Beirut hosts half-marathon as Lebanon limps out of lockdown

Annual marathon used to attract nearly 50,000 entrants

The Beirut Marathon used to attract almost 40,000 runners annualy. Getty Images
The Beirut Marathon used to attract almost 40,000 runners annualy. Getty Images

More than 1,000 runners hit the streets of Beirut on Sunday morning for the city’s first major distance race since Covid-19 forced Lebanon into lockdown.

Organisers said the event message, “Raise The Bar", was a call to action for women to persevere as the country grapples with multiple crises.

One hundred per cent of the 40,000 Lebanese Lira ($4) entry fees were donated to StandforWomen, an NGO working to empower women in Lebanon.

With the country still suffering from the pandemic while grappling with a suffocating economic crisis, the race along Beirut's crumbling waterfront, damaged in the Beirut Port blast in August, provided a rare moment of hope.

Almost 700 competitors took part in a women’s only 10-kilometre race, while 337 entrants ran in the half marathon. Four-time Olympian Chirine Njeim dominated the 10k race, setting a new record, while the women’s half marathon was won by Kathia Rashed. Bilal Awada took first place in the men’s half marathon.

The races have attracted a host of Lebanon’s rich and famous, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri competed in 2016.

One of the most prestigious road races in the region, the annual marathon used to attract more than 47,000 participants. However, anti-government protests led to it being cancelled in 2019 and it too fell victim to the pandemic in 2020.

Updated: May 23, 2021 10:04 PM

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