and run faster and farther than ever before.

Passion prevails.

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August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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